Race Committee

Ethan Ray

I’m a casual runner and occasional triathlete.  I’ve done a number of 5k and 10k runs.  The Spear-It 5k at the National Asparagus Festival in Hart is the bomb!  (Don’t get me started talking about asparagus.)  Also the Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K and the full Bayshore Marathon, along with the Millennium, Reeds Lake and Grand Rapids triathlons.  Started getting into those sports in the last five years so my knees are still good.
Happy to be on staff and coordinating the volunteers, which can be stressful but fun.  I’m always worried that someone won’t come through for me – but they always do.  Thanks to all the volunteers.  Without you and your support there is no way we could get such a great event done.
I am also the volunteer coordinator for the Groundhog Marathon and serve as a board member of the Grand Rapids YMCA Service Club.  At least once a month you’ll find me volunteering at Feeding America West Michigan.

Erika Chapman

I started helping the marathon staff in 2008 with various odd jobs the day before and on race day.  In 2011, I officially joined the staff to help out with post-race food.  After all, having a nice treat after a long workout is one of the main reasons I run!

If you would have asked me more than a few years ago to run any distance, I would probably have made a bad face.  It wasn’t until about six years ago that a cute boy convinced me to run and I actually started to enjoy it!  Since then I have completed dozens of half marathons, numerous 25Ks, a hand full of triathlons, and a sprinkle of full marathons.

Aside from being a staff member of the GRM, I also volunteer throughout Michigan with National Ski Patrol, and I am happily employed at Mary Free Bed as an Occupational Therapist.  I’ll be hanging around before and after the race, celebrating everyone’s victory as they cross the finish line.  If you see me come say hi, tell me how you like the food, and make requests if you would like!  Just look for a girl with curly dark brown hair in a staff jacket!

Mark Sisson

Together with George Ranville, I help organize the start/finish area and have been on staff since 2011. Working the marathon is great fun and as George says, “Our goal is to be standing around calmly, well before the singing of the national anthem.” A laudable goal but unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen when trying to herd 5,000 runners into one place at one time.

I am a long time runner (20 years or so). Two years ago, I completed my first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. I followed that with the 2012 Bayshore Marathon. I see running as a great way to keep me fit enough to do all of the other things that I enjoy. That includes all things outdoors, from cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, Jeeping, mountain biking, and camping, to just sipping wine on my mobile raft at the cottage. If it is outdoors and can be turned it into fun or adventure I’ll do it. My wife, Lisa, and I both love to travel and neither of us plan to settle into a sedentary lifestyle any time soon.

I am also the owner and primary practitioner at LandMark Strategies, a community planning and zoning consulting firm. As a certified community planner, I assist a number of West Michigan townships, cities and villages with the creation development plans and policies and with making zoning decisions.

We are always looking at ways to improve the start/ finish area, so if you have any good ideas about the flow of runners leading up to the start and after the finish, or the locations of tents, porta-johns and spectator areas, George and I would love to hear from you.

Ryan Lake

I have been volunteering for the Grand Rapids Marathon since 2012. I also help with the Groundhog Marathon. Each year, when the GR Marathon staff does the Staff Marathon (held before the main race), I run the full 26.2 miles with my dog, Cricket. I am an avid runner, triathlete, martial artist and adventure racer. My job is to promote the Marathon through press, TV and radio. If you have an interesting story involving the Marathon, I want to know about it.

TJ Suchocki

TJ has been on staff since the very first Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon.  He runs everything you hear at the start/finish area on race day. He also helps with every Kids Marathon event and our New Holland Beer Runs. He has supporting roles helping with marketing, food and sponsor relations.

He is new to actually being a runner, at the influence of his smoking hot girlfriend that he does not deserve.  He thoroughly enjoys the planning process, as well as race day events.

Terence Reuben

Terence Reuben graduated as a Physical Therapist in South Africa in 1992, and joined the Metro Health Sports Medicine team in 1997. Working closely with this team, he uses his specialty training in Orthopedics, Manual Therapy, Sports Medicine and Personal Training to manage athletes and their injuries in the Grand Rapids area. He also performs Biomechanical Evaluations, helping fit patients with custom orthotics.

