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The Brooksie Way Celebrates its 10th Anniversary in 2017








Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson freely admits he didn’t know much about putting on a road race when he had the idea to hold a race in his son’s memory.
 
In fact, the county executive thought it was pretty much just lining up the runners up, fire a gun to start the race and get out of the way.
 
How things have changed. The race Patterson envisioned in 2008 to memorialize his son, Brooks Stuart Patterson, who died after a snowmobile accident, has grown to one of the largest and most anticipated half marathons in the state.
 
“I would never have believed how the race has grown and what an important part of the community it has become,” Patterson said. “Brooksie would have been proud.”
 
In 2017, when the race celebrates its 10th year, the half marathon, 10K, 5K and kid’s race are expected to draw as many as 7,000 runners and walkers to the campus of Oakland University on the last Sunday in September.
 
"The Brooksie Way weekend in September has become a big family weekend with all kinds of activities for families, both the parents and the kids," says race director Deb Flynn, who has been with the race since the beginning. "We have kids in diapers all the way up to 80-years-old. The kids' races encourage physical fitness from a very young age and also encourage participation in the Brooksie Way in the future."
 
Because the Brooksie Races are family-friendly events, they also cater to the little ones with special races designed just for kids. The Lil' Brooksie race is held the day before the flagship race, with about 400 kids crossing the same finish line that mom and dad will cross the next day. There is also a Toddler Trot and Diaper Dash, so kids of all ages can participate.
 
But The Brooksie, as its known, has become more than just a one-time one-and-done race. It has spawned a winter 5K race, various training programs to prepare neophyte runners and walkers to participate in all of the races and a philanthropic arm that has contributed nearly $200,000 in minigrants to various non-profit and community groups for health and fitness activities.
 
The Brooksie Way Chill at the Mills 5K is held Jan. 22 during the Fire and Ice Festival in downtown Rochester. More than 800 runners and walkers are expected for the fourth running of the event.
 
The Brooksie Way has also established itself in Oakland County communities through its philanthropic Brooksie Way minigrant program, which gives minigrants of up to $2,000 to Oakland County-based nonprofits, agencies and grassroots organizations offering health- and fitness-related programs. In 2017 the minigrant program will surpass $200,000 total give to various organizations, touching thousands of lives throughout Oakland County. The latest batch of minigrants will be distributed later this month.
 
As the half marathon reaches its 10-year milestone, Flynn says beside the large contingent of participants, she expects more than 10,000 spectators cheering on the runners and walkers throughout the course. Flynn promises there will be lots of special events and activities planned for the 10th anniversary, so keep an eye on their website and Facebook page
 
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