Close to 80 people run in Firecracker event during July 4 holiday
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Grayling Recreation Authority (GRA) conducted its annual Firecracker 1-Mile Fun Run – an event that gives young runners the opportunity to race in front of Fourth of July parade spectators – on Tuesday, July 4, raising hundreds of dollars for the GRA cross country program.
After having to change to a different course last year due to a road construction project, this year’s Firecracker event was back to its normal course on Michigan Avenue. Participants started in front of the Rialto Theater, ran or walked to the halfway point near the Grayling Elementary School, and then returned to the starting area to complete the loop.
Grayling’s Independence Day parade also goes down Michigan Avenue, so people setting up to watch the parade also got to see the runners. The race started at 10:45 a.m. and the parade was scheduled to start at 11 a.m.
Event organizers said approximately 80 people participated, close to the same number as last year.
“Race went well,” said Samara Hartman, one of the race organizers. “We would have liked to have had more participation, but with every event on a holiday weekend it is a gamble.”
The Firecracker Fun Run started several years ago as the final race for GRA’s youth cross country club; club participants are also known as the “Grayling Mighty Milers.” In 2012, GRA opened the race to the public and turned it into a fundraiser for GRA’s middle school and high school cross country program. Grayling High School accepted the cross country program as a varsity sport last year, but GRA is still running middle school cross country and its K-5 youth running program.
This year, like in years past, the Firecracker event featured a large number of young runners.
“We use this event to highlight our Mighty Milers program,” Hartman said. “Running just before the parade gives these young runners an audience, and all the parade spectators have been great at cheering on all the runners along the course.”
Christian Artress, a Grayling High School cross country runner, was the first person to cross the finish line. GRA no longer records times for the Firecracker Fun Run, so a list of results is not available.
Event organizers said the 2017 Firecracker raised more than $360 for GRA’s youth running programs.