TRAVERSE CITY — The Cherry Mile field is littered with All-Americans, state champions, former champs and even an Olympian.
The red-hot field coincides with weather predicted for a noticeable spike in temperatures in Traverse City, with highs expected to reach 89 degrees by Thursday’s five races.
The elite men’s race features a duel of the last three champions — two-time defending champion Mitchell Black of Ann Arbor and 2016 champ Jake Edwards (Ohio State University). Morsi Rayyan, a former University of Michigan runner, was the 2017 runner-up to Black.
Also among the men’s competitors are 2014 NAIA mile champion and All-American Louis Falland, former Grand Valley All-Americans Wuoi Mach and Zach Planning and Miami (Ohio) grad Stephen Biebelhausen, who has a personal-best 4:06.68 in the mile.
The women’s elite field features a packed group that includes 2017 NCAA 1,500-meter champion Jaimie Phelan (University of Michigan), two-time All-American Jamie Morrissey (U-M), Wolverines freshman and Big Ten indoor 600-meter champ Aurora Rynda, 2018 NCAA Division 2 1,500-meter national champion Sarah Berger (GVSU), 2019 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Association female Track Athlete of the Year and All-American Rachael Walters and Kuwaiti Olympian and Michigan State grad Danah Al-Nasrallah.
Rynda is slated to represent Canada at the 2019 U20 Pan American Games in Costa Rica this summer.
The men and women race for a $1,000 first prize, with money going to the top four.
The women’s elite race starts at 5:30 p.m. along Front Street in downtown Traverse City, followed by the men at 5:45 p.m. Those are preceded by an Open Citizens Mile (men and women combined) at 4:45 p.m., high school girls elite at 5 p.m. and high school boys elite at 5:15 p.m.
At 6 p.m. United States Olympic runner Des Linden leads the Cherry Kids Mile in the opposite direction from Little Fleet to Central Grade School on Seventh Street.
The invitation-only high school field includes includes numerous all-state runners from around the state of Michigan along with many local stars including Cole Truszkowski, Joe Delgado and Julia Flynn (TC Central), Libby Gorman, Sophia Rhein and Thomas Richards (TC St. Francis), Cierra Guay and Hunter Jones (Benzie Central), Lauren Wooer (Kingsley), Shelby Cade (Buckley), Isaac Stone (TC West) and Jeremy Kloss (Harbor Springs).
Registration ($12 cash) for the open race continues until 4 p.m. Thursday at Central Grade.