By Caroline Cook, Chief Running Ambassador

GR Running. It’s what I do every day, and I invite you all to join me. It’s a physical activity that you can only do in our great city of Grand Rapids. Run + learn + explore = GRunning.

It starts with serious respect for our fur trading forefathers who founded the village of Grand Rapids in 1826 and the Native Americans who preceeded them. It is interest in the first industries that steered the prosperity of our city. It is admiration for the earliest settlers who ALL came from somewhere else and indelibly etched the character of the neighborhoods. It is an understanding of the significance and impact of our Grand River. It is appreciation for the steeples, museums, sculpture, breweries, hospitals, businesses and architecture which stand today. It is awe at the sight of numerous cranes in the sky and new construction. It is the story of Grand Rapids; past, present and future. It is immense local pride and palpable excitement.

Grand Rapids Running Tours offers a variety of guided running or walking tours for a group or an individual. The tours are thematically oriented around specific downtown Grand Rapids landmarks and points of interest. I believe that the best way to see and experience Grand Rapids is on foot, at street level, accompanied by a savvy guide who can share history, trivia and fun facts about the people and places you encounter along the way…GRunning. The activity is usually about one hour in duration. Tours can be customized to accommodate any athletic ability, training regimen, cultural interest, or “event”.

The day before the Gazelle Girl 1/2 Marathon & 5K on April 17, Grand Rapids Running Tours will be hosting two shake-out runs. One of the biggest questions runners have as they prepare for race day is “should I run the day before the race?” The answer is yes. A run on the day before your race helps improve blood flow to the muscles, which allows them to loosen up and delivers the nutrients and oxygen they will need for the intense running the next day. For the 5K, being loose and flexible will help your stride feel more natural on race day. For the half marathon, running the day before will also help your muscles store extra glycogen, which will keep you running longer. Another benefit provided by running the day before a race is that it helps calm the nerves. And what better distraction than to GRun easy with fellow event participants!

Both of these 5k tours are free of charge to the first 50 Gazelle Girls (per tour) who register at as part of Gazelle Girl Weekend 2016. Here is a sneak preview. I simply can’t wait to see you soon!

See why Grand Rapids is hailed as one of America’s most creative cities! We’ll run through the city center in hunt of 25 significant artworks, including the 42-ton Alexander Calder sculpture that symbolizes the city’s innovative spirit. Also on the tour: two art museums, an art & design school and the headquarters of ArtPrize, a revolutionary art competition ranked as one of the world’s top five festivals by Time Magazine. You’ll find the run physically and artistically invigorating.

The number of organizations or causes that were founded or inspired by a woman or a group of women in Grand Rapids history, recent and long, is staggering. Most of these institutions continue to operate today and have touched the lives of countless citizens through the years. As a community, we are grateful for these women and their vision, leadership and incredible stamina. Grand Rapids is progressive in many ways, and the story of Lady Legends is just one more example. Would you believe we run by 17 noteworthy sights that feature women? And all of that in a tight, downtown 3.1 mile loop!