Grand Explorers' Trail Race

It’s Almost Time For The Second Annual Grand Explorers’ Trail Race!

What can we say? This trail race is Grand:
Grand River, Grand Ravines, Grand bridges, and Grand views!

Race Update #2

Race day is almost here and we can’t wait to see you! Below you will find some additional details and last minute reminders.

Packet Pickup Details

Packet pickup is available on Friday, June 21, from 4:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. and race morning, June 22, from 7:00 a.m. until 7:30 a.m at Grand River Park Lodge. When you pick up your packet, either on Friday evening or on race day, you will be given a race bib and a shirt or socks (whichever one you chose at registration). The timing chip is on the back of your race bib so don’t fold it. Course maps and safety pins will be available if you need them.

We can’t guarantee shirts if you registered after midnight on June 2. We did order some extras and if we run out of shirts you will be able to get the socks instead.

Race Day Registration

There will be race day registration from 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. No shirts are guaranteed but we will have socks available.

We will have extra hats from last year and socks available for a suggested donation of $20. If you are interested in this option, you will be able to pay with cash, Venmo, PayPal, or on the Parks Foundation website.

Friends of Ottawa County Parks will have an area to stash your stuff by the lodge.

Getting to the Park

This is a reminder that the start/finish line for the race is at Grand River Park. Do not go to Grand Ravines Park!

Please be aware that the kids’ race starts at 8:00 a.m. and the 5K/10K start at 8:30 a.m. If you arrive at 8:00 a.m. or shortly after you may have to wait a few minutes to park as the kids’ race runs down the main park driveway before turning into the woods.

Parking will be on the paved spaces in the park, in the grassy areas along the driveway, and along the road down to the river. If you have to park along the road it will be a walk of a few minutes to get to the start/finish area.

Course Markings

The course will be well-marked with ribbons, arrows, and flags. There will not be volunteers at every turn but we will have flags and ribbons to indicate the course direction. There will be volunteers at potentially confusing turns where the two races diverge. The 10K course will be marked in orange and the 5K course will be marked in yellow. There will be ribbons around trees or posts periodically to let you know you are on the trail and at turns there will be ribbons/flags immediately after the turn to let you know you made the correct turn. Take a look at the maps before race day. It is your responsibility to follow the course as marked! The 10K has more turns than the 5K so it is extra important that you have your heads up.

Race Details

The kids’ race will start at 8:00 a.m. from the parking lot near the finish line. The kids’ race is stroller-friendly. In the event there are still any kids on the course at 8:30 a.m. we may hold them back from finishing briefly to get the 5K/10K runners/walkers started. We will use a mass start this year: all 5K and 10K runners will start at the same time. The trail is narrow and there is a turn in the first 100 yards so please be careful and considerate at the start. If you have a dog, please keep it on a shorter leash until the course opens up.

Faster runners should arrange themselves at the front and slower runners and walkers towards the back. The race is chip-timed so your time is only measured when you cross the timing mat to start (the kids’ fun run is not timed). We will have some pre-race instructions before the races start.

No strollers are allowed for the 5K/10K races. If you have a dog, please pick up after your dog.

Aid Stations and Bathrooms

Our aid stations will have water and ice. Aid Station #1 is located near the Grand Ravines Lodge, at 1.9 miles for the 5K and at 2.3 miles for the 10K. Bathrooms are available in the Lodge and are most easily accessed after the 5K turnaround when you run past the lodge. Aid Station #2 is for the 10K only and is located at the Grand Ravines dog park at around 3.7 miles. Bathrooms are available right beside this aid station. 10K runners will hit Aid Station #1 a second time at around 4.5 miles.

Race Finish

A finisher’s medal will be given to you after you finish. There will be food and drink available next to the finishing area. A few of our sponsors will be there to provide information and some give-aways. The park has some picnic tables available and a lot of grassy area so that you can hang out while waiting for others to finish. You are welcome to bring your own lawn chairs if you want. As soon as all age group winners are in we will start the awards ceremony.


