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When Bruce TerBeek ran his first Riverbank Run in 1981, it was to prove a friend wrong. His friend told the then 29-year-old he was a little fat, old and couldn’t run the race.
“I was a little out of shape. I’ve lost some weight and feel better and I found out I could be competitive in my age group,” The now 67-year-old laughed. “So that’s been fun for the last 38 years.”
The Grand Haven native didn't just finish the River Bank Run, he fell in love with running and gained a community he now calls family.
He has run races all over the world in those 38 years of running, marathons in Athens, New York, Chicago. But there is something about the race where his love for running started that keeps him coming back year after year.
“You know it’s like coming to a family reunion,” TerBeek said. “You see the same people there year after year and it’s the most competitive race in the spring time.”
But the 2019 Amway River Bank Run would have been his 30th. It hasn’t been an uninterrupted streak of 38 straight. Over the years, life can get in the way of the Saturday in May that they run the race. TerBeek thought that is what happened this year — that three decades of Riverbank running would be put off until next year.
“I signed up early because I always do, I signed up in January,” TerBeek said. “Then all the sudden this China trip came up and I said, I’ll just have to get the t-shirt.”
Then TerBeek heard of a new option for this year’s River Bank Run — The Virtual Race.
It allows runners who can’t make it May 11 to sign up for the race, receive their t-shirt, bib number, packet and run the 5K, 10K or 25K anywhere in the world between May 8 through May 31. Runners who registered and email runinfo@Amwayriverbankrun.com their time and distance will receive a medal for their respective race.
Riverbank Run officials have kindly reminded runners on their registration website, the Virtual Race is an honor system.
TerBeek went online before his trip to China and switched from West Michigan road racing to the Virtual Race. He now plans to run the race in Shanghai, China.
“Probably do some loops throughout Shanghai, that’s my goal,” TerBeek said. “I’ve been doing a little research and they say there is a park there that is about a three- or four-mile loop. So, hopefully I can fit that in from where I’m staying, go do a loop and do it early in the morning.”
When reflecting on the last 38 years, TerBeek laughs at what’s changed — He’s traded in the singlets and short shorts, for smart watches and better shoes; he’s switched from the hills near Millennium Park to the parks in China.
Even with his medal looped around his neck, proudly proving he has run the 41st Amway Riverbank Run, this year will be different — and as long as he can continue to run, he plans to pound the pavement in West Michigan for River Bank Runs to come.
“I’m going to miss being down there because we usually meet 35 people at the start line. We all talk and lie to each other about how fast we’re going to be going, about our injuries,” TerBeek joked. “You see the same faces year after year, it’s so cool. We will be in China and we will make the best of it that day.”(05/07/2019) ⚡AMP
The Amway River Bank Run presented by Fifth Third Bank with Spectrum Health the Official Health Partner will celebrate 43 years of road running on Saturday, May 9, 2020. More than 16,000 people are expected to compete in the event which features the largest 25K road race in the country and offers the only 25K Wheelchair racing division in the...more...