A walk to remember: Half marathon promotes healthy living, commemorates fallen son

By Stephanie Sokol

The roads close off to incoming traffic at 7:15 a.m. Music plays and people line up at the starting line. Excitement is in the air as runners and walkers arrive to pick up their racing bib and prepare for the race.

On Sept. 30, the fifth annual Brooksie Way Half Marathon will provide a challenging trek through Rochester, starting and ending on OU’s campus at Meadow Brook Music Festival.

“We think (having Brooksie Way) is a great health and wellness initiative for OU and Oakland County,” said Campus Recreation Director Greg Jordan.

 

Brooksie Way gets its start

After 2008, when no major marathons were held in Oakland County, members of the Auburn Hills City Committee, including County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, met to create and plan a race as part of Oakland County’s “quality of life events.”

The race was a success, attracting 4,000 participants and making Brooksie Way the largest first time run event in Michigan’s history, according to Race Director Deborah Kiertzer.

 

Why Oakland?

Oakland’s campus provided a sufficient start and end point, with parking and adequate land for a large volume of attendees, according to Jordan. With participants from across the country, 6,000 runners are expected this year.

“The race promotes the county and showcases Oakland University,” Patterson said. “It’s reaching the status where people know about it.”

Funds raised go toward mini-grants, available for purchase by Oakland County businesses, for use towards fitness and wellness initiatives. So far, over 70 grants have been purchased by Oakland County organizations.

In addition to raising money, the race also commemorates Patterson’s son, Brooks Stuart Patterson, who died in a snowmobile accident during the planning of a race he was preparing to run in.

 

Events remember a fallen son

Part of the tribute for Patterson includes the Fitness Expo. Held during the two days preceding the race, the event aims to promote healthy, quality lifestyles.

The expo is free to attend and will feature 50 to 60 venders. They will be selling products including running apparel, shoes and medical services, as well as a Pasta Party and racer bib pick-up on both days.

 

Signing up to participate

Groups and participants interested in racing can sign up for the Half Marathon, 5K or 1-mile race at the event website.

Signing up earlier saves money with lower costs and a chance for OU affiliates to receive discounts. A registration form on OU’s website provides current students and alumni with reduced costs of $3 off the 5K and $4 off the half marathon.

Those who don’t want to race can still attend the event. Many volunteers are needed to pass out water and provide race side entertainment, according to Kiertzer.

Following the competitions, post-race entertainment includes venders, food and a celebration until 1 p.m.

“The event is wonderful,” Kiertzer said. “It’s a great quality of life, fun, family event. With the different race choices and opportunities to volunteer, there’s something for everyone at Brooksie Way.”