We will have awards available for the top three runners in each age group as well as overall, masters, and grand masters runners. The overall, masters, and grand masters winners will be based on gun time, not chip time. All other awards will be based on chip time. For age group awards, you must be present at the awards ceremony in order to pick up your award. You will be able to choose your own prize from a variety of gifts from our sponsors and locally-made crafts.

Race Update #1

We are now a little over two weeks out from the Grand Explorer’s Trail Race and we wanted to give you some preliminary information to let you know about the plans for race day. We are excited about running the race in these two beautiful parks and hope you will let your friends know about this great opportunity to enjoy the amazing Ottawa County park system. The parks have dried out from the spring rains and everything has greened up nicely.

Course Notes

Both courses are a little longer than the advertised 5K and 10K distances. This isn’t unusual for trail races but we wanted to let you know that you probably won’t get a personal record on these courses. Both courses are about 35% grass/dirt and 65% pavement so your times will naturally be a little slower than on a course that is 100% pavement. Enjoy the beauty of running on the unpaved trails amidst the forest. The footing can be uneven and there are some roots on the trails so keep your eyes open and run at the pace where you feel comfortable.

The courses remain the same as last year with one exception: we will be running the first hill of the 10K in a clockwise direction instead of the counterclockwise direction that we used last year. This is to facilitate the flow of traffic at the bottom of the hill. It does make for a steeper descent of the hill so just be careful if you aren’t used to running down hills.

Starting Line Notes

Last year we used a wave start but we have decided to go with a mass start this year with 5K and 10K runners leaving at the same time. To accommodate this we have moved the start/finish line 50 yards further into the parking lot so there is a little room for runners to space themselves out before turning onto the narrow trail. Be aware that the first turn is a little tight so slow down and be courteous to your fellow runners.

We do want you to line up by race pace so faster runners should start at the front and slower runners and walkers should start near the back. Runners with dogs should keep them on a short leash at the start. Age group awards placement is determined by chip time, not gun time. Your time doesn’t start until you cross the starting mats. For overall awards, your placement is determined by gun time so you will want to start near the front if you think you will be in the running for overall or masters overall awards.


We have received numerous questions from people wondering if they can walk the course. Yes, the 5K should not be a problem. The timing company will be set up until 10:30 am. That allows two hours for race completion. For the 10K, it can also be walked in that amount of time but it will require a quick walking pace to do it. You are welcome to walk the 10K course but it is possible that you will finish after the clock has been put away. You can still participate in all of the festivities for the day. You may want to print out a map of the course and take it with you if you think you will be on the course for longer than two hours. We will be cleaning up the park by 11:30am.

Early Shirt Pick-Up and Late Registration

We will have early shirt pick-up and late registration available on Friday, June 21, from 4:30 to 7:00 pm and on Saturday, June 22, from 7:00 to 7:30 am at the Grand River Park Lodge.

Arrival Time on Race Day

On Race Day, the Kids’ Fun Run starts at 8:00 am and the course does utilize the driveway into the park. It is preferable that you arrive before 8:00 so be aware that if you arrive after 8:00 you may have to wait a few minutes for the kids to clear the driveway before parking. We will have volunteers directing traffic that morning.


One of the things that people loved about this race last year was the awards that were offered. We let people choose their own awards from a large variety of handmade items and other items that were donated by our generous sponsors. We hope to keep the awards ceremony moving more quickly this year so stick around if you think that you have won something.

Directions to the Park

Please be aware that the start/finish area is at Grand River County Park. Google Maps will give you the correct routing to get there. Do not go to Grand Ravines North or South! These parks are nearly adjacent to each other and are similarly named, which does cause confusion at times.

Visiting the Park

If you want to visit the parks ahead of time, now is a great time to go. The river has receded (it often overflows its banks in the spring) and the entire course is accessible. There may still be some mud on the trails if you visit after a rain but everything is fairly well dried out by now.



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