Thanks to Health Alliance Plan (HAP) runners and walkers can once again spend part of their New Year’s Eve getting some exercise at the annual Belle Isle New Year’s Eve Family Fun Run/Walk before they head out to celebrate.
Back in 1970 Jeanne Bocci, a former nationally ranked race walker, and Jerry Bocci, an ex-college track athlete, started the race with a handful of Grosse Pointe Park friends and neighbors. Since then it has attracted thousands – nearly 1,000 last year.
That was almost the end for the longest continuously-held running event in Michigan when funding dried up. That is until HAP stepped in and provided the crucial funding needed to save the 48th annual Belle Isle New Year’s Eve Family Fun Run/Walk. The 5K run/walk will be held as planned on Sunday, Dec. 31.
“I am so excited that HAP came through to help us carry on this tradition. We are so thrilled that we’ve named HAP’s donation the ‘Event Saver Sponsorship,’” says Bocci. “The New Year’s Eve run is like a family tradition and I can’t imagine a year without it.”
The family-friendly event begins at the Belle Isle Casino with a one-mile race for children and an open fun run at 3:30 p.m. The 5K run and walk begins at 4 p.m. Free parking will be available throughout Belle Isle Park.
Here’s a look at the course.
The 5K course is a USA Track & Field certified course, which takes runners and walkers on a scenic tour through the center of the island facing Canada. The one-mile course covers the southern tip of Belle Isle and includes a beautiful view of the newly restored Scott Fountain.
The top three men and women finishers in the 5K run will receive gift certificates for Hanson’s Running Shop. All finishers in the 5K and 1 mile will receive finisher medals. All children 12 and under receive trophies at the finish line of their race. A long-sleeve moisture-wick “Tech” shirt is guaranteed for all pre-registered participants.
The will be food and beverages available after the race.
All courses are favored by the Downtown Runners & Walkers running club that annually participates in the New Year’s Eve run. The event’s success is driven by these dedicated runners and the hard work of local volunteers.
“HAP’s deep community roots are at the heart of everything we do,” says DeAndre Lipscomb, vice president of marketing and community outreach for HAP. “We couldn’t stand by and let a popular event like the Belle Isle New Year’s Eve Run disappear because of a funding gap. We’re glad that everything will go on as planned and that people will have another chance to get some exercise and enjoy the beauty of Belle Isle.”
Entry fees are $20 for children 12 and under, $40 for individuals 13 and older, now through Dec. 21. Participants are encouraged to pre-register at Runner Sports, Hansons Running Shop and Run Detroit until Dec. 29 or on race day at the Belle Isle Casino from noon until 3 p.m.
You can register online by clicking here.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has asked that all event attendees and vendors have a recreation passport for this event. Please see the DNR websites (www.michigan.gov/dnr and www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport) for more information.
Visit belleislefunrun.com for more information about the race.