In addition to his role as Physical Therapist, Terence serves as the Director of Metro Health Sports Medicine, playing a role to help manage contracts with the various pro teams & community events in Grand Rapids on behalf of Metro Health Sports Medicine. He serves as Medical Coordinator for several local races including the Fifth Third River Bank Run, Huntington & Fox Motors Grand Rapids Triathlon, Kreis Enderle Michigan Titanium and the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon.

In 2008, Terence helped co-found myTEAM TRIUMPH, Inc. which started off as a local Grand Rapids non-profit organization which promotes racing with individuals with disabilities. They use teams of Angels (able-bodied athletes) to help Captains (individuals with disabilities) compete in and complete local road races and triathlons. He currently serves as the President and Executive Director of the West Michigan Chapter. He is also the Founder & CEO of PTSportsPRO, Inc., a one-on-one personal training service.

 Terence is an avid triathlete (Sprint Triathlons to Ironman distances events) and runner (completed 20 marathons since 2005, including the Comrades 56-mile Ultra-Marathon in 2010). He brings his passion and experience in these sports to his patients and to myTEAM TRIUMPH. He is supported by his wife, Tina, and kids, Tristan and Nicolas, who can often be seen at the start and finish of his races!

Gail Ranville

So a long time ago, when I was young and had a bucket list before bucket lists were invented, in 1994, I decided to run a marathon. I phoned Greg Meyer (I did not know he was famous) and his number was in the phone book. Yes it was a long time ago. He advised I run three 20-mile long runs on top of the other little runs I had been doing. I went out trained alone and did it. It was hard. I woke up the next morning and said, “I’ll never do that again…”  Well, then I met Don Kern …

As a Registered Dietitian, I joined his marathon staff and, along with Erika and Matt Chapman, we order and organize all of the food for the course, the post-race party and the Kids Marathon. The entire Grand Rapids Marathon Staff are Marathon Animal. They practically run marathons before breakfast/. So with encouragement from my husband ,George, we started running along with them and found ourselves running marathons. I now have run 18 marathons, including Boston, and most recently a marathon at the end of an iron distance triathlon. Be careful who you hang out with!

Heather Ernsberger

I’m joining the team this year, partnering with Denise at the Information Booth. We’re here to help answer your questions and guide your way around Grand Rapids. We strive to make your Marathon experience the best it can be.

I’ve been a consistent runner since college. I have run several 5Ks and 10Ks, but prefer to run for fun and stress relief. Training for the Grand Rapids Half Marathon in 2010 was my introduction to long-distance running. Since then, I’ve run the Grand Rapids 10-Mile Bridge Run, the Hot Chocolate 15K in Chicago, and this year added the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon and the Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K to my repertoire. I’ve been a member of Mars Hill Running Group since 2010 and helped support the marathon as an aid station captain for the last two years. Although I’ve never competed in a triathlon, I enjoy multi-sport training and am a die-hard yogi. Summer is my favorite season, especially when I can run along a beach. I’m a pie-maker, I love dark chocolate and good coffee, and in the winter, you’re likely to find me knitting, especially near a cozy fireplace.
Here’s a link to my friend’s blog, where you can read a little more of my story.

Kathy Haase

Packet Pickup

I work with Bernie Zost as co-chair of Packet Pick-Up for the Grand Rapids Marathon . I have worked packet pickup since the first year and enjoy meeting and talking to all the runners. I have been running for over 30 years now, starting off with 5K and 10K races. When I moved to Grand Rapids, I watched the Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K and decided I wanted to be able to run it too the next year. Since then I have completed over 38 marathons and ultras in 24 states. I finally got a chance to run the Grand Rapids Marathon in 2011. I am a long-time member of the Grand Rapids Running Club. In addition to running club races, I am race director for the Johnson Park Cross Country run. Look me up when you pick up your packet. I look forward to seeing you all in October.

