GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — One of this year’s River Bank Run Road Warriors has a long history with the race — but it’s her first time running.

Terri Larsen of Ada has been volunteering with the race since the early 90s. But Saturday will be her first time running.

“I just decided after years of shut-in with COVID, it was time,” said Larsen.

After decades volunteering behind the scenes, Larsen didn’t think she had what it takes to train for the River Bank Run.

“I remember thinking I could never do that,” said Larsen.

It was a friend, who’d been a Road Warrior in the past, who encouraged Larsen. As a career-long Human Resources professional, Larsen admits she prefers to take on challenges by herself. The Road Warriors has taught her how valuable working with a team can be.

“I came to a certain age where I thought, I need to start setting some goals and checking them off the list, let’s do this. Let’s do this Road Warrior thing,” she said.

Larsen found herself training with the Road Warriors but not the same way most of her teammates prefer to train.

“I love the treadmill and my Road Warriors make fun of me,” Larsen said. “They’re like, ‘she’s on the treadmill again?’ I’m like, ‘am I the only one who likes the treadmill?’ they’re like, ‘yes.'”

Transferring that treadmill work to the road, often during the cold and icy days of winter, was the hump Larsen needed to get over to prove to herself she could do it.

“The encouragement that the team provides on a regular basis is amazing and it just pushes you through it. It holds you accountable,” said Larsen.

The West Michigan spring has pushed those snowy training runs to only a memory.

From Old Kent River Bank Run volunteer to Amway River Bank Run 10K finisher, all that’s left ahead is adding a new chapter to her River Bank Run memories.

“It’s a legacy that I’ve been part of for decades and it just amazes me that I see people continue to crowd downtown — and downtown has changed so much since that very first race that I volunteered at — to see it get bigger and more and more people accomplish goals. It’s just been an amazing journey,” she said.

Larsen is running for the charity partner “I Understand.” She’s proud to be running for an organization centered on mental health because fitness helped her beat postpartum depression years ago.