Run, Oakland, run: Golden Grizzlies lace up to join the running craze

Despite below-freezing temperatures and snowy conditions on Thanksgiving morning, OU engineering student Khanh Bui braced himself behind the start line of the 2013 Turkey Trot 10K race, held in downtown Detroit.

“I was tired after, and the cold made it so much worse,” said Bui, 19, of his first-ever running event. “But I also felt really satisfied. Six miles was a big accomplishment for me.”

Bui was far from the exception that day. The race, held annually, boasted its highest enrollment in its 31-year history, with over 22,000 registered runners and 19,500 finishers participating in its themed events including the namesake Turkey Trot 10K, Stuffing Strut 5K, Mashed Potato Mile and the newly-added 10 mile Drumstick Double.

Harder, Better

The sport of running in America has grown exponentially over the past decade, enjoying an 80% increase in race participation since 2000, according to reports from In the past year alone, the number of running events in the US totaled 26,370, an all-time high.

“The demographic seems to be pretty evenly spread when it comes to running,” said Jeremy (last name withheld), the manager of the Troy New Balance store, a sponsor of the Turkey Trot. “Sales [in running footwear and apparel] have definitely peaked this year, though.”

Running USA refers to this immense growth as “The Second Running Boom,” and attributes the newfound interest in the sport to “new, fun, hip events and running series,” among others.

“The Second Running Boom” appears to be taking over Oakland University, too, as more students and first-time runners have decided to lace up and take the step to sign up for races.

 “I’m not a runner and didn’t practice at all beforehand,” Bui said. “My sister had to talk me into it. I felt great after.”

Faster, Stronger

Senior Charlie Lapastora can relate to the feeling of accomplishment involved in completing a race. After making the decision to run this October’s Detroit Free Press Marathon last April to benefit deprived children in India and Thailand, the OU communication major trained for six months in preparation for the event.

“It’s such a cool feeling to be able to say I ran 26.2 miles even though I’m not a runner,” said Lapastora. “Each step was a step of faith, and when I crossed the finish line, it was probably one of the most fulfilling moments of my life.”

Lapastora, who ran with his friend in his marathon, stressed the importance of running with others. “When you’re training with people, you develop close friendships,” he said. “You can relate to the struggle.”

Bui agreed. “I’m really glad I had my sister there to push me,” he said of the Turkey Trot. “Now I can see myself keeping up with running. I think it’ll help keep me in better shape and I actually wake up early to run now. I feel so much more confident in myself knowing that I can run long distances,” he said. “It was a really cool experience and I can see why more people are participating in things like this.”