River Bank Run hosting ‘exciting,’ ‘safe’ party for virtual runners

River Bank Run

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — One of West Michigan’s most anticipated annual events was postponed in the spring. Then, like so many other things this year, the Amway River Bank Run went virtual.

“It’s such a huge event. It’s the biggest sporting event in downtown Grand Rapids every year. We sure didn’t want to let it pass without doing something fun and exciting for our runners,” race director David Madiol said.

This is the 43rd year for the event that boasts the largest 25K road race in the country.

“We wanted to keep the tradition going, so we set up a really fun event this Saturday at Millennium Park for the folks who are registered and signed up for the virtual run,” Madiol said.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, those who signed up to run the River Bank Run virtually are encouraged to come to a drive-thru event at Millennium Park.

“It’s a safe event, but we’ve made it as fun as possible,” Madiol said.

The event will look similar to post-race celebrations of the past held at Calder Plaza, with a 25-foot video board showing photos of participants running. Meijer will provide post-race snacks and Amway will have XS Energy products.

There were more than 6,000 runners signed up to run, walk or wheel the 5K, 10K or 25K before the pandemic. After the outbreak started, participants were able to choose between the virtual option or deferring to next year. Almost half of the people signed up chose the virtual option.

“We learned to pivot,” Madiol said. “We learned to think fast and be agile and come up with new ideas on how to do things. I think that’s kind of the normal for all of us.”

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