Patrick Carey

I began as a runner when I was in high school, 15 years old, trying to keep my weight down for school sports (or maybe cooking class).  By the time I was 16 years old, I signed up for my first Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K (or at that time Old Kent River Bank Run).  Way back then, my parents refused to sign the form as the parental permission because they thought I would get hurt, and it was a waste of money because I would never win the race.  I forged my dad’s name so I could run the race.  I am now 47 years old and I never told him or my mother I did that.  Well, I never got hurt and I never won the race.  Thereafter, I took a break from River Bank Runs until I was 22 or 23 years old, and this year (2013) was my 24th year in a row for running the River Bank Run 25K, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 
In 1995 I ran my first marathon, The Columbus Marathon, and I swore I would never run another marathon as long as I lived.  I trained like most first time marathoners, but did not know what to expect.  I dressed improperly thinking that cotton was a friend of runners, absolutely not.  On that Sunday morning it rained/snowed (ice crystals) blowing sideways  I was soaked, cold, sore, and frozen.  I finished in 4:45 minutes.  Six months later I signed up for my second race.  Fifteen years later I have 40 marathons under my belt, and had the fun of traveling to different cities around the country.  Today, I tend to enjoy half marathons and have many of these fine races under my belt.  One of my top 10 (half-full) marathons is the Grand Rapids Marathon simply because of the personal touches, and is not in-personal like some of the other races I have run.  Great Job, Marathon committee!

Syd Baxter

Door & door knob salesman for large commercial construction projects (think JW Marriott, Van Andel Institute, Spectrum medical Mile), I am in charge of the buses for the marathon relay and everything related to getting the runners to their exchange zones.

Runner-long time, long distance biker-short time, skier, sailor, kayaker, grandfather to three future Olympians. I have run three marathons, with a best of 2:59:52.

I also am the co-Race Director of the “Run Thru the Rapids” 10K and 5K.

If its outside, its cool, and I’m all in. Good luck to all participants.

Matt Chapman

I joined the marathon staff in 2005 and served as the Charity Coordinator through 2011. Now I’m helping to coordinate the post-race food area where our goal is to make sure that no runner goes home hungry after the race.

Since joining the committee I have completed two marathons, four half marathons, two 25k’s, and one triathlon. I was never a runner before joining this group but can honestly say being part of the Grand Rapids Marathon staff has changed my life. After being one of the only people on staff that had NOT done a marathon, I decided that needed to change. Around 2009 or 2010 I told Don I would run a marathon once I lost some weight. I started eating right and training more and lost nearly 50 pounds. On April 23, 2011 I married my wife Erika, also on staff, and a month later we both completed our first marathon and vowed to never do it again. We completed our second marathon exactly one year later!

Along with working for the marathon I am a member of the National Ski Patrol and enjoy any activity or hobby that keeps me active and outside. I’m proud to say I am a small part of one of the best marathons around I have have enjoyed watching this event grow and change over the years.

Dr. Rick Ganzi

Dr. Rick ran his first marathon in 1994 and made many of the normal rookie mistakes. He went out too fast, didn’t eat or drink enough, and struggled his way through the final eight miles. He has now run 108 marathons – including the last 14 Boston Marathons! Over the years he has figured out that with proper training, pacing, and smart race day decisions, Mile 26 can actually be a very pleasant experience.

Dr. Rick has had a lot of fun over the years encouraging family and friends to attempt a marathon, and then running it with them. He is a running chameleon of sorts, because he is happy running at almost any pace. He has successfully led the 3:10 pace team at Rock & Roll Arizona, and he ran with his niece on her 5:11 marathon debut in New York City. He says both were incredible experiences. He has paced lots of runners over the years at a wide range of different paces, and he loves doing it.

