Imlay City running club hosts half and full marathons

IMLAY CITY — So how do you react when you are halfway through training for an upcoming marathon, only to halve the event cancelled due to COVID-19? If you are a member of the Imlay City Running Club, you adapt to the situation and plan to run the distance anyway.

A couple of the club’s members were signed up to run the Bayshore Marathon and Half Marathon in Traverse City on Saturday. May 20 of this year. The Imlay City Running Club was doing long runs together through the winter months starting in February to support those members who had signed up.

When the order was given to Stay Home/Stay Safe in the middle of March, road races as well as other sports were being called off as the date of the event drew closer. This decision could have defeated the mindset of those involved, but runners are known to be a different sort of person and many times have a very solitary sport.


Finishers in the Nowhere to Race Half and Full Marathon are (L to R) Julie Seprak, Mark VanDenBerg, Sarah Cilk, Mindy Kinzer, Jennifer Schoeherr, Jim Napolitano, Tina Raymond and Chris Gray.


However, long runs of 16, 17 and 18 miles and more are more a different story and club members admit it sure is nice to have company. Five members of the club continued to meet, running at an appropriate distance apart, and get the long runs done as a group on weekends and support the members who were training for the marathon.

The group determined they were following social distancing guidelines, only training with a small amount of runners at a time, and plus getting the fresh air and exercise the CDC said was important to stay healthy. During one of the longer runs, one of the members had an idea the race should be run anyway locally since the training club members were still following the training plan.

All of the runners agreed that a time trial would be a good idea since the training was being put in. A route was planned and the date of Sunday, May 24 of 2020 was decided upon, creating the Nowhere to Race (CoRuna Edition) Marathon and Half Marathon.

The route began at the Goodland Township fire hall. From there the runners turned back toward Imlay City and ran back to the fire hall, except the route turned at Hunters Creek Road, then to Blacks Corners Road to Lyons Road and then back to the hall. At the turnaround point, three other runners joined the runners and did a half marathon distance. Friends and family supported the group by having water stations positioned along the way

The race got underway at 6 a.m. It was preceded by the Star Spangled Banner and a prayer, then the five runners got things going.

Mark VanDenBerg (Imlay City), Julie Seprak (Leonard) and Sarah Cilk (Imlay City) had all run marathons previously, while Mindy Kinzer (Imlay City) and Jennifer Schoenherr (Imlay City) were challenging the distance for the first time. At the turnaround point, the group was joined by Jim Napolitano (Dryden), Tina Raymond (Imlay City) and Chris Gray (Lansing) who did the half marathon.

The start of the race was beautiful to say the least. The United States and Michigan flags were flying at the fire hall as the runners headed out on the journey.

There was even a double rainbow as the marathoners started their lengthy run. However, the rainbows meant that storms were coming and most of the first half of the race runners encountered rain, sometimes pushing through downpours. Nobody seemed to mind though as weekend weather was warm and the rain kept them cool.

The skies cleared as the runners headed back to Imlay City and the sun came out, providing good weather for the event’s finish. Mark VanDenBerg, Sarah Cilk and Julie Seprak finished together in 3 hours 59 minutes. Jennifer Schoenherr was next in 4 hours 3 minutes and Mindy Kinzer stopped the watch at 4 hours 10 minutes.

Chris Gray led the half marathon in 1 hour 38 minutes. Jim Napolitano and Tina Edwards finished with times of 2 hours and 10 minutes each.

All the runners were presented with homemade finisher medals that were a surprise from one of the club members.

The Imlay City Running Club would like to thank those who died in service for our country for giving them the freedom to run as well as their friends and family for supporting them during the event by attending the water stations.

They would also like to thank Complete Runner store in Flint for sponsoring/providing fuel for the race and post race snacks.

If you are interested in running with the Imlay City Running Club, you can check out their Facebook page.

Kevin Kissane has been covering high school sports for the Tri-City Times since 1985. When not standing on a field or court with his camera and notepad, he enjoys golf, travel and family. Kevin is a 1980 graduate of Capac High School, and is also a grad of St. Clair Community College and earned a degree in journalism from Central Michigan University.