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May 20, 2013
Runners Race to Benefit the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail in the Great Lakes Bay Marathon
Brighid Klick
About 600 runners turned out for this year’s Great Lakes Bay Marathon in Midland, featuring about 200 runners in the full marathon and 400 in the half marathon.  The course, just as last year, was a Boston Marathon-qualifying course.  Proceeds benefitted the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail, which, once completed, will turn the current trails in an interconnected trail system approximately 100 miles long.  The goal of this non-motorized trail system is to improve the health of the Bay area and provide new opportunities for runners, cyclists, and walkers to see the region’s beauty.  Both the 2012 and 2013 marathons were held in support of this effort.
Jeffrey Schlenker, a resident of Saginaw, crossed the finish line first in the marathon event with a time of 2:50:17—nearly 12 minutes before the second place runner.  Next was Jay Steele of Plymouth, finishing in 3:02:09. Third place went to Chris Woodring, a native of Canton, finishing less than two minutes later with a time of 3:03:57. All three men successfully qualified for Boston, as did the top three women.  Lisa Altman of Saint Joseph came in first at 3:23:04, only five seconds ahead of second place Amanda Lacertosa from Saginaw with a time of 3:23:09. The third place finisher, Haley Knoll, a resident of Mount Pleasant, completed her race in 3:30:44.
Midland’s own Jessica Reeves cruised to first in the women’s division of the half marathon, finishing the race in 1:30:21, taking ninth place overall almost six full minutes ahead of second place.  Stacie Battjes, traveling to Michigan from Lewisville, NC, came in second at 1:36:13. Forty seconds behind her was Beth O’Laughlin of Midland, who rounded out the top three with a time of 1:36:53. Six minutes is what divided first from second place in the men’s division as well, with Jason Lafave of Sanford stealing first with a time of 1:14:31 and Ryan Hackett, a Shepherd native, taking second in 1:20:58. Another Midlander, Mark Davidhizar, followed closely behind and finished in 1:22:25, taking third place.
The Great Lakes Bay Marathon was the final event in the weekend-long Dow Weekend of Races, which began Saturday, May 18 with the Midland Community Center’s Dow RunWalk.  Runners saw favorable temperatures in the 60s and 70s, as opposed to the 90 degree weather of last year’s race.  The full and half marathon finished at home plate in the Dow baseball stadium—the Dow Diamond—which brought a sense of small-town community to the event that drew in participants from 18 states.  This year’s race was a revamped version of “The Qualifier” marathon held in 2012, and will most likely continue next year, starting and finishing again at the Diamond.
Next Article: May 15, 2013