By Tom Graham*
HANCOCK -- Runners will crowd the starting line of the 35th annual Hancock Canal Run, in rain or sun, to compete in good sport with one another and glimpse pristine views of the Portage Waterway. The 2010 Canal Run will occur Saturday, July 17, with registration open now. Participants can choose to walk or run certified 5- or 10-mile events.
Spanning Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Canal Run offers more events this year than ever before. Organizers have dubbed the events Canal Weekend. Arnie Kinnunen, race committee member, believes the additional activities planned for the weekend may attract more community members as well as any visitors. Events include sports activities like volleyball, tennis, street hockey, ping pong, an obstacle course and soccer skills challenge, as well as entertainment in the form of live music, barbeque, and a sailboat regatta on the Portage Canal.
The weekend kicks off Friday with street hockey and a pasta dinner. The third annual pasta dinner, which includes entertainment and raffle prizes, takes place from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. at the Mannerheim Café on the Finlandia University campus. The dinner will allow fellow competitors to meet and greet the night before the run and to pick up pre-race packets.
"Early registration numbers for this year are looking better than last year’s at this time," Kinnunen said. "It looks like we will have over 500 runners and walkers participating in this year's Canal Run/Walk. With record numbers, please arrive early on race day. You can help reduce congestion on race day by picking up your bib on Friday evening at the Pasta Dinner."
Saturday marks the day of the run followed by the awards ceremony and numerous other activities. The ten-mile route will begin at McLain State Park off Highway M-203. The walk will begin at 7 a.m., followed with the run at 8 a.m. The five-mile course starts near High Point Rd. (also on M-203) with the walk getting underway at 8:15 a.m. and the run at 8:30 a.m. Both routes have aid stations along the way and will conclude at Citizens Bank in Hancock. A free shuttle service from Citizens Bank to both staging areas will be available the morning of the run. The first shuttle will leave at 6 a.m. with departure times scheduled every 20 minutes until 8 a.m.
For more information about registering for the run/walk or any of the events planned for Canal Weekend, head to the website at www.hancockcanalrun.com or check out a brochure, available at community businesses.
For photos of the 2009 Canal Run visit Brockit.com.
*Editor's Note: Guest reporter Tom Graham is a student in David Clanaugh's summer journalism class at Michigan Tech University.