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 cooladventures@aol.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.

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? **
For 2014–Blue, with black trim down the sides.  They’re long sleeve, with both men’s and women’s cut shirts. Just wearing this shirt will make you cool.

Speaking of shirts, you got any left from last year?
YES! Go to our Shop page of the website and order some.  Please!

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.

Awards?

Finisher medals for every one! (Marathon, Half Marathon, Relay)  Three deep overall and masters. 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! The Grand Rapids Press, 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
 (But you read that on the registration page.) It’s part of the deal when you get involved in a marathon. Registrations are not refundable. If you get injured or something you can defer to next year, you need to do it before race day and it’s $20. Deferrals after this year’s event starts will NOT be accepted.

If you wish to transfer your entry to someone else, it needs to be done at a least a week before race day and it’s $20 as well. DON’T EVEN THINK about messing around with this during race week.  Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to defer or transfer to another runner.

Can I Switch Races?
(I used to talk about Michael Jackson here but I decided to take that off.) You mean like going from the full marathon to the half-marathon?!? Oh. Sure. Let us know as soon as you’re sure that’s what you want to do. BEFORE THE RACE though. Switching in the middle of the run ain’t gonna fly.

Do you have an official training program?
YES!!  Check it out on our Training page.  Also, you could try one of our sponsors/affiliates do. Gazelle Sports Summer Safari programs are an excellent option. 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. (Local authorities tell us we’re not allowed to shoot you.) 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.

How about dogs?
(See the baby jogger discussion above. Then double it.)

Good morning. A friend and I are looking for a marathon to participate in that we are able to walk. Does the Grand Rapids Marathon allow for walkers or only require runners? This would be our first marathon.

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, we will disqualify you.  This is a race, after all.  At least ACT like you’re in a hurry.

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.

Showers?
YES! At the YMCA. FREE.

What does Boston Qualifier mean?

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

Is this a certified course?

YES! And YES, THAT MEANS YOU CAN QUALIFY FOR BOSTON HERE!

USATF Sanctioned?
YES!

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.

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 whatever.  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 if you were drunk 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.

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 near mile 12, but it gets over with pretty fast.

Chip timed?
Yup. 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 billions and billions of maple trees we have RIGHT HERE IN MICHIGAN. The Canadian maple leaf doesn’t have a guy in the middle of it either–check out their flag, or their hockey team, and see. 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 (Clif Shots, 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. Clif Shots Energy Gel 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 Metro Health 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.

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

As a matter of fact, YES. There’s the Groundhog 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!