The Rapidian

For Women Only: Gazelle Girl Races Coming

Gazelle Sports is sponsoring Grand Rapids' first all female road races this spring.
Underwriting support from:

Race Cost Details

Registration opens at midnight on December 1, 2012

Half Marathon fee is $75 from December 1 to February, 28 2013, It rises to $85 on March 1 until April 9 and on April 9 online registration closes. There is no late registration or race day registration. The race is capped at 2,000 runners. Fee includes a tech fabric shirt and finisher charm created by local jewelry maker Terryberry.

The 5k race fee is $25 from December 1 to February 28 and rises to $30  from March 1 - April 9. Late registration is $35 with no shirt guaranteed. There is no race day registration.


Runners /Courtesy of Gazelle Sports

Chris Lampen-Crowell, Gazelle Sports Owner

Chris Lampen-Crowell, Gazelle Sports Owner /Courtesy of Gazelle Sports

Even though the starting gun won't go off until 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 13, there are female runners that are planning to hit the registration button for the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon or 5k race first thing on December 1.

The race, sponsored by Nike and organized by Gazelle Sports, is unique in that it is open only to female runners. "We love Grand Rapids and West Michigan and feel that this type of event not only supports women locally, but encourages women to experience Grand Rapids in a fun, new way. We researched other locations of all-women events and found that they successfully included a wider diversity of women than most running events. We also found that there were no other comparable events in Michigan – always nice to be the first," says Chris Lampen-Crowell, owner of Gazelle Sports.

“It's a great opportunity to introduce female runners to a race goal via a supportive environment on a local course. The running community is one of the most supportive communities I have even been involved with and this is a great way to share the love.  As it is Nike endorsed, it will also be popular enough to be a destination race, which is good for our local businesses, too,” said runner Adrienne Wallace.

The races will take place in downtown Grand Rapids with the starts both at Rosa Parks Circle. The courses will be different than the Fifth Third River Bank Run or the Grand Rapids Half Marathon.The course for the race is 95 percent secured. Rosa Parks Circle is the hub with a loop through downtown, heading north to Riverside Park with a section on the White Pine Trail and a to be determined scenic turnaround.

“With the number of female participants in running events growing, we wanted to support those in our community who are active, as well an encourage women who are doing their first race,” says Bridget Meyers, assistant store manager-Community Outreach for Gazelle Sports.

The race celebrates the 40th anniversary of Title IX the federal legistlation that mandated equal access to sports for women in public schools and colleges. "We wanted to build awareness about Title IX. In talking with people at events we were surprised how many didn’t know. We are collecting stories from those women who were directly impacted by Title IX that will be shared on the event webpage and at the event," says Meyers. 

Three local Grand Rapids nonprofits will benefit from proceeds from the race: Kent County Girls on the Run, Grand Rapids Opportunties for Women (GROW) and the YWCA

“The three organizations we selected all do a great deal for our community. Most women we’ve spoken with have a personal connection with at least one of them. We want to build awareness for the great work they do,” says Meyers.

“We want to build relationships that matter and support girls and women in our community. Care and kindness are critical parts of a healthy community,” says Lampen-Crowell.

The timing of the race on April 13 is purposeful says Crowell-Lampen.

“We picked the date so that women that run either the half marathon or the 5k would be ready for the Fifth Third River Bank Run 25k or 5k  the following month – perfect timing in a training schedule,”she says.

“The River Bank Run is a staple in the Grand Rapids community. It is our hope that someone who never dreamed of completing the 25k will be able to continue on in their training and accomplish both events,” adds Meyers.

Men who attempt to register for the race will be bounced to a volunteer page where they can sign up to support the female runners on race day.

“I have mixed feelings about this (a single gender race) from an equality standpoint; however, particularly for new female runners, an all-girl group provides what I feel to be a less intimidating point of entry into the race and running community.  A big barrier to new runners particularly, is confidence.  Hopefully with an all-girl race, more first-time runners will feel comfortable making the leap into training.  Just as men need girl-free time, girls need dude-free time,” said Wallace.

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