2021 Stafford’s Top of Michigan Festival of Races

Half Marathon/10K/5K

Frequently Asked Questions

Memorial Weekend 2021

Half Marathon
Start and finish in Petoskey

10K Run / Walk
Start and finish in Petoskey

5K Run / Walk
Start and finish in Petoskey

Video from 2016 Race

Community Marathon Trails Council Petoskey Michigan

Like many things, the Stafford’s Top of Michigan Festival of Races will look a little different in 2021. Our main changes involve a new start line, out and back routes, and no marathon distance. 

With so many cancellations over the past year, we are moving forward with an in person event. In order to do this safely and efficiently, we will be consolidating our offerings, and will be as up front with our runners as we can be. 

We missed you all last year and hope to see your masked faces in May!

2021 FAQ

Distances and Start Line:
We will be holding a 5K, 10K, and half marathon on the Little Traverse Wheelway. Unlike previous years, our race courses in 2021 will be an out and back format. This offers us a chance to start and end our races in Petoskey – the city we normally just run though. And a bonus – official net timing! The nature of our point to point races and multiple start lines prevented us from offering this in the past.

TShirts and Medals:
Our goal this year is to keep things simple. That said, both shirts and medals will not be available – but don’t worry, you’ll still get some cool swag. Eliminating this element prevents us from ordering too many dated items and tying up fundraising dollars in gear we can’t give away. Did you know this is a fundraiser for the Top of Michigan Trails Council? The organization who works to ensure you have safe places to run, away from traffic?

When does registration open?
Because we are working hard to ensure we have a safe race, and are taking restrictions and executive orders seriously, we don’t want to take your race fees until our event permit is approved. Be on the lookout in late March for sign ups.

But what about hosing a healthy, safe race?
We are doing our best to keep our runners and volunteers safe. This involves keeping you posted of any changes, working with the health department to ensure we are following proper guidelines, and providing you with social distancing guidelines while you prepare to get on the course. We are learning to work in a more spread out world, we hope you stick with us as we learn the ins and outs of how to operate a running race in this time.

Yearly FAQ

What is the date of the race?
Saturday, May 29, 2021

When does registration end?
Preregistration will end at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 26, 2021 (no exceptions). There will be no day of registration this year.

How old is this race?
This is the fifth year? Do we count the non race year of 2020? If so, the sixth!

Is the course certified?
Previous to 2020, the course has been certified, but 2021’s race will not be certified.

Why did you change your courses and remove the marathon for your races this year?
For your safety, we had to make the difficult call to remove our Marathon and reroute our Half Marathon portion of our Festival of Races. As I’m sure you’ve heard and if you haven’t, here is a link to learn more (there are pictures in the Baird Document – there is also drone footage) – the Little Traverse Wheelway is experiencing a couple of locations with erosion issues.  The section of the trail in question is the most scenic part of the course and there is a chance it could slide into the bay.

Because our goal is to provide you with safe, scenic and secure race conditions, we feel that with the uncertainty of the condition of the section between East Park and Magnus Park just west of Petoskey would route you onto US 31 for just shy of two miles. Because of the traffic and safety concerns, we do not feel comfortable having our race proceed on such a busy stretch of road, hence our new route.

Where is the start?
Petoskey Bayfront Park

Where is the finish?
Petoskey Bayfront Park

What is the weather like in late May?
The average temperature for May 23 is 68 degrees for the high and 48 degrees for the low. However, be prepared for colder, wet conditions as well as warmer than expected conditions. Be prepared for anything!

Is there a course map?
We are in the process of finalizing updated routes, we’ll post them here when updated.

What is the course like?
The Wheelway is a re-establishment of a turn-of-the-century bicycle trailway that goes from Waller Road in Charlevoix to Hoyt Street in Harbor Springs. The trail itself is 23.4 miles and is surfaced with 8’ to 10’ wide asphalt or a 6’ wide concrete sidewalk and is open to non-motorized uses only. For this race, road connections extend into downtowns. A small portion of the half marathon and 10K will be on a grass surface through Bay View, to avoid vehicular and pedestrian traffic through that community. The route veers off the Wheelway north of Petoskey at Beach Road, and follows local roads through a scenic resort area along the bay. The Trail is relatively flat and prime for running a fast time. The Half Marathon and 10K are run on this same course. All races will begin and end in beautiful Bayfront Park in Petoskey for 2021.

