By John Hogan
Duathlon fever is starting to grip the normally quiet Village of Cannonsburg as preparations hit full-stride for the third annual Labor Day event.
“I’ve never been in a Duathlon, but it’s what a lot of people are talking about,” said Dave Kaechele, co-host of morning radio’s Andy & Dave show on WFGR 98.7-FM.
“Absolutely,” agreed Andy O’Riley, a Sparta native who hosts the morning show on the classic rock station. “People are talking about the race – and the car, of course.”
The car is a yellow, 1979 Mercedes Benz 450-SL convertible to be given away as part of WFGR’s “98 Days of Summer” promotional campaign. O’Riley and Kaechele were broadcasting live in the parking lot of The Gristmill Thursday, Aug. 22 with the car parked nearby. Although the car raffle had nothing to do with the Sept. 2 Duathlon, questions kept coming.
“People asked ‘are you running on Labor Day?’ I told them I’ll be providing moral support from my couch,” laughed Kaechele, who co-hosts the radio morning show and provides traffic updates for WZZM 13 morning news. “This race must be a popular event.”
Popular indeed. The Honey Creek Duathlon charity event, which benefits North Kent Community Services and The Kids’ Food Basket, has seen participation grow more than 50 percent since its debut in 2011. This year’s race gets underway 9:30 a.m. but it’s really an all-day party celebrating the end of summer, organizer Don Kurylowicz said.
If you can ride a bike, walk or run, you can participate in the Duathlon, which consists of a running leg, followed by a cycling leg and concluding with another running portion similar in format to triathlons. Participants cover slightly more than 18 miles on foot and on bike through one of Kent County’s most beautiful areas, including Townsend Park.
“Our goal is to surpass the 150 participants we had for last year’s race,” Kurylowicz said. “As of now, we’re on track to exceed our goal. “I’m hoping people understand there’s the Duathlon – a paid event, but the after party with food, bands and beer is open to the public whether you ran the race or not,” he added.
The post-race celebration is a carrot at the end of the stick. Large tents fill the parking lot next to Honey Creek Inn, where racers and supporters can sink their teeth into smoked chicken and smoked pork dinners, drink locally-made beer and listen to music from five local bands. The post-race celebration runs 11:30 a.m. through 4 p.m. with live music beginning at noon. Bands on tap this year are Audio Blue, Mr. Mammoth, Bear Creek Revival, Outer Viva and GUMINA.
And speaking of ‘on tap,’ Kurylowicz this year is
launching what he calls the “first-ever Cannnonsburg Micro Brew Showcase.” Four Michigan micro-breweries will offer beers designed specifically for the Duathlon. Participating breweries are Rockford Brewing Company from Rockford, Perrin Brewing Company of Comstock Park and Brewery Vivant and Mitten Brewing Co., both from Grand Rapids.
“Part of the event is the Duathlon, of course, but it is really an all-day event to celebrate the end of summer – especially for people who didn’t leave town for Labor Day weekend,” Kurylowicz said. “It’s a way for families to have a good time together and have lots of fun before the kids go back to school.”
Mike Jonkman of Rockford, reigning Duathlon horseshoe champion, is looking for three-peat. “My cousin Joe Lang and I are hoping to get a hat-trick,” said Jonkman, who participated in the last two races but bowed out of this year’s contest after a disappointing loss to the Hogan family in last year’s two-person relay. “I’m better suited pitching horseshoes.”
Last year’s event raised $2,000 which was split between North Kent Community Services and The Kids’ Food Basket. “This is all about locals helping locals,” Kurylowicz said. “We are a giving community; people here enjoy helping others – and having a good time in the process.”
The participation fee is $65 for those who pre-register, $90 for a two-person relay and $105 for a three-person relay. For more information and to register, visit honeycreekduathlon.com or call (616) 874-7849.
Packet pick-up and late registration – along with a pasta dinner – will be 4 p.m. through 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 1 at Honey Creek Inn, 8025 Cannonsburg Road NE.