JACKSON, Mich. — Hundreds gathered in Jackson on Saturday to participate in the Orthopaedic Rehab Specialists' OktoberFest race.
Mark Stiles who helped put together the event walked a 5K a little differently than in previous years— with a walker, to honor a friend.
“I’m using this walker today because I met a special lady that was part of these races about four years ago," Stiles said.
Stiles became friends with Margie Slater, a woman in her late 70s, who loved participating in the races with her walker.
“She said, 'Who the heck told you I was 90? I’m only 77.' So we got to be friends. After that she forgave me and we got to be close friends," he said.
Slater passed away this last year following a car accident in Florida. To honor her, Stiles decided to walk the race in her honor.
“When I was looking ahead to the 2021 race series, I knew she wouldn't be a part of it. But I knew that when our race came around in October, that was kind of a memory to her. I would walk the race with a walker which explains the walker in front of me," he said.
Stiles said the race wasn't easy with a walker.
“There was a lot of cobblestone. There was broken roads. There was some red brick along the way and curbs and things like that," Stiles said. "So I'm quite impressed with how she handled not only our race here in downtown Jackson, but just all of the other races as well.”
Other racers said these events are a great opportunity to experience Jackson in a new way, by running through it.
“It’s fun I loved running in downtown Jackson. I actually had never been on that military bike trail by the prison there, so that was really neat," said Simon Reidsma, who was the first of the 5K runners to cross the finish line.
He said it's great to see other people from Jackson running in the city too.
"I just love seeing people run in the city and I want to support that. It's fun to race," he said.
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