Brooksie Way takes over OU

Thousands of runners, including Oakland University atheletes, paced incessantly near Meadow Brook Hall on a chilly Sunday morning in eager anticipation to start the fourth annual Brooksie Way Half Marathon and 5K Run.

Nearly 4,200 runners readied themselves with constant ballistic stretches to warm up for the 40 degree sunless eight o’clock start time, while families and friends watched from the sidelines.

“Brooksie was very nice,” alumni Matt Shipes said. “The weather was a bit cooler and it was a beautiful day.”

The Brooksie Way course showcased the intense elevation changes throughout Rochester and Auburn Hills, ensuring the racers put forth a tenuous amount of training for the event.

The runners took off eastbound from campus, weaving through streets and trails to downtown Rochester., a website dedicated to health and fitness, featured The Brooksie Way in a comprehensive list of 11 of the most scenic fall half marathons throughout the United States with the Rochester trails boasting a beautiful view.

“It was a beautiful run. It kind of distracted you from how many miles you have left,” Colleen Denhof, OU senior of biomedical engineering said. “It went by a lot faster with all the trees around and running through Paint Creek Trail. Running is a big mental thing.”

The second portion of the race going up to Dutton Road and leading back to Meadow Brook was substantially tougher, mainly uphill infused with fatigue of participants.

“The first half was downhill, and I hit my runners wall on Tienken, about seven miles into the race,” Jackson Gilbert, a freshman majoring in political science said. “That second half nearly made me want to stop.”

Gilbert, who came in seventh place overall at 1:21:10 and winner for the 16-19 age group, was also the quickest to finish out of current Oakland students.

While the top runners focused on their quickest times, many participants were shaping up for the half marathon, by accomplishing the lengthy course was a victor in itself.

“Having a baby four-and-a-half months ago, I said I’m going to get back in shape and run the Brooksie Way again,” Denhof, who ran a 1:47:05, said. “This was my goal, to run and be in shape enough to participate since I worked so hard.”

Shipes, who finished 1:52:46, is part of the Rochester-based run club Your Pace or Mine, whose main goal is helping to get people active.

The race also saw the first ever marriage proposal at the finish line this year. Runner Leah Scharl of Clarkston was surprised by her boyfriend of three years, Leo Foley, when he dropped to one knee and proposed at the finish line.

Scharl reached the finish line as the second place woman  in the half marathon.

The Brooksie Way was created with the goal of bringing a sense of health and fitness to the general public, and the event has been a success with the increase in attendance with each year and sprouting of groups like YPOM.

For those interested in better health, run clubs are active year-round and The Brooksie Way will be returning next fall.