GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two past Amway River Bank Run champions will return to Grand Rapids for this year’s race.
2019 men’s champion Parker Stinson has signed up to compete. The Boulder, Colorado, native set the American 25K record when he won three years ago. The second-place finisher in 2021, Futsum Zienasellassie, is also planning to return this year.
Three-time women’s champion Aliphine Tuliamuk is also set to return to Grand Rapids. She won the race in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Since last competing in Grand Rapids, she won the 2020 U.S. Olympic marathon trials. She then competed in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, just six months after having a baby girl.
New changes announced Tuesday included an indoor Finish Fest, a bell at the finish line for runners to ring for PR’s, and a new race course.
“All three events and their courses have new routes to take. We are all heading out of Ottawa Avenue northbound to Michigan,” Lauralee Mathieu, operations director for the Amway River Bank Run, said. “All three events will start on Ottawa (Avenue), all three events will end on Monroe (Avenue).”
Because of this, the terrain will look a bit different for certain races.
“The 25k is running backwards, which means the hills are going to be in the early parts of the race,” Mathieu said.
Elite athlete coordinator and seven-time River Bank Run champion Greg Meyer believes the course changes will create more drama.
“I think it’s going to be a faster course,” Meyer said.
He added that the long straightaway on Indian Mounds Drive and Market Avenue coming back into downtown will allow the elite men in the 25K race to get a glimpse of the elite women earlier than on the old course. The elite women get an 11-minute head start on the rest of the field. Whoever crosses the finish line first gets a $2,500 bonus.
JUNIOR RACE RETURNS
The Amway Junior will return for the first time since before the pandemic. Held on Wednesday, May 11, at Grandville Middle School, it is free for kids ages 5 to 11.
Kids can run in noncompetitive races that are either .5 miles or 1 mile long.
All participants receive a T-shirt, bib and finishing medal. Kids will also get to meet WOOD TV8’s Maranda and mascots from Craig’s Cruisers.
RACE BACK TO USUAL WEEKEND
The 45th annual race is scheduled for May 15.
“We’re back to normal. We’re back to the second Saturday in May after a couple of changes in the past couple of years,” race director David Madiol said at the WOOD TV8 Live Desk Monday morning.
Madiol said the race normally sees a great response from those looking to volunteer, but it still needs people looking to help fill multiple positions on race day, including people to help set up and run aid stations handing out water to runners.
“It’s not just sponsors and its not just all of us in this room, but its also the community. The community is a huge part of this race,” he said at the press conference Tuesday.
Madiol said organizers normally have a need for 1,000 to 1,500 volunteers to facilitate the race.
“I always tell folks this is a great way to get your family together, do it together. Family friends together. It’s also great for folks at work who want to do team building. Take a day, come down to help with this great event,” Madiol said.
Elite athlete coordinator Greg Meyer echoed Madiol’s call for volunteers.
“It not only happens because of our sponsors, but also our volunteers… You couldn’t do this without them,” Meyer said.
To volunteer, visit the Amway River Bank Run website.