BY MIKE ECKERT
TRAVERSE CITY — How long does it take to fill the Bayshore Marathon?
Less than a week.
And the half marathon?
Less than 48 hours.
Area races continued to grow in 2010 as more athletes took to the road, streets, tracks and trails for recreation activities.
The real race for some area events doesn't begin at the starting line. It begins months in advance when registration opens.
Highlighting the growth in events once again was the Bayshore Marathon.
After having 1,700 runners in the full marathon and 1,500 in the half in 2009, Bayshore expanded to 2,000 for both events in 2010. The half filled in 19 days and the full closed after about six weeks.
Add to it another 2,000 runners in the 10K, and Bayshore hit 6,000 runners on Memorial Weekend.
With the growth was a substantial increase in the prize money, bringing some talented runners to northern Michigan.
Bayshore wasn't alone among races seeing a growth.
The Festival of Races at the Cherry Festival approached 3,500 runners for the 15K and 5K. Plus, the Golden Mile returned to its original spot as a Cherry Festival event.
Runners in Traverse City continued to support the Frozen Foot 5 Mile Road Race, the Film Festival 5K, the Zombie Run and the Jingle Bell Run.
Even the Traverse City Turkey Trot attracted a record field of 1,200 runners this November.
Runners weren't the only ones getting involved.
Another big crowd participated in the annual Iceman Cometh mountain bike race. There were 4,000 riders in the Iceman, and more than 300 in both the 8-mile Slush Cup and Sno-Cone.
Also, the Cherry-Roubaix expanded in its third year to become a three-day event. Sprints downtown were added to the Old Town Criterium and the 13.7-mile road race.
And the VASA Festival of Races had another good year for the cross country skiers.
Expect more of the same for these events in 2011. Bayshore can prove it.
After expanding the field by 500 runners for both races, registration opened for the 2011 Bayshore races on Dec. 1. The half marathon was filled in less than 48 hours and the full was capped in six days.
The 10K at Bayshore is still open, but race officials are capping the field for the first time at 2,500 runners.
Don't be surprised to see it filled either.
Races have never been more popular in Traverse City.