At the Big House Big Heart Run, runners don’t throw their arms over their heads at the finish line. That victory salute typically comes a little more than 100 yards before the finish – right as runners hit the bottom of the tunnel entrance into Michigan Stadium, a.k.a. The Big House. What’s the big thrill? Oh. Come. On. You don’t think that’s a thrill?
Counting the fun run, there were close to 5,000 runners on Sunday who were there for that thrill, plus the chance to raise some money for UM ALS Research and Mott Children’s Hospital. Many of the runners had participated in last year’s inaugural event – because the thrill of a Michigan Stadium tunnel run … Never. Gets. Old.
That’s why The Chronicle set up shop right at the tunnel opening onto the field, not at the finish line itself (about 100 yards farther along the course inside the stadium), and not out along the course that required barricading residential streets – which this year wound past 828 Greene St. and 133 Hill St., two properties in local development news over the past two years.
The Chronicle adopted the same mission at the tunnel’s mouth as Denise Laburn, who was stationed there to capture her son David’s entrance onto the stadium’s field turf. We were scanning for David’s lime green T-shirt, which arrived a few ticks over 30 minutes after the start, according to the race clock. Depending on how he was lined up at the start, the chip time for the 10-year-old’s first 5K race could have been even better.
Of course, some folks were there to run a good time overall, not just to run a time that was good for them personally, or to have a good time. Nadia Baadj was overall women’s division winner with a time of 17:57, while Phil Shaheen took overall men’s honors clocking 16:21.
And then, of course, some folks were there to give other folks a hard time – in the friendliest rib-tickling sort of way. Helen Albertson was holding a hand-lettered sign that read, “Mikey, Did You See the Game? Scott did!” Who’s Mikey? Who’s Scott? And what game are we talking about here?
Scott is Helen’s son. Mikey lives in Toronto and makes his way down to Ann Arbor for all the home football games, including Saturday’s contest between Michigan and Wisconsin. The combination of staying up til 5 a.m. the night before the game plus pre-game tailgating led to a half-time stadium exit and an extended nap for Mikey, with Michigan trailing at that point 0-19. So he slept through the historic comeback pulled off by the victors valiant. As the sign says, Scott stayed awake throughout.
Even though the race has been put to bed for another year, the fundraising effort for this year has not. An online auction of various memorabilia – including some very fine autographed Michael Phelps swag – continues through noon Friday, Oct. 10, 2008.