by JOHN HOGAN
Sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 80s provided ideal conditions for nearly 150 participants in the second annual Honey Creek Duathlon held Monday in downtown Cannonsburg.
Racers covered more than 18 miles on bike and on foot, and then returned to Honey Creek Inn for an afternoon of food, drink and family fun.
The Labor Day event raised more than $2,000 for North Kent Community Services and The Kids’ Food Basket, an organization seeking to eradicate childhood hunger in the greater Grand Rapids area.
Attendance was up more than 20 percent from last year’s inaugural event, said race organizer Don Kurylowicz, who finished in 2 hours, 7 minutes.
“I am ecstatic with the turnout, both for the race and the post-race activities,” Kurylowicz said. “What a great way to celebrate Labor Day and help those who are less fortunate.”
Monday’s duathlon winded its way through Cannon, Vergennes, Grattan and Ada townships. It started at 9:30 a.m. with a 2.5k run, followed by a 22k bike ride and ending with a 5k run. Participants ranged in age from 14 to 70. Among the racers was world class distance runner Greg Meyer, the last American to win the Boston Marathon.
“What a great way to draw people together,” said Meyer, 56, who finished in 1 hour, 24 minutes. “It’s like an old community event similar to those we grew up with.”
Meyer received a moose pendant for the best finish in the 55 to 60 age group. “This is going right next to Boston,” he said.
The overall duathlon winner was 33-year-old Jimi Minnema, who completed the course in 1 hour, 2 minutes and 42 seconds.
Participants could complete the duathlon solo or participate in relay teams of up to three people. Mike Jonkman, who participated in last year’s event, opted for the biking portion, covering about 13.5 miles, while his son, Kenzie, 17, did the two running segments. Having Kenzie, a Rockford High School senior, run the combined 4.6 miles was a godsend, Jonkman said. They completed the three segments in 1 hour, 51 minutes.
“I can’t run like I used to,” Jonkman said. “And the biking portion killed me with all the hills. I wanted to get off the bike a hundred times, but said ‘no, you’ve got to keep going.’ I prefer pitching horseshoes.”
And that he did.
Jonkman and his partner, Joe Lang, won the horseshoe competition in a 5 p.m. showdown. Other post-race activities included music from four bands, duck races and an ice cream-eating contest.
Family-friendly events and a laid-back atmosphere helped woo Al Supp of Cannon Township to Monday’s duathlon.
“So many running and biking events have become too serious,” said Supp, 48, who’s participated in his share of competitive events, including triathlons. “People here are just out to have fun and help raise money for worthy causes.”
Supp said he sensed a heartfelt community spirit unlike any he’s experienced in myriad races he’s completed.
“There’s something special about this community that you can’t put into words,” he said. “And there’s a guy who keeps dressing up a moose, so I figured it’s got to be fun.”
The “guy,” of course, is Kurylowicz, and the moose is Ralph. The imposing moose donned an orange Rockford Rams vest as he stood in front of the Grist Mill and posed for photos.
“This is a small town with a can-do spirit,” Kurylowicz said. “It’s about locals giving back to the community and helping neighbors in need. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate and honor the spirit of