2018-12-08 / News

Volunteering for Great Turtle Race Is Good Experience for Students

By Ava Sehoyan


Mackinac Island Public School students volunteering at a water table are (from left) Brenna Bazinaw, Dominic Morse (obscured), Izzy Nitzschke, Derby Kromer, Nora Bailey, Albert Mosley, Wyatt Morse, Mabel Styburski, Matt Cowell (front), Guyil Mosley, and Xavier Mosley. (Photographs by Ava Sehoyan) Mackinac Island Public School students volunteering at a water table are (from left) Brenna Bazinaw, Dominic Morse (obscured), Izzy Nitzschke, Derby Kromer, Nora Bailey, Albert Mosley, Wyatt Morse, Mabel Styburski, Matt Cowell (front), Guyil Mosley, and Xavier Mosley. (Photographs by Ava Sehoyan) In late October, Mackinac Island hosted the annual Great Turtle Trail Half Marathon and 5.7 Mile Run and Walk. The Great Turtle Run marks the end of the Island’s tourist season, as the shops, restaurants, and hotels of the downtown area close their doors in preparation for winter. Joining the race holds benefits to the runners and walkers, as they are offered commemorative medals and Great Turtle Trail Race apparel. If one applies to all three of the races, they are given a special Mackinac Island Trio Series medal.

Starting at 11:30 a.m., the racers began their trek in front of the Mission Point Resort, battling the wind and cold rain as they travelled along the shore road and up into the inner trails of the Island. Dotted along the runners’ marked path, which included Arch Rock, Scott’s Cave Road, and several other trails, sat small stands assembled by Mackinac Island volunteers.


Matt Cowell (left) and Izzy Nitzschke offer water to spirited racers, including William Bejin of Grosse Pointe who was dressed in a turkey costume. Matt Cowell (left) and Izzy Nitzschke offer water to spirited racers, including William Bejin of Grosse Pointe who was dressed in a turkey costume. The majority of the volunteers were Mackinac Island Public School students. The students and other workers offered the runners and walkers water, Gatorade, and words of encouragement. Racers were faced with cold rain, muddy roads, and several spilled water cups, but the fall colors on the trees helped to raise the spirits of both the runners and the water stand workers.

In addition to the students at the stands, some current and former Mackinac Island students ran or walked in the races. Among this group was Gabriel Hepker, who is a senior.


Dominic Morse prepares to pour water as Derby Kromer arranges cups for the Great Turtle Trail Run participants. Dominic Morse prepares to pour water as Derby Kromer arranges cups for the Great Turtle Trail Run participants. “I ran the race because people gave me confidence,” Gabriel said. “I was told I’m a good runner, so why not challenge myself? I ran because I knew I could physically do it, so I did.”

As reward for their volunteer efforts, the students were given official Great Turtle jackets, and the school was given $9,000 raised from the race. This collaboration between Mackinac Island Public School and the Great Turtle Trail Run has been in place since 1997. The race proceeds goes to the school’s Sports Boosters, helping to fund sports trips, food for the athletes, and new uniforms for the middle school and high school students who participate in athletics throughout the year.

This race also teaches the student volunteers helpful skills that can be applied later in life.

“The race helps to teach students responsibility,” said Superintendent Bob Lohff. “Their willingness to volunteer is important. Without the students volunteering, the school wouldn’t get the money that the race raises.”

Stephen Eles of Houghton won the half-marathon, finishing in 1:17:13 with a 5:54 minute pace. Emily Short of Saint Johns was the first woman to finish the half marathon in 1:31:49, with a 7:01 pace. Julia Viel of Mackinac Island won the 5.7-mile run in 37:07, and Bo Schwartz of Midland was the first man to finish the 5.7-mile run in 38:39. Charles Byers of Troy won the 5.7-mile walk in 1:03:50, and Nan Lewis of Grawn was the first woman to finish in 1:05:07.

After the race, the 3,000 runners, walkers and other visitors were treated to numerous Halloween and fall-related events, such as trick-ortreating for kids through the downtown shops and adult costume parties held in local establishments.

Editor’s Note: Ava Sehoyan is a sophomore at Mackinac Island High School.

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