By JAMES COOK
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — The Golden Mile is moving up in the world.
While the race has solidified itself as a Festival of Races fixture in recent years after a brief hiatus, it's also moving up in the order, now being run on the Thursday of Cherry Festival.
Typically run on Sunday, the elite men's and women's races will be held downtown at 5:45 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., respectively.
The Golden Mile course starts in front of Maxbauer's Market on Union Street, heads north on Union to Front, then up Front to angle up Railroad to finish near the corner of eighth and Railroad.
The event brings back the high school races for the first time in about a decade. The prep girls take off at 5 p.m. and the boys at 5:15 p.m. on the same route.
"When we started the Golden Mile back up four or five years ago, we really were just hoping we could get anything going that we could," Golden Mile co-coordinator Eric Houghton said. "We decided to wait a few years until we though it had its feet on the ground to bring back the high schoolers. We feel there's enough traction now to do so. ... It might be 10 to 12 years since we've had one.
"Asa Kelly was instrumental in coordinating and recruiting all these high-school kids, so he really did a lot with that."
The finish will put the elite runners at F&M Park right when the Carter's Kids Festival Fun Run starts at 6 p.m. The elite runners will job back with the kids.
The elite race features $1,000 for first and prize money through third in both men's and women's elite division, and defending champion Daniel Clark is back.
Kenyan Festus Kigen is a Golden Mile veteran, and is joined by University of Michigan runners Brendon Blacklaws and Adam Kern in the 11-runner field, as well as 2011 champ Ryan Foster, a former Penn State athlete. Local runners include Traverse City's Jacob Secor and Suttons Bay's Ben Wynsma in the men's division, and Benzie Central's Theresa Warsecke, Devyn Ramsey and Jill Louisignau.
The high school boys' race features local runners in Traverse City's Anthony Berry and Kyle Dotterrer, East Jordan's Josh Wojan and Kingsley's Jake Keena, while the girls' event includes Traverse City's Katie Moses and Ashley Ko, Cedar's Kaitlin Grigg, Benzie Central's Bryce Cutler and Manistee's Annie Fuller.
The Festival of Races itself kicks off Saturday morning with a 5K at 7:30 a.m. and the 15K at 7:50 a.m.