The “D” + Passport / Windsor Tunnel = My Hometown Run!
The 40th Annual Detroit Free Press International Marathon
Since 1978, runners from all over the world have traveled to Detroit to participate in the this race. This one in particular had special meaning since it was located in my hometown of Detroit. Believe it or not, despite having run on all 7 continents, I have never once raced in my hometown (moved to Charlotte over 15 years ago, but still)! This event embraces people from all walks of life, not just elite runners. One of a select few races around the world that can truly be called an international race — its course really does take runners across two nations — the route takes runners through the streets of the Motor City and over into Ontario, Canada, for a run along the banks of the Detroit River. Mostly notably, the course even takes runners underground for a mile-long stretch of the race, between the seventh and eighth miles through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel under the river.
On Saturday, I was fortunate to have friends, family and supporters show up to run/walk the 5K. After traveling from state to state for the #10for10Challenge, it was such a treat to have this special group participate and help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s research. On Sunday, I proudly ran the international half marathon through two different countries, a first for R4P!
Takeaways from this race:
- Average Temperature – low is 45ºF and the average high is 63ºF.
- 4 different race options and time limits:
- Marathon or Marathon Relay: 6.5 hours
- International Half-Marathon: 4 hours
- U.S.-Only Half-Marathon: 3.5 hours
- 5K: 1 hour 10 minutes
- International Half Marathon Course Map – view here
- Do You Really Need a Passport? – If you are an international runner, yes you do!
- WDIV Coverage – Special thanks to Priya Mann for featuring R4P on TV for this race
- The Race Route – Mostly fast and flat and run on paved surfaces throughout, the race experiences uphill stretches just before runners cross the Ambassador Bridge over into Ontario between miles 2 and 3, and when they emerge from the tunnel around the mile 8 marker. After crossing the bridge, and giving up the elevation they’ve just gained on the downhill side, runners then head into the campus of Ontario’s University of Windsor. The out-and-back run through campus then gives way to a roughly two-mile-long straightaway run along the banks of the river, along Riverside Drive through the Canadian city of Windsor. Runners then start making the turn that takes them through the tunnel and back into the United States for the remaining few miles of the race. The finish line lies close to the starting line, along West Fort Street next to the DMP building, which is also the home of the Detroit Free Press newspaper. All throughout the course, bands will be playing along the way to provide music and pump up the participants, the field of which will be open to runners, walkers and wheelchair participants.
- The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel – I have driven back and forth through this tunnel probably 50+ times; BUT having this open for runners ONLY was flat out cool and such a memorable experience to run from one country to the next. Similar to when I ran the Rock ‘N Roll Vegas Half Marathon years ago when they blocked off the strip, this is the only day of the year which customs allows this to happen. A MUST experience for any runner looking for a once-of-a-lifetime race experience in the “D”
- The Bling – I am a bit biased, but I was a fan!
If you have an extra day or two, I highly recommend the following:
- American v. Lafayette – Since the beginning of time, well, actually 1917, two of the most well-known Coney Island restaurants are the Lafayette Coney Island and the American Coney Island, which are located in adjacent buildings on Lafayette Boulevard in downtown Detroit. Two Greek immigrant brothers got into a business dispute, and in 1917 split their restaurant into the two establishments that exist today. In our family, we only eat at Lafayette because it’s THE BEST; but this is a contentious argument between Detroit locals, and visitors to the city.
- Belle Isle Island – Situated in the Detroit River, Belle Isle is a relatively small island measuring about 3 miles in length and only a mile wide, there is however plenty to keep visitors to the island entertained. The parkland on the island is stunning, and is a great place for hikers to enjoy a long walk. The island also has facilities for a number of other sports.
- Henry Ford Museum – Although not entirely focused on Ford himself, this museum focuses on the technological and industrial inventions and achievements of the United States throughout history. Some of the most notable exhibits within the museum are the very first steam locomotive, the car in which John F Kennedy was assassinated and of course the first ever Ford car.
- Your Choice of Casinos – If you like to gamble or just want to press your luck, you have plenty of options on both sides of the river. In Detroit, your choices include Greektown, MGM Grand or Motor City, while in Windsor, Canada, you can visit the Windsor Caesars.
- Fox Theatre – Detroit’s crown jewel, the Fox Theatre, has played host to some of the biggest names in show business and holds its ground as one of the top-grossing theaters of its size in the nation.
Ultimately, if you choose to run this race, you will see that Detroit is on the rise, why people love Canadians, and have the ability to run past happy-go-lucky customs agents who won’t stop you with your passport.
Still on the fence? Send me a message and I might come back next year and put you up with our family and show you how we roll in the “D!”