Suppose that I’ve carefully read all of these questions and answers and I STILL can’t figure out what the heck is going on. How do I contact the race director?

Well, you can e-mail the race director, Don, at donkern1@gmail.com and ask your question. Keep in mind that there is such a thing as a stupid question (see below for some examples) but no one will hold that against you. However, if you ask him for a weather report or something that Google could have answered a lot faster than he can, that might end up low on his priority list of emails to answer. (Notice that Don is writing about himself in the third person here.)

Where are the closest hotels/hotels within walking distance?

Most frequent email I get is for hotel locations. Try this link to get the immediate vicinity around the race site. More info is available on our Travel & Hotels page.

What color are the shirts? **

2024 – We don’t know yet. Long Sleeve Men & Women cut. Run Thru the Rapids 5K & 10K are the same shirts this year.

Speaking of shirts, you got any left from last year?

YES! Go to our Shop page of the website and order some.  Please!

Is it OK to wear hydration vests? 


Is there a Virtual option for 2024 


Runner Tracking?

Yes! You have two options. Follow results on our registration site. There will be splits reported at 7 miles, Half Marathon, and 20 miles. The other option is, go to our registration site and scroll down on the first page. There’s info on the RaceJoy app. You can carry your smart phone and get tracked everywhere.

Can I use my iPod?

USATF has changed their rule to a suggestion, for the most part. Now, instead of telling you that you can’t use them, I can just recommend that you don’t use them. It’s really your call. Check the USATF web site for more info about all their rules.

I heard that your awesome Race Director, Don Kern, wrote a book. Where can I get a copy?

True! It’s called, and the adventure continues…. and it’s about his quest to set a world record by running marathons on all seven continents. It also has a lot of great history of the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon. It’s available right this second. CLICK HERE. For more info, go to www.cooladventures.net

Can someone else pick up my race packet?

Yes.  Bring a note or something. Or a beer.


Finisher medals for every one! (Marathon, Half Marathon, Relay)  Three deep overall and masters. Overall and masters awards are based on GUN TIME, so if you’re one of the fast peeps, move to the front. Three deep in age groups. Age group awards are based on CHIP TIME!!! Runners who take the early start are placed behind runners who take the regular start for purposes of awards. (This usually only pertains to the “more experienced” age groups.)

Why does the registration form ask for info about us and our running?

We like stories. So do our media partners! Wood TV 8 and our Cumulus Radio Station partners, all like to highlight the accomplishments of our runners in the time leading up to the race. This might be your chance to see yourself in print or be a part of our live race-day coverage. So, feel free to share your story.

Can I get a refund or sell my entry to someone else?

NO REFUNDS! Entry fees are non-refundable. That means that once we receive and accept your entry, you will not receive a refund if you cannot participate. Your registration may be deferred to the following year for a $25 administration fee UNTIL THE MONDAY BEFORE THE RACE. It may also be transferred to another runner UNTIL THE MONDAY BEFORE THE RACE for a $15 administration fee. You can do this on the online registration site. See the answer to the next question for details! (By the way–closer to race day you’ll click Participant Tracking rather than Find a Participant. And if the stuff keeps working beyond Monday–just roll with it.)

Can I Switch Races?

You mean like going from the full marathon to the half-marathon?!? Or vice versa? Oh. Sure. Look up your entry on RunSignUp and you can do it yourself.
If by switching races you’re talking about editing your DNA or something, we don’t have anyone on staff proficient in that area.

One of the things we like about RunSignUp it is that you can now manage your own registration. So, if you want to:

  • Transfer your registration to another runner 
  • Defer your registration to next year 
  • Switch from Half Marathon to Marathon or the other way around

You can do it yourself online without waiting for someone to manage the transactions. Just go to our registration site and Find a Participant. Find your record. Claim it if you haven’t already. Then to to MORE INFO on your record. In the menu, you can do the stuff in the list above. IF YOU CAN’T FIGURE IT OUT, HERE ARE SOME MORE EXPLICIT INSTRUCTIONS

Do you have an official training program?

YES! RunGR is our official training partner.

You also have a lot of other options locally with Creston Run Club, Lyon Street Run Club, Gazelle Run/Walk Community, etc.

There are TONS of great training programs online by great guys like Higdon, Bingham, Gallaway, Martens, etc. And keep an eye on my newsletter for lots of options!

