Running of the Bays paces through west metro next month

By Nicole Brodzik
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With the scenic backdrop of Lake Minnetonka and the west metro’s natural beauty, the Running of the Bays half marathon and 5k has been picking up steam since its inception years ago.

Runners hailing from California all the way to Wisconsin make the trip to Mound each September to run the half marathon. It takes months of planning. Mound Mayor and Race Coordinator Mark Wegscheid said he’s been working on getting the race set up since February.

“We have to get our permits in order and have everything set up,” he said. “It’s a six-month process.”

The event features a half marathon and 5k course, but participants aren’t required to run either course, if they choose not to.

“I get questions from people asking how long the course is open for,” Wegscheid said. “People are welcome to walk or run. We’ll stay open and have people on hand to help keep everyone safe.”

The half marathon course takes off from Grandview Middle School in Mound at 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 9. The course then heads north to Burl Oaks Golf Course and then west onto the Luce Line Trail before swinging southeast through the bays of Lake Minnetonka. The half marathon finishes along the Dakota Rail Trail, with a finish line at Bethel Methodist Church.

The 5k starts just after the half marathon at 7:35 a.m. on Sept. 9. That race also starts and finishes at Bethel Methodist in Mound.

Wegscheid said that choosing which race will fit a runner best comes down to knowing his or her abilities and making smart training decisions.

“There are many programs for training to do a half marathon that can be found online, but the important thing is to know your abilities and train within that arena,” he said. “So, evaluate your ability and choose a program that matches your needs. If you are just beginning to run, your training will be completely different than someone who is already running five miles a day.”

One of the things that attracts runners to the Running of the Bays is that the half marathon is a certified race, meaning the official times can be used to qualify for other half marathons or marathons. Each bib is assigned a race number and official results are available after the races are over. Wegscheid said he’s hoping that, combined with the backdrop of the scenic west metro, will help the race continue to grow in the coming years.

“Now that we have built a process, it’s all about marketing the race,” he said. “For 2018, we’re really gonna amp up the marketing by online methods to reach runners, working with other races and starting the marketing process earlier. I think that this race could have the potential to reach two to three thousand on a regular basis.”

This year, the race’s sponsors are included in a virtual grab bag with coupons and giveaways for participants. So far, the 2017 Running of the Bays sponsors include Lord Fletchers, Our Lady of the Lake, Carbones, Jubilee, Minnesota Lakes Bank, Mound True Value, R&S Collision Services, Surf Side Bar and Grill, Choice Plastics, Dock and Lift, Minnetonka Drive In, Ridgeview Medical, Spring Park Pharmacy, West Lakes Dentistry, State Farm, Eddies Auto and Marine, Scotty B’s and Gear West.

To become a race sponsor, or to volunteer to help out at the races, visit https://www.runningofthebays.com/