In his words below, Jed Maker, Board President of the Friends of the Betsie Valley Trail reflects on the first Ironman 70.3 which was partially held on the BVT.

The IRONMAN competition came to Benzie County and our community welcomed it with open arms. More than 2,100 competitors and thousands of spectators were treated to a well-organized and festive celebration — emblematic of what our community is about and what we can achieve.

Fantastic Volunteers Made it Happen!

This was due in no small part to over 900 volunteers many of whom served out of devotion to the Betsie Valley Trail, a portion of which was the chief venue for the run aspect of the competition. Trail Care Coordinator Charlie Gregory and his volunteers had the BVT in tiptop shape for the event and it was much appreciated by the competitors. A number of elite, high finishing, veteran IRONMen and IRONWomen were effusive about the course, including one top finisher and participant in many IRONMAN competitions was quoted saying, “This was best IRONMAN course I have run in the U.S.!”

One of the enthusiastic volunteers, Erin Bowles of Traverse City served on the SUP team monitoring the swim event. In the background is Charlie Gregory, also on that team.

The Friends of the Betsie Valley Trail was the beneficiary of a number of groups working as volunteers. In recognition of the number of man-hours donated by these groups the IRONMAN Foundation will be donating from a fund set up to reward their efforts.

Enthusiastically captained by Friends Volunteer Coordinator, Avace Wildie, members of the Benzie Bike Club, and Crystal Lake/Arcadia pickle ball players devoted many hours to registration of competitors. Dean Bowles of Traverse City captained the stand up paddle board crew on race day in support of the swimmers. Another group pledging its hours to the Friends is the Cherry Capital Cycling Club based in Traverse City.

‘Underpants Run’ Adds Fun & Provides Much Appreciated Donation

Members of the Ann Arbor Tri Club partnered with Stormcloud Brewing to put on the Underpants Run the evening prior to the event. 50 runners, plus many friends and family raised over $1,000 in support of the Friends of the BVT.

According to Bart Marowelli, as part of the Ironman history, and in order to help garner support for local charities, Kona (the original Ironman) started an underpants run, a fun, body-positive shake out run where athletes and friends raise money for a local charity. This Underpants Run was coordinated by Mr. Marowelli, his wife Melissa, along with Davita Burkhead-Weiner and Bob Headley, all of the Ann Arbor Tri Club.

Thank You to our Sponsored Athlete, Frederik Stig-Neilsen!

Frederik Stig-Neilsen, who represented and raised funds for the Friends of the Betsie Valley Trail, finishes the Ironman 70.3 well ahead of his personal expectations. Congratulations and THANK YOU Fred — Great Job!

We are truly grateful to everyone who made this event happen, and especially to all the trail devotees for their support. The Friends were thrilled to have been a part of an exciting, entertaining and well-run event and are ready to repeat next year!