Is the course closed for traffic?
No, it is open. There are many road crossings–many minor and a few major–along the course. Runners must be aware that traffic will not stop and they must be extremely cautious, as they will have to stop and yield to oncoming traffic. We will have crossing guards at major intersections, but runners must be aware and cautious approaching all intersections.

Is there a cut-off time for the Race?
Yes, cut-off time is 11:30 am, so half marathon runners will have four hours to complete the race. Runners on the course after that time must provide their own support.

What should I bring with me to the race to help finish and have a good time?
Suggestions of items runners have included in their packing lists:
Change of clothes
Towels
Your own water for fluid between aid stations
Gloves
Jacket
Extra socks
Extra shoes including a pair of non-running shoes
Sunblock
Small personal first aid kit
Snacks, candy and other items to eat after the race
Bug spray
Vaseline, sport wax or Body Glide
GU or your special energy supplement
Plastic bag for your smelly clothes after the race
Rain gear and/or umbrella
Sunglasses
Tums or Pepto-Bismol
Medical tape
Sports watch and/or GPS
Water bottles
Icy hot or ice packs
Ankle wrap
Moleskin, duct tape or Second Skin

Will there be a bag drop?
We will not be providing bag drop in 2021.

Can I have stroller, jogger or dog on the course?
No.

Can I wear headphones?
Yes, but you MUST be aware of your surroundings at all times and this includes being able to hear any verbal warnings/instructions from course officials, the sound of any other participants on the course approaching you to pass, and traffic at the road crossings.

Will this race be professionally timed?
Yes, we are still working out the details.

If I am injured, pregnant or unexpectedly out of town, can I get a refund?
Entry fees are non-refundable and entries are non-transferable. This means once you have registered, you will not receive a refund if you cannot participate. You may not defer your entry to the following year.

What about weather cancellations?
The race will go on rain or shine.

Why haven’t I received an email confirmation?
Usually the problem is that your computer’s spam filter has erased or blocked the email confirmation that was sent to you. Please make sure that you check your spam filter.

Where does my registration fee go?
The race will benefit the Petoskey High School cross country, track and soccer teams; as well as Top of Michigan Trails Council, a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to advocate for and facilitate the establishment of a multi-use non-motorized trail system in northern Michigan. TOMTC was instrumental in getting the Little Traverse Wheelway built.

Where should I park on Race Day?
Bayfront Park in Petoskey has parking available, in multiple locations. Please allow ample time to get to the starting line.

Is there a shuttle?
Not this year.

What about awards?
We are keeping it simple this year – no age group awards, except for bragging rights.

What is not allowed on the course?
Our ability to obtain a permit next year will depend on leaving the course as we found it. No trash on the trail, please. Cups and papers at aid stations should be dropped within 50 yards of the station or carried to the next station.

What airports are nearby?
The nearest regional airport is Traverse City (TVC) (90-minute drive) and the closest major airport is in Grand Rapids (GRR) (three-hour drive). There is also a regional airport in Emmet County in Pellston (PLN) (25 minutes from Petoskey).

Do you recommend any places to stay?
Please visit Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau: http://www.petoskeyarea.com/stay/
Our title sponsor also offers lodging:  Stafford’s Hospitality

Do you offer race day registration?
Registration will not be available on race day.

What about packet pickup?
We are still working out the details for packet pick up, so check back for updates!

Schedule for RACE DAY PACKET PICKUP:
Half Marathon: Waterfront Park, Petoskey, 6:30 – 7:15 am
10K & 5K Waterfront Park, Petoskey, 7:00 – 8:00 am

Are there restroom facilities along the course?

Restrooms are available in the start areas, at some of the aid stations and at roadside parks along the course. Please see the pdf map for restroom locations (coming soon).

Where can my family/friends find me for photos along the course?
See the interactive map for road crossings, once posted. Please do not park on US 31, as this is a busy state highway.

The Community Marathon Benefits:

  • Top of Michigan Trails Council
  • Petoskey High School sports teams

Race and Volunteer Contacts

Top of Michigan Trails Council

Becca Nelson, Race Director
231.348.8280 | info@trailscouncil.org