TRAVERSE CITY — In a running career that has hit many milestones, Wayne Christopherson is about to reach another.
Saturday will be Christopherson’s 30th Bayshore Marathon, adding to a remarkable tally of marathons or ultra-marathons that will total 220 when he takes off for the 32nd annual event on the grounds of Northwestern Michigan College.
The 65-year-old Alpena resident has competed in marathons all over Michigan, and in various locales around the United States, but he keeps returning to the Bayshore for a good reason.
“I’ve mentioned to numerous people that it’s my favorite,” said Christopherson. “It’s one I recommend to almost anyone that they should come and run. I just love the course. It’s slightly rolling or hilly, it’s along the water. It’s not traffic-free, but it’s low traffic volume and friendly. There are people around here and there. It’s a great course to run. It’s gotten bigger than what it used to be when I said it was the greatest small marathon. It’s kind of grown.”
Christopherson is among more than 2,700 runners signed up for the marathon. A year ago more than 7,000 runners competed in the marathon, half-marathon and 10K events. Some 7,200 runners are registered in the three races Saturday.
“That’s pretty much the max (for the course),” race director Daniel Siderman said.
Christopherson returns every year, overcoming the mental and physical challenges to complete the 26.2-mile course that heads up the Old Mission Peninsula. Overcoming hurdles isn’t anything new to Christopherson, who continues to run marathons despite suffering a heart attack in 2007.
“I’ve kept at it as much as I had in the past,” he said. “I didn’t find any reason to change what I like to do. I ended up with a stent — done over there at Munson. Once I got back and was able to run I kept continuing on doing what I like to do. The heart attack occurred in June and I ran a trail run in the Upper Peninsula in August of the same year, as soon as it felt like it was right, or time to get going again.