Pro distance running's Michigan Pro Ekiden returns to Metro Detroit for second year

Pro distance running's Michigan Pro Ekiden returns to Metro Detroit for second year

Professional distance running is headed to the Detroit area as the Michigan Pro Ekiden, sponsored by the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project returns for its second straight year.

This year's event takes place once again at Stony Creek Metropark in Shelby Township on Wednesday, November 17 at 1:00 p.m. Last year the Hansons-Brooks team, led by Kevin and Keith Hanson, hosted the inaugural Michigan Pro Ekiden in an effort to bring this popular Japanese team tradition to the United States.

“We’ve been attending the CHIBA Ekiden for years and have always wanted to see an event like this in the U.S.," Hanson said. "We plan to expand to more clubs each year and would like to host international teams in as well.”

The Michigan Pro Ekiden is a coed six-runner relay covering 26.2 miles with leg distances varying between 5k and 10k. Many of the best professional training groups in the U.S. will be sending teams. Teams will race the following legs in this order: 6k women; 5k men; 5k women; 6k men; 10k women and finishing up with a 10k men's leg. Stony Creek Metropark, located about 26 miles north of Detroit, has been home to many key Hansons-Brooks team workouts since the team was founded in 1999.

The Ekiden is a rare chance for these professional groups to race as a team.

“We train as a team and love the opportunity to race as a team," Lauren Paquette of the Hoka Northern Arizona Elite (NAZ Elite) team said. The 2020 Michigan Ekiden, also held at Stony Creek Metropark, was won by the NAZ Elite team out of Flagstaff, AZ. But they will have their hands full this year with teams from the Nike Bowerman Track Club (Oregon), Roots Running Project (Boulder, Colorado), Minnesota Distance Elite, and the host Hansons ODP team.

Individually, in addition to the local runners on the Hansons ODP team, Grand Blanc's Grant Fisher will be returning to his home state as part of the Nike Bowerman Track Club team. After a standout high school career at Grand Blanc H.S. and then college at Stanford, Fisher turned pro. Most recently, his career hit new highs as he competed for Team USA at the 2020 Tokyo, Olympics. Fisher finished in ninth place in the 5000 meters finals and 5th in the 10,000 meters finals in Tokyo.

Notable athletes representing their teams include:

Elise Cranny - Nike Bowerman Track Club, Grant Fisher - Nike Bowerman Track Club, Woody Kincaid - Nike Bowerman Track Club, Courtney Frerichs - Nike Bowerman Track Club, Jake Riley - Team Boulder, Natosha Rogers - Hansons Brooks ODP, Scott Fauble - Hoka NAZ Elite, and Frank Lara - Roots Running Project

Location, time and coverage

Date/Time: Wednesday, November 17 at 1:00 p.m. EST, Location: Stony Creek Metropark, Shelby Township, Michigan, Where to watch: Live/on-demand at Runnerspace.com. (Requires paid subscription. Details at website.)

Prize Money: $50,000 in total prize money: $20,000 1st place team; $10,000 2nd place team; $5,000 3rd place team. In addition to team prize money, there will be $2,000 for the fastest leg of each stage ($12,000 total), and $500 for the 2nd fastest leg of each stage ($3,000 total).

RunMichigan.com will be on site to cover the event as well. Look for photos later on race day.

2020 photo coverage from RunMichigan.com.

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