As a writer for My City Magazine since its inception, I have had the honor of writing many stories about the HAP Crim Festival of Races. I’ve become well-versed on its history and have interviewed many people who help make this race so very special and a premiere event for Flint. But my first experience with the Crim goes back a few years when I was working for the Social Security Administration back in the late 70s at the office formerly located Downtown on Stevens Street.
I was working overtime one Saturday and when I pulled into the office early that morning, there wasn’t a parking space to be found. When I finally found a spot down the street, I walked into the office and asked, ‘What the heck is going on?’ A co-worker answered, ‘It’s Crim Day – a big road race Downtown.’ Having recently moved to Flint from another state, I had never heard of it. But I was intrigued and decided I wanted to either go see the race or maybe participate in the 5K Walk with my friends (I am NOT a runner).
So, the following year, I got a group together to watch the 10-mile run and participate in the 5K Walk. From that day on, I knew that The Crim was a very special event. You could just feel the electricity and excitement in the air. Over the years, I discovered that many of my friends ran the 10-mile race and I would go and watch them. I saw one friend drop 20 pounds while training for the race.
I was very excited that one of my first assignments as a writer for MCM was to interview Lois Craig, who was the founding race director, assistant to Bobby Crim who was the Michigan Speaker of the House at the time. Bobby was trying to find a way to spur funding for Special Olympics and came up with the idea for a road race. Planning for the event took place at Craig’s kitchen table.
Craig shared her thoughts about that first year with just 707 runners in the Bobby Crim Race. “We did everything wrong that year,” she told me. The fourth Saturday of August was the only day available and when it was voted on to change the race time to noon, Craig voted against it, worried about the participants running during the hottest hours on an August day. That first year, there wasn’t a plan in place for medical emergencies and not enough water stations – but, they raised over $30,000 for Special Olympics. The race continued the following year and by the third year, there were 34,000 runners from all over the world, qualifying it to become an international race.
I have written a story every year about the HAP Crim Festival of Races, interviewing Race Director Andy Younger, Founder Bobby Crim, the 30-year runners, the Kenyans, the wheelers and many of the racers and volunteers. And every year, the event just gets bigger and better, and everyone involved is passionate and proud of it. This year, the Crim will take place on August 23-24. Maybe I will see you there. I’m still not a runner, but I will be cheering on the sideline!