GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After 41 years in Grand Rapids, the Fifth Third River Bank Run is changing its name.
Next year, Amway will take over as title sponsor of America’s largest 25K road race, which will be called the Amway River Bank Run.
Race leaders and sponsors announced the new name during a Wednesday morning news conference at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, not far from where the race traditionally starts and finishes.
Fifth Third Bank will continue to support the race as a corporate sponsor. Spectrum Health will remain the official health care partner.
Amway Community Relations Manager David Madiol will take over as race director. He said he plans to maintain everything the race is known for, including many event staff members. Russ Hines will continue to oversee the race and seven-time River Bank Run champion Greg Meyer will recruit elite athletes and oversee their training. Operations director Lauralee Mathiew and events director Sarah Laurent will also retain their roles.
But Madiol said Amway will also look for ways to “enhance” the race.
“(Fifth Third’s) goal with the race was all about economic impact … to bring more people downtown to create economic impact. They’ve done a fantastic job with that,” Madiol said.
Amway’s focus, he said, will be community health.
“That’s the biggest reason why Amway is getting involved, because we’re a health and wellness company and it’s an opportunity for us to create a healthier community,” he said. “So we want we challenge everyone in Grand Rapids to come on down. … Register today and get down and make yourself a healthier person.”
The Amway River Bank Run will take place Saturday, May 11 and include its typical events: the 5K run and walk, 10K and 25K runs, and 25K handcycling and wheelchair racing. The Amway Junior River Bank Run will take place May 8; the Sports & Fitness Expo is slated for May 10 at DeVos Place.
Amway’s Chief Administrative Officer Michael Nelson said the race represents Amway’s largest local engagement.
The 2019 Amway River Bank Run’s charity partners include Kids Food Basket, Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan, The Conductive Learning Center, the Jason Kinzler Family First Foundation and I Understand.