So when we started the Grand Rapids Marathon in 2004, he immediately volunteered to be the pace team director, and he’s been organizing our pace teams ever since. He came up with the idea of using celebrity finish times for the pace team target times. He says, “People would always ask if they beat Oprah, so we decided to just make that the pace. I think we are the only marathon in the world with celebrity pace teams!” In addition to directing the pace teams at Grand Rapids, Dr. Rick is responsible for the pickle juice you will find along the marathon course. He began drinking the salty brine many years ago to ward off muscle cramps, and he arranged for Heinz to become our official pickle juice provider. Grand Rapids is the only marathon we’re aware of serving pickle juice to its runners – another first!

Dr. Rick graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School and completed a four year residency in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He is currently President of Macatawa Anesthesia in Holland, Michigan. His marathon PR is 2:50:44, and he has broken three hours in the marathon nine times, most recently with a 2:57:11 at the 2015 Bayshore Marathon! He was the master’s winner at the 2006 Bayshore Marathon and the 2008 Fallsburg Marathon, and he was the first American finisher at the 56-mile 2009 Comrades Marathon in South Africa and the second American finisher (out of 216 Americans!) at the 2013 Comrades.


Kathy Haase

I work with Bernie and Tammy Zost as co-chair of Packet Pick-Up for the Grand Rapids Marathon. I have worked packet pickup since the first year and enjoy meeting and talking to all the runners. I have been running for 30 years now. I started off running 5K and 10K races. But, I moved on to the longer distance races when I moved to Grand Rapids and decided to run the River Bank Run 25K. Since then I have completed over 38 marathons and ultras in 24 states. I finally got a chance to run the Grand Rapids Marathon in 2011. This year I hope to at least run the Half Marathon and check out the new course. I am a member of the Grand Rapids Running Club. In addition to running club races, I am race director for the Johnson Park Cross Country run. Look me up when you pick up your packet. I look forward to seeing you all in October.

Don Kern

Don is a runner and adventure junkie. Check out his website for the full story, if there is one.

Dr. Ed Kornoelje

Dr Kornoelje has always had a passion for sports. Throughout his school career, he was involved in several sports including track & soccer, both as player & coach. As such, he has been exposed to both the participant mentality as well as the injury side of Sports Medicine. This passion for sport inspired him to enter the medical profession. He graduated from Calvin College & earned his medical degree from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. As a family practice physician, he then completed his Sports Medicine Fellowship at Metro Health Hospital. Dr. Kornoelje currently serves as the Medical Director for Metro Health Sports Medicine, and is also the team physician for the Grand Rapids Griffins, West Michigan Whitecaps, Grand Rapids Rampage & West Michigan Edge. In addition to working with several area colleges & high schools, Dr. Kornoelje also serves as Medical Director for many local community events, including the Grand Rapids Marathon. Dr. Kornoelje has continued to find time to run as well as play & coach soccer in the midst of running a busy practice. This gives him a more hands on approach in his field as he works hard to find a balance between treating athletes as well as being an athlete. Since becoming involved with the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon, Dr K has competed in one full marathon and three half marathons, with two more full marathons on the schedule. If he can do it, so can you!

Dave Leggett

Hi Everyone! I am in charge of the Marathon Expo held at the David D Hunting YMCA on Saturday before the race. I work at the Mary Free Bed YMCA as the Senior Program Development Director. The first few years of the GR Marathon, I was a volunteer helping out on race day. This is my ninth year on the race committee organizing the expo.

Running wasn’t in my vocabulary until after I graduated from college and moved to Florida. I was a serious beach volleyball player and played on a Beach volleyball tour. I started off running my first race in the Edison Festival 5K in Ft. Myers, FL. It was an awesome experience running with 800+ people, and in front of thousands of people lining the parade route, which was also the race route. The parade started the second the last finisher crossed the line, so you can just imagine 15,000+ people who are cheering you on to finish, because they want to encourage you or because they want the parade to start quicker. Either way, it was a win-win for everyone and I was hooked. Ever since then I started running in more 5Ks, then 10Ks, and then I made the leap of faith and did my first half marathon in Naples, FL. Didn’t prepare properly and made the rookie mistakes, went out like I was running a 5K, ran into cramping issues by Mile 10, but managed to finish the race. I have been running ever since then, with a few triathlons sprinkled in while living in Florida, then I moved back to Michigan and tried the River Bank Run 25K. Loved it and have raced in it every year since moving to Grand Rapids.

