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The Bayshore Marathon took place on the Old Mission Peninsula today, and I just want to preface this op-ed by saying I’m all for people getting out there and running. I especially love seeing the oldsters out there pounding the pavement because, well, that gives me hope. Yay for all the runners.

But here’s how today went down. As is usually the case on Bayshore days, I awoke to the cheery sounds of people jogging down Bluff Road with a soundtrack of my neighbors’ energizing mix-tape nudging the runners onward. So I wandered down the driveway and hung out with my neighbors for a while, clapping and cheering the runners on.

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Then my daughter drove down the driveway in her car, and that’s when I realized she had to get to work about five miles away. She didn’t want to attempt driving amongst the runners, so I hopped in and we saw a window of opportunity and started inching down Bluff Road towards Blue Water Road. The plan was to try and cut through the crowd and make our getaway up Blue Water Road.

Oh my gosh. When we rounded the corner towards Blue Water, we could see hundreds of people, both volunteers and runners, at the intersection of Bluff and Blue Water. Along the road were mountains of spent water cups and trash, but that’s not the worst part (and honestly, the Bayshore crew did a great job of picking up every single piece of trash later – you’d never know there was a race there).

The closer we got to Blue Water, the meaner people became, shooting us dirty looks, shouting at us, and even knocking on the car, in some cases. I wish I’d gotten a photo or video of the whole scene, which I’m sure resembled protesters outside a Trump rally, but we were so overwhelmed that all we wanted to do was get through the crowd and get my daughter to work – which we managed to do. But it was a little terrifying.

Bayshore Marathon
These nice cops have to tell Peninsula taxpayers they can’t use the roads | Jane Boursaw Photo

When I dropped her off and came back – stopping for coffee and a muffin at Peninsula Market to kill some time – the cops at the intersection of Blue Water and Center Road wouldn’t let me drive down Blue Water at all – even though that’s not where the race was taking place. Of course, I didn’t plan on trying to get through the crowd again – that was off the table – but they wouldn’t even let me drive down and park on Blue Water to take some photos of the race and crowd. If I wanted to get down there, they said, I’d have to walk. And the cops were nice about it. I’m sure having to tell Peninsula taxpayers they can’t use the roads is no fun for them.

And hey, a walk would normally be fine. Any extra activity in my day is always welcome. But since I’d just padded down my driveway earlier in flip-flops, never planning to be out half a day, I decided to forgo hoofing it down Blue Water. Being a Peninsula girl, however, I figured out how to get home by trespassing through a few orchards (and passed a neighbor out there who was doing the same thing on their way to Center Road – hey, neighbor!).

So here’s the thing. Yes, I know the Bayshore Marathon is just one day out of the year. But how are Old Mission Peninsula residents supposed to get to work and function during the race? What if there’s an emergency? My husband and mom both have health issues – what if we needed to get them to a hospital (which, by the way, my mom did end up going to the hospital later today with breathing issues – she seems fine, but they’re keeping her in for a day or two)?

Look, I applaud the runners who work hard to achieve their goals, but much of the Peninsula was shut down for six hours today – not just Bluff Road and Blue Water Road, but East Shore Drive and Center Road, as well. Should my daughter have left the house five hours before she was due to be at work? Called in sick? Taken the day off work? What do other Old Mission Peninsula residents do?

Could there be a way to keep the Bayshore Marathon, but still allow Old Mission Peninsula residents to get to work and function on the roads? I look forward to your thoughts in the comments section below.

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31 COMMENTS

  1. The same thing happens to us when they do the triathlon just before Labor Day. Trying to drive down narrow Neah-ta-wanta with runners, bicyclists, and spectators is horrible. They tell us to slow down (we’re only going approximately 5 miles per hour) yelling, showing us the
    finger etc. They make it very difficult to get out. We have only one way in & out.
    I’ve tried communicating to the group who puts it together, but get no where. Maybe others might have ideas.
    These events are great, but make things tough for us that live here.

