GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As race day gets closer, organizers of the River Bank Run are encouraging runners to prepare for warmer than usual temperatures. 

This year will mark the 45th time runners have hit the streets of Grand Rapids for the River Bank Run. 

“People are very, very excited right now. I think that they can’t wait to get the race back in its normal time,” said River Bank Run CEO Russ Hines. 

Hines says while COVID-19 restrictions are not as big of a concern this year, the hot weather is. Storm Team 8 is predicting unseasonably warm air on Saturday with temperatures in the 60s during the morning and highs in the 80s in the afternoon. 

“It’s never been quite this warm,” said Hines. 

Hines said to prepare for the 80 plus degree day, they’ll have extra water, towels and medics on hand to treat runners in case they experience heat exhaustion or other emergencies during the race. Organizers are also moving finish fest, the celebration following the race, indoors where there will be air conditioning.

“We’ve been training since November, in very cold and cool temperatures this spring. So when your body is used to running when it’s 25, 30 degrees, 35 and now all of a sudden we’ve gone to this extreme where it’s 70 degrees and you’re not used to running five to ten miles and all of a sudden now you’re going to be doing that, so it is going to be a change,” said Hines. 

As a result, organizers are encouraging runners to get out to train this week so their bodies can begin getting acclimated to running in warmer temperatures. 

“There’s not a lot you can do about it over the course of the winter and building up to it. One of the things is we’re here today (doing is) getting used to that weather,” said Jay Oneal who has participated in every River Bank Run in the last 10 years. “Cold, you can bundle up for. You can layer up; You can put on clothes to deal with it. Heat, there’s only so much you can take off. You just got to run with it.”

While the heat will pose its own set of challenges, racers and organizers say they’re keeping their reason for running at the top of mind.

“The community part of the race is what I like the most. You see the signs go up downtown, you see the billboards and the excitement starts to build and the trails start to get full of runners and you know it’s coming and that excitement that you know you’re going to feel keeps pushing me to do that again,” said Tracy Hixson who is a Road Warrior Mentor for the River Bank Run.

River Bank Run organizers say they’re encouraging people to begin drinking more fluids now. They say do not wait until race day to up your water intake. They’re also telling runners to take breaks during the run if necessary.