Since joining the marathon committee I have enjoyed the new challenge of running a marathon, and have finished 5 marathons including an awesome experience at my first Boston Marathon in 2016. I have met some amazing people along the way who share the same passion of running and community. I am supported by my wife, Heidi, and (2) kids, Ryan and Mackenzie, who are always cheering me on.

I wish all of you the best of luck in training and enjoy the experience. The marathon is just the last day of your exciting journey to stand at the start line with thousands of your closest friends you may have not met yet.

See you at the finish line!

George Ranville

I’m George Ranville. Mark Sisson and I coordinate the start/finish area of the marathon. 2012 will be my 7th year working with the awesome Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon staff and we are all dedicated to making your experience here better each and every year. The fencing, electrical power, tents, banners, flags, heat for the med tent, tables and chairs, trash cans, toilets, road closures around the starting area, and of course the chili and beer garden, are just some of things we set up. Our goal is to be standing around calmly well before the singing of the national anthem.

I conquered my first marathon at Grandma’s in Duluth a few years back, and then ran Grand Rapids, Glass City in Toledo, Bayshore in Traverse City, and Marquette in da U.P.  After a switch to minimalist shoes last September, I’m currently training for the Marine Corps Marathon in DC. I recently completed my first triathlon  – that was fun – so I’m going to have to fit a few more of those into the schedule too!

My wife Gail of 32 wonderful years, is the real marathon runner in the family, (Boston in 2012) and also is on the marathon staff. She’s the curly blond you will see around the event and as an RD, she has overseen your food and refreshments. Gail is a relentless trainer, and has not missed a day of training in years.  I can usually see her ponytail fading into the distance ahead of me when we train.

In real life, I’m the Executive Director of the Grand Rapids based charity, Alternatives in Motion, which has been providing wheelchairs and mobility to people without insurance across Michigan and in neighboring states for the last 17 years. www.AimGR.org I met Marathon Don at a 5k race held at a local school fundraiser for our cause. Don thought our mission was way cool, and wanted to help. He set up several 5k “brewery runs” that raised money and friends for Alternatives in Motion. We have been buddies ever since and together have helped many people who are in dire need of a wheelchair.  I recruited Don to our Board of Directors in 2009, and he became the President of the Board beginning in January of 2010.  Visit our website and sign up for our eNews.

On race day, be sure to have your loved ones purchase Finish Line Flowers in support of Alternatives in Motion.   Find them in the Start/Finish area. Have a great marathon!  See you at the beer garden!

Terence Reuben

Terence is an avid triathlete (Sprint distance Triathlons to 70.3 Ironman) and runner, finishing his first 1/2 Marathon at the Inaugural Grand Rapids Marathon (2004). Since then he has finished: Chicago Marathon 26.2 (2005), Grand Rapids Marathon 13.1 (2005), Post-Net Maritzburg Marathon 26.2 (2006 – South Africa), 2 Oceans Ultra- Marathon 56km (2006 – South Africa). He graduated as a Physical Therapist in South Africa in 1992, and joined Metro Health Sports Medicine in 1997. Working closely with this sports medicine team, he uses his specialty training in Orthopedics, Manual Therapy, Sports Medicine and Personal Training to manage athletes and their injuries in the Grand Rapids area. He also performs Biomechanical Evaluations, helping fit patients with custom orthotics. In addition to his role as therapist, Terence helps manage contracts with the various pro teams and community events in Grand Rapids on behalf of Metro Health Sports Medicine. As a result of this role, he has been part of the Grand Rapids Marathon Race Committee since it’s inaugural race in 2004. This year Terence will add the Grand Rapids Marathon 26.2 to his running resume. He brings his passion & experience in these sports to his patients. He is supported by his wife, Tina, and kids, Tristan & Nicolas, who can often be seen helping him finish his races!