The Mackinac Bridge Run: A Celebration of Fitness and Michigan

2012 Mackinac Bridge WalkI don’t remember the last time I visited Mackinac Island. Images of biking around the Island and watching the fudge shop workers create their sugary sweets for the visiting “fudgies” breeze through my mind.

When I found out I would be returning to Mackinac over Labor Day weekend to work the Bridge Run this summer I was ecstatic. I cannot wait to venture through the Island on my own and hear all the inspiring stories of the Fitness Ambassadors at the Run.

My mom worked at the Grand Hotel one summer when she was in college and said it was the best summer of her life. Growing up, she would occasionally reveal some of her stories from her nightly bonfire get-togethers on the beach that would pique my interest to experience a similar summer. While I will only be there for a weekend, I know I will get the best experience from being a part of the event and donning my tourist hat.

The Bridge Run and the Bridge Walk attract 500 and 50,000 participants, respectively each year. The Run allows visitors to participate in a 4.5 non-competitive race across the Mighty Mac. Runners and their families also have time to enjoy the beach, bike around the island, eat fudge, hike, golf, jet ski and participate in many more Mackinac activities. What makes the Run even more unique is that participants are drawn from a lottery at random each year and in order to enter the lottery they must have participated in a Governor’s Council Endorsed Event.

Both events are also at the apex of what the Pure Michigan campaign represents. Diverse landscapes, waters and bodies of people flourish throughout Michigan. The campaign strives to attract people from all over to show the world that Michigan has always been beautiful, and still is. It encourages locals and visitors alike to exercise, play outside and buy foods from local farmers.

One of my friends just moved to San Francisco from Michigan, and he made a Facebook status saying that he saw an ad for Pure Michigan all the way out there. This made me smile. After seeing pictures of the sunrise during the Bridge Run and all of my memories slowly starting to swirl around in my head more clearly, I cannot wait for the chance to be at the heart of a truly “Pure Michigan” event. Waking up at the break of dawn to watch runners scream and cheer each other on amidst the fresh lake’s breeze and the golden sunrise is an experience I can’t wait to absorb.

Working at the Michigan Fitness Foundation has made me much more proud to live in Michigan. I have heard inspiring stories of individuals dedicated to their personal health at the Governor’s Fitness Awards and spoken with Michigan legislators personally who are genuinely invested in improving the health of our state. When Labor Day rolls around, I envision seeing athletes of all abilities uniting through the pure joy of running along the Mighty Mac. If that experience doesn’t encompass Pure Michigan and a raw passion for improving our state’s health, I don’t know what does.

Tom Sleva is a marketing and events intern for the Michigan Fitness Foundation.

Photo credit: Michigan Fitness Foundation

 

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