Kalamazoo Marathon is back

Print More

The Zeigler Kalamazoo Marathon (formerly the Borgess Run for the Health of It) — in part — is set to return in person in April 2022.

“I think we’re all really excited, you know,” said Carrie Drake, the marathon’s race director, “having to go virtual was really hard for the community and that was early spring 2020 so a lot of people were feeling uncertain about COVID.”

“The full marathon will be back in 2023, just given some of the organizing team transition,” said Drake. “We’ll have the half marathon, the 5k and the 10k back all this year.”

Even though only a few of the events will be held this year, organizers expect a huge turnout:  between 3.5 to 4 thousand runners.

The 2020 cancelation

In 2020, the Kalamazoo Marathon was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and marathon organizers informed runners via social media and on the Kalamazoo Marathon website once they figured out what exactly was going on with the pandemic, said Blaine Lam, co-creator of the Kalamazoo Marathon who retired from organizing the race during the pandemic

“We saw the effects that it had on the Kalamazoo Marathon with its absence,” said Eric Blackwell, a past Kalamazoo Marathon participant, “Economically it’s huge for the city to not have that, but it was pretty difficult for the running community.”

“You know you train and you’re getting ready for these events and then it doesn’t happen. It’s such a huge emotional letdown,” said Blackwell, “To be forced out of an event like that is pretty difficult.”

Although the 2020 Kalamazoo Marathon was abruptly canceled, that didn’t stop the running community from encouraging one another to stay active. Virtual events were held in lieu of the large gathering event, and the Kalamazoo running community still had a strong showing.

Virtual alternatives

Lam said, “We had gone 20 years without ever canceling run camp because of weather, and we said to people ‘look, you’re trying to improve your health, and if you want to make the decision to come don’t be afraid but if you don’t that’s okay’.”

Lam then went on to create a virtual run where a total of 2,606 participants did either a 5k, 10k, half marathon or full marathon. 

“Kalamazoo has an extremely strong running community, it is fair to say that over the past 20 years we have had the largest adult run camp in America,” said Lam. “In most years we’ve had anywhere between seven hundred and a thousand runners every Saturday in the winter … We’ve gotten as high as twelve hundred.” 

Full Blaine Lam Interview (17 minutes)

Changes to the 2022 Marathon

With the return of the Kalamazoo Marathon in part this year, the concern of COVID-19 is still prevalent in the community. Drake said if there are any changes, increases in COVID-19 cases or mandates put in place, the marathon will communicate that to runners via their website.

“We are really following the health guidelines,” said Drake, “At this time Michigan doesn’t have mandates in place. Also, because this event is primarily outdoors that helps mitigate some of the risks.”

The Kalamazoo Marathon is set to take place from April 22 – April 24, 2022. Races are starting Arcadia Creek Festival Place in downtown Kalamazoo and will take runners throughout the city.

Even though the Kalamazoo Marathon is a competition, participants still take some time to support each other. Photo by Mindy Wood.

Comments are closed.