GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It was the last sprint of Lauralee Mathieu’s marathon.
After Saturday’s race, the longtime Amway River Bank Run operations director is retiring.
“Lauralee Mathieu is really the unsung hero behind the River Bank Run,” Scott Stenstrom, the former race director, said. “This will be her 38th year and this race goes off without a hitch because of her.”
Mathieu is usually behind the scenes, working a job that’s not particularly glamorous. She’s an expert at putting out fires and takes calls all day. On the day before her last race, she stepped in to pick up a box of bananas and bring it to the elite runners suite because no one else was available.
“I just have a way of doing things,” Mathieu said, “and my dad probably looks down at me and laughs because it’s probably come from him.”
The other race organizers will have to find a different way of doing things next year. Mathieu is ready to step down.
“Thirty-seven years. And it’s time — my body’s telling me it’s time,” Mathieu said.
She has a long list of things she’d like to do, like visit Yellowstone National Park, and one person in particular she’d like to do them with.
“My husband’s 11 years older than me, so he’s turning 71,” she said. “I don’t have a lot of time to do things with him, so I got some pretty big thoughts going.”
She was running on adrenaline as she neared the finish line Friday. She said the last drive home after the race was when reality would sink in:
“That will be a tough one,” she said.