Can I take a Baby Jogger on the course? How about having someone ride beside me on a bike?

No! You’ll be disqualified and taken off the course if that happens. There’s not enough room to safely have that happen. The only bikes on the course are the lead bikes. The only strollers/joggers on the course are with the My Team Triumph group which starts a half-hour early. DO NOT ASK FOR AN EXCEPTION TO THIS RULE. (Run Thru The Rapids 5K walk will allow strollers, however. Start time 8:30)

How about dogs?

(See the baby jogger discussion above. Then double it.) Service dogs are OK. Therapy chickens or giraffes are not.

Do you have TIME LIMITS? We’re avid walkers…..not runners.

We’re having a 7:00 start for walkers (and velocity-challenged runners:-)). No time limit on either race, HOWEVER, if you use that as an excuse to stop and have a picnic or go out to breakfast, or stop at the bar to catch the end of the Lions game, we will disqualify you. This is a race, after all. At least ACT like you’re in a hurry. After 2:00 (that’s 7 hours for the early starters) we’re going to be cleaning up, but we’ll keep the time clock running. Just don’t get mad at us. We’ll save you some food, and perhaps a beer.

Can I take the “Velocity Challenged” start if I need to get to church on time?

The “Velocity Challenged” start is for people who will be running at a pace of over 6 hours for the marathon (3 hours for the half marathon). Early course support, police support, aid stations aren’t ready for people running faster than that who start early. You run a really good risk of not having an official time if you choose to violate this. Also, DO NOT START EARLY IF THERE’S THE REMOTEST CHANCE YOU’LL FINISH AHEAD OF THE EVENT WINNERS!  NO ONE STARTING THE MARATHON EARLY WILL BE GIVEN A TIME OF LESS THAN 5:00:00 for the marathon or 2:30 for the half marathon.



What does Boston Qualifier mean?

It means the course is a certified distance as measured by USATF Standards.

Is this a certified course?


USATF Sanctioned?


My Garmin says the course is long.

Yeah. Consider this: The USATF certification means that the course isn’t short! First of all, there’s a “short course prevention factor” built in. So in reality EVERY certified marathon course is at least 26.245 miles long. (That’s a tenth of one percent extra). It works the same for every certified course you’ll ever be on. Next, the course is measured along TANGENTS. That means when we measure, it’s along the shortest distance that a runner can run and stay on the course. As a runner, that means if you run beside someone, or you’re not fully aware of where the next turn is at all times, YOU WILL RUN A LONGER COURSE. So, 26.39 or 26.41 or even a little longer on your GPS unit is actually about right. Oh, and did you ever run the same course twice with your GPS and get totally different numbers?  Me too. We don’t measure courses with a GPS. The whole USATF certification process is available on their website, if you’d like particulars. So don’t complain to the RD because the course is long. I already know that. And it’s not my fault. 🙂

Cutoff Times? Do you have cutoff times for either race?

YES! We’d really like it if you finish on some day ending in a “Y” Stay perpendicular and cross the FINISH LINE. We’ll save you a beer. HOWEVER—Treat this like a race, a personal challenge, or whatever, but don’t be stopping to have a picnic or at a bar to watch the Lions game. If you can’t stay moving pretty much continuously, please train some more and come back next year.

Is whining allowed on the course?

NO! You signed up for this on purpose. Deal with it. I don’t care what you were under the influence of when your friend talked you into it.

Finisher Medals, will there be any?

Yes, and they’re really cool too. Half marathon medals as well. Even medals for the relay teams.

What sport drink are you serving?

Gatorade. In a variety of flavors & colors to drink. Water, clear and colorless from Gordon Water Systems. Heinz Pickle Juice somewhere out on Indian Mounds Road.


This is a professional operation! Yes there are portajohns at every aid station. They are plastic and contain white toilet paper. There are lots of trees. They’re gray-brown and have leaves of various colors this time of year to use for toilet paper. Make sure you can identify poison ivy. This is very important.

What’s the course like?

It’s long. Officially 26.21875 miles. (See the GPS discussion above) Mostly flat. Actually, there are a few hills between 7 and 12 miles, but none of them are liable to kick your butt. Well, maybe the one in the middle of mile 12, but it gets over with pretty fast, and there’s a really pretty view at the top.

