The Crim Festival of Races: A race for everyone
The former home of General Motors to the current home of "American Idol" finalist LaKisha Jones, Flint, Michigan, has changed through the years. But at least one thing in this former auto-making capital has remained the same these past three decades: the Crim Festival of Races.
Posted Sunday, 24 June, 2007
Now in its 31st year and offering a race for everyone, the 2007 Crim Festival of Races will be held Saturday, Aug. 25, in the heart of downtown Flint at the corner of First and Saginaw Streets.
The Crim (acronym: Coolest race in Michigan) weekend kicks off Friday, Aug. 24, with races for Special Olympians and kids. And that sets the stage for a Super Saturday - always the fourth one in August - of races including an 8-K run/walk, a 5-K run/walk, a one-mile run/ walk, a Teddy Bear trot, a new 10-mile walk, and the "flagship" event: the 10-mile run.
"It's a very cool event," said Deb Kiertzner, the race director, noting the various races and festivities offered at the Crim Festival of Races.
These activities, among many, include a race expo that starts Aug. 23, live entertainment along the course, and a huge post-race party with ample food and the Mo-town band "Rare Earth" performing in downtown Flint.
"On Saturday the race takes over the entire downtown Flint area," Kiertzner said. "Between runners and their friends and family and the media, it's estimated that nearly 50,000 people come to downtown Flint from all over the country and world."
And the fun continues on the Crim courses. "Part of the success story of the Crim (Festival of Races) is that people love the experience of running the course. The course runs through fabulous old neighborhoods, which have lots of history, and through downtown areas and up the Bradley hills. Plus there's entertainment (music) along the course."
Not only is the Crim Festival of Races "a very cool event" - perfect for coolrunning.com readers - but also an important event for the city of Flint, whose residents, despite rocky economic times, have remained steadfast in their support of the race, which began in 1977 with a 10-miler.
"It (the Crim Festival of Races) is huge for this city. Over the years there's been so much negative news in the (Flint) community," Kiertzner said. "But the race is a bright light for the community. And it's truly a testament to the city's support and the sponsors' support that the race is now in its 31st year."
How the Crim began
In 1977 Bobby Crim, the former Speaker of the House, began The Crim Road Race to benefit the Special Olympics. Along with raising money for Special Olympians, Bobby Crim, who still runs the 10-mile race each year, hoped to create a world-class road race in Flint and "foster community pride and cooperation among the residents of the Flint area." Mission accomplished.
Through the years the race has helped raise over two million dollars for various charities. Today, the Crim Festival of Races serves as a fund-raising vehicle for local charities including the Crim Youth Development Program, Shelter of Flint, the Michigan Special Olympics and Fair Winds Girl Scouts.
"The race has always been and is very closely connected to the Special Olympics. Helping charities is a very important part of the Crim Festival of Races," Kiertzner said.
Runners may donate to the Special Olympics Michigan and Crim Youth Programs by visiting: http://crim.org/charity.php
Bigger and better
As the years passed, the Bobby Crim Road Race grew. An 8-K race, a 5K Family Walk and Teddy Bear Trot were added to the schedule of events along with a Friday night concert and carnival as well as more Saturday festivities.
In 1992, the name "Crim Festival of Races" was launched and the event has continued to soar in popularity.
"Last year we had close to 8,000 runners in the 10-mile race, which is a record," Kiertzner said, "and a total of 15,400 participants in all of the events. And we are expecting more this year."
Fast times in Flint
Among the runners in the 10-miler are some very fast ones, as the world's fleetest of foot flock to Flint vying for generous prize money in a world-class field.
"We get some of the best runners in the world every year," Kiertzner said. "Greg Meyer (1983 Boston Marathon champion), the race's elite runner coordinator, said this year's field is looking very strong."
Prize money in the 10-miler goes 10 deep for men and women, including $5,000 to the race winners. In addition, prize money - to males and females - is awarded to the top three finishing masters (top prize $1,200), four wheelchair racers (top prize $1,000), and five Michigan runners (top prize $800).
Last year's winner, Samuel Kosgei, clocked a speedy 46:49 (4:41 per mile!), leading 10 men under 49:00, and Russia's Alevtina Ivanova topped the women's field in an impressive 53:06.
Michigan native Paul Aufdemberge, 41, captured the men's master's race in 50:34 and Ukrainian Tatyana Pozdnyakova, 51, won the women's master's in 59:00.
In the race for Great Lake State bragging rights and $800 prize money, a pair of Rochester Hills residents prevailed. Jeffrey Gaudette (49:46) scooted under the 50:00-barrier to win the men's division and Dot McMahon won the women's division in 59:20.
Three Flint hotels are recognized as official hotels of the 2007 Crim Festival of Races.
The recently renovated Holiday Inn Express at 1150 R.T. Longway is located near the race starting line and race expo. The hotel offers a continental breakfast and may be reached at 810-238-7744.
The Baymont Inn and Suites at 4160 Pier North - Mt. Morris Twp. is a beautiful remodeled facility with a work-out room. The hotel is offering a continental breakfast and a race-day shuttle to and from the race's starting line. To contact The Baymont Inn and Suites, call 810-732-2300 or visit www.baymontinns.com.
The Wingate Inn of Grand Blanc is offering special Crim Festival of Races rates. If interested, call directly for special Crim rates at 810-694-9900 and use the group code "CRIM."
New 2007 Crim Race "VIP Packages," which include deluxe hotel accommodations and many other perks, are also being offered this year.
For more detailed lodging information, including the VIP Packages, visit http://crim.org/travel.php.
And to learn more about the city of Flint, go to http://www.cityofflint.com/About/visit_flint.asp.
Come run the Crim
The city of Flint's hard times have been well documented. Michael Moore's film "Roger and Me" showed the effects of the 1970s collapse of the US auto industry on Flint and surrounding communities.
But like runners at the 20-mile mark in a marathon, the folks of Flint have remained strong during tough times. And through the Crim Festival of Races - a world-class event that has raised millions for charity and is the city's premier annual tourist tradition - a community has come together to support a good cause.
"Even in bad economic times our sponsors have been with us and the volunteers come out every year to help," Kiertzner said. "There's tremendous community support for the Crim."
So come visit Flint this fourth weekend in August and be part of the Crim Festival of Races, a "very cool" event with a race for everyone.
For information on all aspects of the Crim Festival of Races, including on-line registration, visit the race's website: http://www.crim.org.