2024 Stafford’s Top of Michigan Festival of Races

Half Marathon/10K/5K

Frequently Asked Questions

Race Schedule

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Half Marathon
Start and finish in Petoskey
7:30 am

10K Run / Walk
Start and finish in Petoskey
8:00 am

5K Run / Walk
Start and finish in Petoskey
8:15 am

What is the date of the race?
Our Festival of Races is held the Saturday morning of Memorial Day Weekend.

When does registration end?
Most years, preregistration ends at midnight the day before the race. Depending on numbers, we may allow for same day registration. You can verify this on the registration page.

How old is this race?
The Stafford’s Top of Michigan Festival of Races started in 2015.

Is the course certified?
No, our course is not certified.

Why did you change your courses and remove the marathon for your races?
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, starting in 2020. 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’s Bayfront Park

Where is the finish?
Petoskey’s Bayfront Park

When does the race start?
Historically, our start times have followed this format:
Half Marathon – 7:30 am
10k – 8:00 am
5k – 8:15 am

Do you give out t-shirts and medals?
As of January 2024, this is in the works! We will have medals, and are working on the official gear for 2024. Stay tuned! 

What is the weather like in late May?
The average temperature for Memorial Day Weekend is in the mid 60’s for the high and the high 40’s 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?
Our course maps in 2023 were as follows:
5k Course
10k Course
Half Marathon Course

*Please note all start and finish lines are the same, but the half marathon and 10k run east from the starting line, and the 5k runs west. We do this to optimize our runners’ view of the bay!

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. 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, as well as a wood path connecting into the Petoskey State Park. 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 2022.

Is the course closed for traffic?
No, it is open. There are many road crossings–many minor and a few major–along the course. In addition, while the 10k and half marathon runners are in the Petoskey State Park, they’ll be on road shoulder. 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
Your own water for fluid between aid stations
Extra socks
Extra shoes including a pair of non-running shoes
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
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 do not have an official bag drop.

Can I have stroller, jogger or dog on the course?

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?

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 benefits the Petoskey High School cross country and track 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?
There will be top finisher prizes for each race, however, we do not offer age group awards.

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?
There is potential to allow for same day registration, dependent on participation number restrictions.

What about packet pickup?
Each year, packet pick up looks a little different. Check back closer to the race day for updates.

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. Note, in the 2022 runner survey, we heard a request for more restrooms on the course – we are working on an additional location!

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