Bumper Bright and Beautiful - 2012 Bumper Run
Stony Creek MetroPark, Washington, MI
by Don Richmond
Shelby Twp (2/8) – Runners who showed up for the 18th annual Bumper Run at Stony Creek MetroPark may have been double and triple checking their calendars upon their arrival. Besides a few well scattered patches of snow, the white stuff was conspicuously absent, as were the bone chilling temperatures, bitter midwinter winds, and flake flurries that commonly are falling from frozen skies in previous years. In their place, runners were able to comfortably relax during their pre-race warmups, with ideal footing on the pavement and dormant grasses, with mild breezes, and a stunning sunset glowing crimson on the horizon. These were conditions more common to October or April, not early February, at least not here in Michigan.
An upbeat, determined group broke from the starting line at 6:15pm to embark on their single rolling circuit of the certified 6 mile paved park bike path, and would finish under a breathtaking ceiling of starlit skies. Donnie Richmond (Oxford HS/CMU/Playmakers Elite) bolted to the lead, and his single adversary on this night was the clock, as he set his sights on the 13-year-old event record of 32:23 set by Kevin Hanson in 1999. Hanson - a four time champion of this event, more wins than any other runner - was, in fact, in the field, as were 3 other past champions, including Jeff Rizer ('02/'06/'11), Rick Straughen ('04/'09/'10) and Richmond ('03).
Richmond - who had won the Super Bowl Shuffle just three days before on these same trails - continued to consistently click off splits in the low 5:20's, and knew it would be close for him to match Hanson's record time, but he pressed on. "Running in the dark is deceptive. You feel like you are flying, and maybe running too fast, but then you check your splits and they are not as fast as it feels. But I knew I would need a big push to get under the time, and ran all the way through the finish, but it just wasn't quite enough." Richmond finished in 32:27, still a course record, as Hanson's time was run on a previously uncertified loop. Second place went to Matt Tulpa in 33:40, a time that would have won 16 of the 18 versions of this event, and the fastest 2nd place time ever recorded, so it is the 3rd fastest ever run.
On the women's side, Danielle Savard of Rochester Hills, winner in 2011 even after veering off course, took the title again. Having no problems with directions this year, she finished 12th overall in 40:38 (course record: Kellee Lemcke - 36:42 in '06), a minute and a half up on her next rival, Laura Shamblin, who took runner-up honors in 42:09, a time that would have won 8 of the 18 races here. Savard's winning time would have won all but 6 of the previous races. No runner has ever won three consecutive titles at this race, and Savard will have the opportunity to be the first to do that in 2013, should she return.
Many thanks go out to local supporters and sponsors of the event who so generously contributed to this year's race. These include Fuddruckers of Sterling Heights, Hooter's of Troy, Buffalo Wild Wings of Troy, Joe Kool's of Troy, and Hanson's Running Shops, who all donated and giveaways to help make this event fun for all, and to continue to get the message out for runners, walkers, and all pedestrians, that safety while exercising should be the highest priority. This event is held each year on the anniversary of a local runner who was hit by a car while out running and survived, and would like to spread the message of caution and common sense while out sharing the roads with commuters and pedestrians while trying to stay fit and healthy.