Run, ride and rapport: Adventure groups and races to keep you busy this fall

Whether it's logging a few morning miles on the trail, trading injury stories with a fellow athlete or competitively pushing one another to do your best, adventure and athleticism often go hand in hand with camaraderie. There are a few local groups where you’ll find just that -- along with a number of events this fall to fuel both your friendship and fitness needs.

Exercise with a side of caffeine
Every Thursday for the last seven years, a group of dedicated early birds gets up to meet, regardless of the day’s weather conditions, to go for a morning run. The unofficial group was started by local fitness enthusiast Matt Smith and every week, the runners meet at 5:00 a.m. in the Starbucks parking lot on Eastman Road to run for approximately an hour. Don’t let the time or distance scare you off, Smith encourages the fact that the group is for all activity levels.

“We have various people and abilities that join in each week” says Smith. “Anywhere from 13:00 minute mile pace to some running 7:00 or below, it really just depends on you and we always welcome new people to join us.”

Matt Smith, local fitness enthusiast started the running group in 2011, which is still going strong.

Smith urges the 5:00 a.m. start time can be an adjustment at first, but the social aspect of the gathering eventually makes up for it. “It gets way easier to show up every week, or as often as your schedule allows, with the great group of people that come,” says Smith. “Everyone in the group is inspiring and supportive, as we are all trying to just bit a little bit better than we were the day before.”

Mid-Michigan Multisport Run Club
For a bit larger group of athletes and adventurers, look no further than Mid-Michigan Multisport Racing Club (M3RC). Avid runners, mountain bikers and newbies alike will surely find something of value with M3RC, the go to resource for everything on adventure activities and races in the region and beyond.

Started in 2003 by Craig and Sherry Elford, the mission of the Mid-Michigan Multisport Racing Club is to promote health and wellness in the Mid-Michigan region through physical activity and participation in multisport activities. With an eye for all activity levels, membership ranges from kids, to novices, to elite athletes competing in world-class events.

Whether you’re just starting out running, biking or training for your next big race, M3RC is the go-to resource for anything involving a triathlon, duathlon, mountain biking, road cycling, adventure racing, running, and swimming – as well as the community to support such efforts.

M3RC is a resources for athletes training in all types of activities.

Officially joining M3RC has its benefits, as the $25 annual membership fee goes toward member discounts at many local businesses, giveaway items at local races for members, training seminars for nutrition, equipment and performance and the group's annual banquet.


M3RC also adopts families over the holidays and provides gifts to those in our community who cannot afford to do so. Last year the club adopted two local families and filled their lists, plus some.


M3RC president Jerry Canze reinforces the community and friendship aspect of the club, “We have group workout sessions year around, whether it is swimming, biking or running, there is always a group with which you can share your love of exercise and wellness.”


“What really makes the M3RC club special is the people. We truly have a generous and giving group of folks who care,” says Canze. “They root you on when racing, support you if injured and are there for advice on everything from training plans to what is best to fuel your body before a race.”

Midland has plenty of bike lanes for getting miles in and training, which are designated on several roads by a bike symbol.

The group hosts a large community of paid members and a popular Facebook page, which you don’t have to be a member to join. The Facebook community provides a space for Midland locals and those interested in events to share tips, race information, gear, meet-ups and more. Often you’ll find an extra or shared entry to a race that is sold out.

Now in its sixth year, Mid-Michigan Multisport will be hosting the 5k beer run at the Midland Brewing Company on Saturday October 27 at 3:00 p.m. Come thirsty, as the race schedule has runners drink a beer, then run a 5k, followed by another beer.

Runners waiting for the start of a race in Midland.

Your fall race and event lineup

This fall, you’ll find many local runs, races and adventures to keep you busy. Here are a few of your local options for trying something new or testing your endurance – maybe even with a new friend.

September 15: Delta College Color Run
Benefitting the Delta College Physical Therapist Assistant Club, you can run, walk, or jog with in the second annual 5k Color Fun Run. You’ll find a course for all activity levels and washable powder at this event, with proceeds that help pay for the cost of state boards for the group.