  2. I live off Bluff Rd too, and experienced “the mob” of car-punchers once on my way to work, which I found very unnerving and angering. Since then I’ve either taken the day off (which means you’re held at your house for more than half of the day), or I’ve left for work 3 hours early to be sure I was down the road by 7am (and STILL got stopped because the cops apparently decided they’d close the road early!). This year I wasn’t working, so we busted our butts to get some project supplies home by Friday night so we could hang at the house and do yard work all morning. It is only a little inconvenient, but it does feel crappy to know you are confined. And we also deal with the throngs – and sometimes it is 20+ at once! – of cyclists along Bluff all summer and fall, and they KNOW the law says they don’t have to hug the white line, so most REFUSE to budge from lane-center. Which often means you are stuck behind them for several miles due to the blind curves. It would be nice if they could alternatingly run the marathon up Peninsula Dr, or around Neatawanta Point, or WHY NOT THE LEELANAU PENINSULA FOR ONCE???!

  3. We on Neahtawanta have the cyclists all spring summer and fall and the triathlon etc etcetera. The Leelanau Peninsula would be a welcome change. Alternate events between the counties.

  4. Good job with the reporting, Jane. I’m a second generation peninsula resident and am not liking the commercializations of our dear peninsula. The event organizers have little regard for the problems they cause for people who live here. I echo a previous comment….. Where is the benefit in these events for the people of Old Mission? The hotels and businesses in traverse city obviously see a boost in revenue, run the marathon through downtown and compromise the traffic there and see how happy they are with the events.

    • Agreed. It looks like Chateau Chantal is ~ 5 miles away from Bluff Rd. And my grandparents would make us kids walk everywhere.

  5. We moved here a few years ago from Washington DC, where the roads are regularly shut down for events, dignitaries, marches, films and the like. It was a pain, but a part of life. A couple times a year, it is a wonderful privilege to share the beauty we see on a daily basis with others in our region and visitors. The challenges you and the other commenter face are, however, a problem. The race organizers need to make it clear to race participants that they are likely to see residents who need to get through, and ask them to be respectful. Clearly, residents alter plans and limit their needs to cross through race paths, but the race officials need to either offer support for residents to get in and out safely or make it clear to racers that they should allow people to get through reapectfully. I was at the township meeting where the race route was discussed, and these thoughts were not raised. It would be a fruitful discussion.

  6. We bought a home on the peninsula in The Bluffs and moved in only last week. We received no notification about being blocked in and had no idea what was going on. I had read about the race but it only mentioned that Center was closed. Luckily my neighbors watching the race explained to me, suggested I drive into the race in a gap, and I was able to drive the 50 ft to Eagles Landing and drive through to Center and Peninsula to get to my appt. I was driving too slow for the people running behind my car but luckily there were only comments.

    Yes this is fun and a beautiful place for a race. I understand that my neighbors who have plans move their cars out the night before and these personal things can be planned if we know what is going on.

    Emergency services should always be available and imo the race should be planned to leave one lane open. Driving through runners at 5mph is not going to allow emergency vehicles to get through adequately.

    Ps- Jane thank you for your reporting in general. It has helped me get to know my new home.

    • Thanks for the note, Michele! Right, I think there has to be some give and take re emergency vehicles and residents who simply have to get through. I don’t like the idea of my kids having to take time off work because they can’t get there through no fault of their own.

  7. I live on Bluff Rd and look forward to the race every year. If you can’t get the day off from work, maybe an adjustment in hours can be made. The companies on the peninsula know the restrictions for the roads and should accommodate the employees. I know it is easier to get up and down Bluff Rd after the majority of the marathoners have passed. I hope the rude people will lighten up and enjoy the day. I don’t believe that a single person has been hit by a car on Bluff Rd in all the years I’ve been watching.

  8. Our second year with the race and fortunately we can plan for when the border closes. Does Peninsula Twp get any reimbursement for these races esp since there must be expenses that we taxpayers foot. And as for emergency services, we were told that the EMTs can get through

  9. Are these legitimate concerns or is this just a way to blow off steam about the inconvenience you faced? There are so many reasons that Old Mission residents should embrace the race and only ONE reason not to do it — being a curmudgeon. The benefits to people on Old Mission:

    1. Promote health and fitness of area citizens as well as kids and other spectators on the peninsula. Kids need to see more healthy lifestyles.

    2. Increase of exposure and business for entities on the peninsula. After the race, the restaurants and wineries on the peninsula were packed, not to mention booked rentals, hotel rooms, etc. Its guaranteed income right on the peninsula. Plus, people who travel there for the marathon from other parts of the state, region and country can report back great things about the beauty of the peninsula, which leads to more economic benefit down the road.

    3. Heavily increased revenue to the entire TC area, which obviously takes very little … to no time to trickle its effects to those living/working on the peninsula. Do you think it is a separate economy?

