Race director Kyle Brownley, who in his day job is director of marketing at Chateau Chantal, and his helpful group of volunteers, welcomed over 350 Supermen, Batmen, Wonder Women, dinosaurs and regular runners to the third annual Big Little Hero Race, 1-mile fun run, 5K and 10K, Saturday, April 15, 2017, at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City. Race results are available online.

See more of Mickey Fivenson’s running race blog posts.

Sponsored by Pickle Print & Marketing, DTE Energy, NMC, Stromberg, Chemical Bank, Events North, Comfort Keepers, Crystal Mt, GT Construction, 4 Front Credit Union, D&W Mechanical, Elmer’s, Hogarth’s Pest Control, Kuhn & Rogers, KSP, USC Supply, Great Lakes Stainless, Priority Health, Safety Net, Marathon Auto, Leelanau Physical Therapy, Wolverine Power, Northwestern Michigan Fair, Bliss Systems, Hagerty Insurance, Gingrass Electric, Fyzical Therapy, and TC State Bank, proceeds from the race benefited the Big Brothers, Big Sisters local chapter. The race was held in memory of NMC instructor, Sonia Olshove, whose family joined the racers.

Gary Swaney, program director of BBBS for 20 years, explained his function. The local chapter covers eight counties with seven staff. Gary’s role is to support case managers who recruit, screen and train the mentors and enroll the children. BBBS has a school-based program in 12 schools and a community based program for example, in NMC.

The race had an international flavor. Desmond Gore is a student volunteer from Zimbabwe studying robotics engineering. One of our winners was not the fastest runner, but demonstrated an important reason to run for many readers of this column. It wasn’t enough that Stephen McDonald, 45, and his daughter Sophia, age 9, ran and walked together, as a father-daughter family, while mom helped organize the race. Just as important, Stephen has Type 1 Diabetes and carries an insulin pump. Looking at Stephen, a fit-looking second-grade teacher, you would never suspect him to be a Type 1 Diabetes victim. Stephen, you are a lesson on overcoming life’s challenges. Well done!

Irma Brownley is another winner. Irma is race director Kyle Brownley’s mother. Irma began our interview by telling me how much running helped her biking skills by improving her cardio fitness. As we talked further, Irma told me that she has overcome breast cancer twice. After the last surgery, in June 2016, running aided her recovery. Irma is one brave lady. Joining Irma was her friend Linda Muller, 57, of Kewadin, and Linda’s daughter, Danielle, 26, of Traverse City.

I met a queen! Pure International Pageant’s Michigan Queen Angela Ingold, 30, from TC, ran the 5K. In June, Angela will attend the national pageant in Orlando. Good luck to Queen Angela. Angela’s friends, Michelle and Keith Revolt, joined Angela in the 5K. Keith finished way ahead of me. One of my old acquaintances, Jeremy Hogue, 42, ran the 5K. I officiated Jeremy in wrestling when he was in junior high. Jeremy later played football in high school and college. After football, Jeremy’s weight rose to over 290 pounds. Today, with the help of running, he weighs a slim 190 pounds. His cholesterol and other vital signs have dropped into the normal range. Tyke Novak, 18, gave us more international flavor. He’s a local high school student from the Czech Republic. Greg Matya, U.S. Coast Guard Traverse City Base Commander, is a board member of BBBS as well as Big Brother to an 8-year-old boy. Greg says, “If you are thinking about mentoring, and don’t think you have the time, there is always enough time. Often, the commitment is as little as once or twice a month for a few hours.” Commander Matya couldn’t run because he was in uniform for this event, though he shared that his own running provides stress release for what can be a highly stressful position.

I also met another queen! Jessica Mason Froehlich, Mrs. Traverse City, brought her group of young dancers who performed for everyone’s pleasure. She will soon compete for Mrs. Michigan. Good luck to Jessica. Michael Schultz, 64, from Saginaw, has run wearing five-finger shoes for over six years. The unique shoe has less support than a regular running shoe with separate extension space for each toe. The shoes helped Michael resolve serious hip and knee pain allowing him to continue to train.

Lindsey Wiley, 34, from TC is a winner. Lindsey, a Big Sister was in the 5K along with her Little Sister, Emma Franke, age 6. Lindsey said, “Being a Big Sister helps me give something back to the community. We get together two times each month for a few hours. I’m trying to be a positive role model for a young female.” Lindsey’s friend, Sally McKinnon, 62, a Big Sister, was joined by Avery Frankey, 15, her Little Sister. Sally says she is a Big Sister “because she is doing her part to make the world a better place.”

Race director Kyle Brownley, hopes you will join him for next year’s Big Little Hero Race. Come as your favorite Super Hero or come as your favorite runner, but come and feel better for the effort. Remember to ask your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Mickey Fivenson, 75, of TC, is a stroke survivor. Mickey’s doctor gives credit to running for his survival. He is the former director of the National Cherry Festival Races. Mickey founded the Cherry Festival Golden Mile and Wheelchair Races. He completed over 60 marathons and holds a marathon record with sons, Zack and Adam. He has trained 150,000+ miles in 48 years of running. He took third place in his age group. If you’d like tips on running, on marathons, if you have a story to share how running has impacted your life, or if you would like coverage of your race, contact Mickey through the editor.

Photo(s) by Mickey Fivenson