If you feel like getting bright and a little messy, you can find more information here.

September 16: Bay City Driathlon
Hosted by the Bay City Morning Rotary, this race takes you throughout Bay City three different ways! New for this year is a kayaking option.Teams compete in a relay format canoeing or kayaking on the Saginaw River, biking on a closed course on Bay City streets, and finishing with a run on the scenic riverwalk.

More information for race participants and spectators can be found here.

September 20: Paddle & Pour at Larkin Beer Garden
Taking adventure to the water, this event is a casual way to enjoy the Chippewa River while kayaking with friends. While it's not a race, this is a dual event with Ike’s Mobile Kayaks and Larkin Beer Garden, with tickets given out for a beer with your reservation. After paddling through the tree-lined river, a cold one at Larkin Beer Garden is a fitting reward.

You can register for this event (which is the last for the season!) here.

September 23: Walk ‘n Roll for ALS
For a worthy cause, check out the 18th Annual Walk ‘n Roll for ALS, which features a fully paved and wheelchair-friendly three-mile walk that benefits ALS of Michigan. The organization is sponsoring several races throughout the state this September and the event in Midland will be held on Sunday, September 23, at 2:00 p.m. at Emerson Park.

You can sign up for races around the state this September, including Midland here.

The 39th annual Mud Creek Crawl is on September 29.

September 29: Mud Creek Crawl

The 39thth annual Mud Creek Crawl is a fall tradition that can get a little muddy given the name. Part of the Great Lakes Bay Region Be Greater Race Series, the event is hosted by Tri To Finish and has become a nationally-recognized event, featured in Runner’s World as one of the top out-of-the-way races.

Unique in its scoring, this race uses a handicap system for determining participants’ finish time adjusting for body type, age and gender that gives each runner an equal chance at winning their category.

Race director and Tri To Finish owner Andy Brady says this is by design and makes for a fun race experience.

Andy Brady of Tri To Finish at a local race.

“The handicap scoring method really makes it fun for all groups and activity levels with this fall trail run,” says Brady of Tri To Finish. “We get a great mix of all ages and participants and the unique timing factor is a great equalizer for athletes of all types.”

You can register for the Mud Creek Crawl here.

The Saginaw Valley Rail Trail in St. Charles.

September 30: St. Charles Run Michigan Cheap Half Marathon, 10k and 5k

Following the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail, this race is part of the Run Michigan Cheap series that puts on races all around the state for affordable and scenic activity.

You can find registration information here.

October 7: Clarabella Groad Gravel Bike Adventure
This bike adventure will take riders through northern Isabella County on two separate routes (50.7 and 28.5 mile courses) and touring through farmland and forest, rolling terrain, and sparkling lakes providing the backdrop for a true Michigan cycling experience -- no matter which route you choose.

Clarabella Groad takes place on October 7 in northern Isabella County.

With competitive and non-competitive categories, this race is for moderate to experienced riders looking for a scenic fall tour.

You can register for any of the four challenges for Clarabella Groad here.

October 13: Herrick Part Rail Trail Run
Set on the Pere Marquette Trail, this race is a very fast course with an out and back setup. The timing is just right for you to catch some wonderful fall colors along the trail in this race, which is also race 2 of 3 in the Michigan Half Marathon Rail Trail Series.

You can find registration information here.

October 27: Mid-Michigan Multisport 5k Beer Run
M3RC will be hosting this fun and casual run (with beer!) in late October with Midland Brewing Company. Sure to be a good time, cap off a 5k run around Midland with a refreshing post-race beer with friends at MBC.

You can find more information on this event here.

There are a number of races and fun events in and near Midland this fall.

October 28: Midland Halloween Run (Via Run Michigan Cheap)
Part of the Run Michigan Cheap Series, this is a fast course along the Pere Marquette Rail Trail featuring half marathon, 10k and 5k distances. Halloween costumes are welcome and encouraged, making this race extra festive and fun.

You can register for this event here.

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