by Ron Marinucci, Oct. 9, 2009
Last week’s Brooksie Way Half Marathon in Rochester and Rochester Hills was a special race. In only its second year, the Brooksie drew 2373 finishers. Toss in the accompanying 5K (1088) and nearly 3500 runners, an increase of more than 100 from 2008, took on the challenging courses.
Yes, it was a great morning for me. The weather was just about perfect for racing, with the rain holding off just long enough. I ran into some old running friends. There was the typically great organization from Deb Kiertzner and the Crim crowd. And I met each of the goals, pretty ambitious ones all considered, I had set for myself. Yes, it was a great morning.
But mostly this week I’ve thought of another aspect of the race. The Brooksie Half is not an easy course. Oh, it’s a nice one, but very challenging. The last half seems, as Matt Wentworth said afterward, “like one never-ending hill from seven miles to twelve.”
It didn’t matter who or what kind of runner I talked to—everyone mentioned the hills. Mike Rollason, an age-group winner by almost 10 minutes, trains in the area. He ran the Brooksie in 2008 and knows what to expect. Yet, he quipped, “I had to whip myself in the fanny a couple times out there.”
Zack Jones ran his first half marathon. He said, “Where I live and train, it’s pretty flat. But out here….” The roll of his eyes finished his thought. Adrienne Way admitted, “I wasn’t ready for this…and all in the second half.”
Coming off a good summer of running tough, hilly courses, (the Bastille Day 15K and the Crim), Sarah Beck took fourth in her age-group. Although she said, “The hills weren’t too bad after” the Bastille and Crim, there was a sparkle in her eye and a grin on her face. And, she did bring up the hills.
I mention these comments because these are my lingering thoughts about the Brooksie. It’s a tough, challenging course, not one for PRs or particularly fast times (although the Hanson’s Team seemed to do more than all right!). But I enjoyed the course, the challenge that it presented—those hills. And so did everyone else I talked to afterward. Some were Brooksie returnees and the others were already talking about 2010.
The challenge didn’t seem to scare off anyone; nobody indicated he/she would look for an easier race next year. Running the last few miles, I was struck at how many runners were still racing. They were clumped together, not strung out as often happens, at 7- to 7:30-paces. Indeed, although I’m not much of the maudlin-type, I was impressed and heartened at the sight.
This year’s Brooksie was special for me—the weather, old friends, my effort, and the great course. I enjoyed it all. But what I took away the most from it was what the runners, those of all abilities, showed me.
See you at the 2010 Brooksie!
Race results can be found at