GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For many casual runners, training for the 25K distance of the River Bank Run is a big deal. For Erika Kuhnle, it’s a drop in the bucket.
She once ran a 200K race and described it as “so much fun.”
Kuhnle will join seven other people in tackling all three distances at the Amway River Bank Run this year.
“We used to run a marathon the night before the River Bank Run… So this is just another way to get the 100-mile training in,” Kuhnle said of her plan to run the 5K, followed by the 10K, followed by the 25K on Saturday.
She added that she won’t be running at night before the event this year. Kuhnle started running 20 years ago, progressing slowly from a 5K to a marathon and eventually ultramarathons, which are 100 miles or more.
Another competitor attempting to join that 40K club Saturday is Robert Woldhuis. He made headlines in 2021 when he got married at the 10K finish line. He’s well-known in the racing community as “tutu man” because of the tutus he always wears while training and racing.
“I have not done the 40K before. And this year is 2022 and I’m tutu man. So it’s kind of the year of the two-two,” he said.
For both Kuhle and Woldhuis, the most challenging part of attempting all three distances will be the turnaround time from the 10K to the 25K. They’ll have 50 minutes to finish the 10K, get the new bib on for the 25K and make it to the starting line.
“I’m actually going to have a couple of tutus that already have the bib on them, so all I have to do is get out of one, and get into the other,” Woldhuis said.
Kuhnle has a similar plan using a bib holder instead of a tutu.
Woldhuis started running about eight years ago, when he weighed 260 pounds and wanted to lose weight. He has also struggled with addiction and relies on running as an outlet. He doesn’t expect the 5K or 10K to give him any trouble and will have extra motivation to keep going during the longer 25K distance because he plans to run with a friend who recently lost his father.
“I may come in last, which is completely fine,” he said. “To me, this is all just about the experience this year, and supporting him and other people.”
Kuhnle also finds comfort in the companionship of training, or racing, with a partner.
“It’s such a great feeling of accomplishment and it’s the time with friends when we’re out training together, that’s just so wonderful and rewarding,” she said.
Both have extensive experience running in hot weather, and advised anyone who plans to race in the Riverbank Run to hydrate days before the event and to not be afraid to take breaks or stop at aid stations.
“I’ve done a lot of miles in the heat and a lot of miles in the cold. Start getting water in you. It’s very important,” Woldhuis said. “I see the most activity with people dropping out of races when it’s hot and they just haven’t hydrated well.”