Sunday, October 17, 2021 • Grand Rapids, MI • Course Map
Thanks to its gentle, forgiving fast and flat course, this race is considered an excellent choice for first-time marathoners and half marathoners, with a route that begins at about 610 feet above sea level and never rises higher than about 660 feet.
The attractiveness of the course combined with its relative ease has quickly made it a popular race, as past years’ races have seen as many as 3,000 to 4,000 runners cross the finish line in both races combined — including nearly 2,000 finishers in the half marathon alone.
When they set out to design the course for both the 26.2-mile event and the 13.1-mile event, race organizers say they wanted to avoid the “big city races through concrete canyons” kind of experience so common at other marathon and half-marathon events.
So they created a course that features the bulk of its mileage inside Grand Rapids’ Millenium Park, an urban park which is still under development but will be twice the size of New York City’s Central Park when complete.
From the starting line at the corner of the city’s Winter Street and Blumrich, the race’s out-and-back course follows a mostly southwestern direction toward the park, which also connects the area’s four major cities together — Wyoming, Grandville and Walker with Grand Rapids.
While the race’s first half takes runners along the park’s northern edge along Butterworth Street, the second half features ample views for several miles of the Grand River, which flows through the center of town.
Because of both the time of year and the location of the course, through lots of tree-lined parks and green space areas, there’s plenty of fall color on display, with all the reds, oranges and yellow leaves of the season turning and nearing or hitting their peak.
The race is also walker-friendly, and features a 7:00 AM starting time for walkers — which race organizers call the “velocity challenged.”
Race Weather & Climate
Nestled in the central-southern part of the state, about 30 miles from the shores of Lake Michigan to the west, the city of Grand Rapids typically sees early fall weather that ranges from mild and breezy with occasional rain to outright cold conditions.
On race day (Oct. 17), the average low is 38°F and the average high is 57°F.
- 7:00 AM – walkers start
- 8:00 AM – runners start
- $108 – $143 for the half marathon
- $128 – $163 for the full marathon
- $259 – $319 for the full marathon relay
To reserve your spot in the 2021 running of the Grand Rapids Marathon, Half Marathon or Relay, register online at RunSignUp.com here.
Official Race Website
Ever run in the Foster Swift Grand Rapids Half Marathon? Share your impressions here, or post your review in the Comments below.