Chip timed?

It’s the 21st Century. Certified distance too so you can qualify for Boston. (Wait! This is the second time on this page you found out it was a Boston Qualifier.)

What is the distance from the downtown area, (read hotels) to the start/finish?

Hotels from 3 blocks to 10 miles. Check out our travel/hotel page for more info.

Why do you use a Canadian maple leaf in your logo?

Have you tried to import vegetation from another country lately. For crying out loud, border patrol people would be all over us. Please rest assured, it’s an AMERICAN maple leaf, inspired by the many thousands of maple trees we have RIGHT HERE IN MICHIGAN. According to Vic Foerster, renowned arborist and author, maple trees are one of the more prevalent trees here in Michigan. Also being a former hockey player, he will tell you that Canadian maple leaves have hockey players in the middle of them. Ours has a runner in it. We do love Canadians though, and even have their national anthem at the start of the race.

Oh–our logo was designed by Geoff Shirley, of the Highland Group. It’s titled “Victory in the Fall” and we’re pretty darn proud of it.

If a marathon runner falls in a forest and there’s no one around to hear it, will he or she make a sound?

I’m sure there would be a sound, but this is a family website, so I can’t put a real detailed description of it here. We have medical people on the course, so keep yelling for help and/or swearing, just in case. If a marathon runner falls in the river though, remember to swim upstream, because that will take you in the direction of the finish line. A few salmon may still be migrating at that time, so you’ll have some company.

How many marathon runners does it take to change a light bulb?

Marathon runners aren’t afraid of the dark.

I was wondering about aid stations (GU, water, sports drink) as well as first aid stations (that include Vaseline) in terms of their placement along the course. Thanks!

We’ll have aid stations about every 1.5 miles along the course. GU shots at two places on the Marathon course. And, of course, what kind of a marathon would it be without some petroleum jelly along the way? PORTAJOHNS at every aid station. We’ll make sure you’re well hydrated and well lubed! ALSO University of Michigan Health West has each aid station staffed with qualified medical personnel. You know, REAL DOCTORS AND NURSES.

You mean there really are stupid questions?

Yes. Does the water go all the way around that island? Why were so many Civil War battles fought in National Parks? What’s the difference between an orange? (One’s a fruit and the other’s a color.) Do these pants make my butt look fat? (Just pretend you didn’t hear and change the subject quickly.) When you walk down the street, do you sing “Do wa diddy diddy dum diddy do”? (This is pretty silly.) Hey Don, can I buy you a beer? (DUH!) Oh yeah–my friend and fellow race director Dave Craker contributed this one from one of his emails: “I just found out that the half-marathon is over 13 miles long. How long is the four-miler?”

Age Limits? I’m 15 and despite getting told it “wouldn’t be too smart,” I am determined to try to run a marathon this fall. The Grand Rapids Marathon is the only one I’ve found that’s not too far away from Detroit and is also after this fall’s cross country season. My mom insisted that I have to find out if there is an age limit in this marathon before she’ll let me sign up. I am going to prepare mileage-wise, and etc., so am I allowed to run in the Grand Rapids Marathon? Thanks.

“Being too smart” has never been part of the criteria to be a marathon runner. As long as your mom is cool with it, and you’re trained properly, I have no problem. Make sure you’re well prepared though–youth and enthusiasm are wonderful, but seek the counsel of more experienced runners and be smart about it. I look forward to seeing you in the fall. (Our youngest marathon finisher was 9.)

You guys sound really fun. Do you put on any other events?

As a matter of fact, YES, we ARE really fun. Most of us, anyway. And we do other events too. There’s the Groundhog Day Marathon, in the middle of freakin’ winter. Don’t do it if you don’t have a sense of humor. (But then you’ve gotten this far through the FAQ, now haven’t you?) Snowy, cold, but with the same kind of good beer you’ve come to expect.

Then there’s the Last Chance BQ.2 Marathon in September, targeting specifically those speedy guys and gals who are trying to get into Boston. Four and a half hour time limit on a time-trial type course. If you’re within a few minutes of qualifying, it’s the place to go!

And the end of August–the Millennium Meadows Marathon It’s the same course as the BQ.2, but we’ve added a half marathon and a 10K.