    Of course EMT gets through. Why would that even be questioned? And for all that, you just have to “plan ahead” around the roads from 7 until about 11 on Saturday morning?

    Here is a big boost to your economy, run by volunteers and promoting healthy living to the community, but they have to shut a road for a few hours…

    http://www.bayshoremarathon.org/local/upload/file/TCTC%20Economic%20Impact%20-%20Community%20Presenation%20October%2021%202015%20FINAL.pdf

    I guess some people just like to complain.

    • Thanks so much for the note, Peter, and the great info. I appreciate your taking the time to comment and passing along the stats.

      I really don’t like to complain, and in fact, generally go out of my way to avoid confrontation. But when my kids have to get to work and end up being the target of shouting, car-pushing, middle fingers and nasty glares, then my Mama Bear senses go up.

      And I’m sure there are other Mama and Papa Bears and their kids who really do need to get to work. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone on the Old Mission Peninsula is rich. While it may not seem like a big deal for my kids to miss a half a day of work, it really is. They’re both in college and need that income.

      I’m not against the race at all. As mentioned on this post and my photo gallery, I love that people get out there and run. I support and applaud their hard work to get there. It just seems like there must be a way to make it work where everyone is happy. A few thoughts from Old Mission Gazette readers:

      “The race organizers need to make it clear to race participants that they are likely to see residents who need to get through, and ask them to be respectful. Clearly, residents alter plans and limit their needs to cross through race paths, but the race officials need to either offer support for residents to get in and out safely or make it clear to racers that they should allow people to get through respectfully.”

      “Based on where the proceeds are donated, I would suggest the race be moved to the TART trail system.”

      “It would be nice if they could alternate running the marathon up Peninsula Dr, or around Neahtawanta Point, or WHY NOT THE LEELANAU PENINSULA FOR ONCE???!”

      “The hotels and businesses in Traverse City obviously see a boost in revenue. Run the marathon through downtown and compromise the traffic there and see how happy they are with the events.”

      “The Leelanau Peninsula would be a welcome change. Alternate events between the counties.”

      I especially like the idea of alternating the race between OMP and Leelanau Peninsula. Has that been discussed among the race organizers?

  10. Everyone knows when the marathon is, just plan for it. Go ahead and cancel future races and see how much $$$ Traverse City loses. The folks who live there benefit from us runners, rom the taxes on hotels that this marathon generates. I personally spent well over $1,000 three days that I stayed in TC, not to mention visiting Fish Town, more $$$ spent up there. For one day, less than 8 hrs I think the folks can handle this. What to you do when you get 2 feet of snow dumped on you? Can you get out of your drive within 8 hrs?

  11. I too live on the peninsula and helped at the aid station at Eagles Landing and Bluff. I am so proud of those residents who gave their time and many residents of Eagles Landing came down to help with our Vasa Ski Club aid station. One resident in particular deserves lots of praise. We were running out of water due to the higher temperatures than the usual, for this event, and he ran a number of the Culligen large water containers up to his house for refilling. That is the spirit of Old Mission Peninsula that I like to praise and report. Regards, Curt Peterson

  12. I know for a fact that The Old Mission Women’s Club and Old Mission Library benefit from donations from this race, not to mention the Peninsula Twp receives a fee to put it on. There was also a survey conducted that showed almost every business on the Old Mission Peninsula saw benefits from people in town for this race.

    And as for how the area benefits,……The Traverse City Track Club donates over $200,000 per year to local organizations. Those monies are all earned from the Bayshore Marathon. Many of the other events that are put on in your area are for-profit, not to benefit others.

    I am sure it is inconvenient, but you just have to either plan for it or join in on the fun of cheering the runners on. They absolutely love it. It is 6-8hrs of road closures one day out of the year. There are meetings conducted at your Twp hall so your concerns will be addressed and a postcard is mailed out to residents about the event and who you can email if you need to figure out a way through,…they will help you.

    Peace to you all.

  13. In a perfect a world, everyone would be pleased with every event throughout our community and the world as well with as each other. However, we don’t live in a perfect world, and we’re never all going to be pleased with what’s going on around us. Where I come from, Flint, this what we’d call a high-class-problem. Maybe we can all work on learning to get along and play together with respect and harmony in the sand box.

    Frank Butz, A 20 year Peninsula Township resident, former Bayshore volunteer, current and past Bayshore participant.

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