While many students will be sound asleep at sunrise tomorrow morning, around 30 University students will be wide awake, clad in running shoes, spandex and maize T-shirts, preparing to run across the state of Michigan.
The 2009 Race Across Michigan is sponsored by MRun, a student running club at the University. The event is the first of its kind at the University, and MRun members are hoping to make it an annual event.
The students will be running in pairs, and each pair will run five to 10 miles. The group members hope to complete 178 miles from Detroit to South Haven in less than 24 hours. The goal of the race is to raise money for the Girls on the Run of Michigan, an organization that promotes a healthy lifestyle for young girls.
MRun has already raised $1,150 for the organization through corporate sponsors, individual fundraising and online donations on the team’s Website.
Elliott Manzon, founder and director of the race, said each and every penny the group raises helps more girls to participate in the Girls on the Run program.
Sarah Brewer, co-director of the race, who was also a coach for GOTR last year, said she’s excited to raise money for such a great cause.
“I saw firsthand how donations were being used to sponsor girls who could not afford the program fee and how much this after-school program meant to them,” she said.
David Metler, president of MRun, said the idea for the race started as a joke when he suggested the group run across the country. Instead, the group came up with the more feasible alternative of running across the state.
The race will make the group the first to run across the state of Michigan, Brewer said.
Participants are divided into five vans depending on how long they want to participate, Brewer said. She added that throughout the race, they plan to blog and post pictures on www.raceacrossmi.com.
Manzon said he’s excited to work on a project that will help the group connect with the state of Michigan.
“The chance for us to do a road trip across the state is really meaningful,” Manzon said. “Especially to the University of Michigan, since we are racing across Michigan and raising money locally that stays in Michigan, which is something really positive.”
Brewer said donating the proceeds to GOTR made sense not only because it is a local charity, but also because of its “shared passion for running with important life lessons.”
The members of MRun plan to get the girls in GOTR involved in the race by having them run with the group for one mile down Huron Street. Brewer said that by running with the girls, MRun members hope to share with them what they’ve learned from the sport.
“Each one of us has discovered how much running can enrich a person’s life,” she said. “I hope that this can be shared with as many girls as possible through our support of the Girls On The Run program.”
Manzon said the group is hoping to expand the race in the future.
“I think this is going to be a continual event that happens every year,” he said. “We’d like to make a race against other schools and continue to get Girls On The Run involved across the state not just locally.”