New Twist for Virtual McLaren Brooksie Way Half Marathon

With large gatherings prohibited in Michigan because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the McLaren Brooksie Way Half Marathon is going virtual for 2020. (Oakland County photo)

The 13th running of the McLaren Brooksie Way Half Marathon, 10k and 5k races is just around the corner and this year it comes with the twist.

You pick your favorite course, the day and if you’re not a morning person, no more getting up early on a Sunday morning for the race — at least this year. State and local directives prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic prohibit large gatherings and the Brooksie — which normally draws at many as 6,000 runner and walkers — certainly qualifies as a large gathering.

“Since it began 13 years ago, the McLaren Brooksie Way has been one of the most popular fall half marathons in Michigan,” Race Director Deb Flynn said. “The pandemic has forced us to change the race this year and we understand as the health and safety of our participants, volunteers and spectators is always our top priority.”

This year’s version of the race, which includes a half marathon, 10k, 5k and Lil’ Brooksie Fun Run, will be contested virtually. Runners and walkers may complete their chosen race anytime and anywhere within two weeks of Sept. 27 when the race was to begin at the Meadow Brook Amphitheatre on the grounds of Oakland University and wind through Rochester and Rochester Hills before returning to OU.

“I know there are many dedicated runners, walkers, families and even spectators who look forward to the Brooksie Way each year,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said. “The pandemic has changed our routines and many of the events and celebrations we normally enjoy have been cancelled, delayed or altered. We are fortunate that Brooksie Way organizers have found a healthy, safe way for us to participate in the race. I encourage everyone to pick their favorite route, make sure the weather is nice and enjoy a healthy run or walk with family or friends.”

The Brooksie Way was created by longtime Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson in memory of his son Brooks Stuart Patterson, who died in 2007 after a snowmobiling accident. The elder Patterson died in 2019.

As in past years, race participants will receive finisher medals, runner bibs and race shirts, which will be available race week or will be mailed after the race. Runners and walkers who have participated in a Brooksie race since the beginning will receive special recognition on their race bibs. There is also a team challenge, where teams compete against other teams. There is no team fee this year.

New this year, there are a limited number of free registrations offered for front-line medical workers and first responders who helped fight the pandemic. Those interested should email Flynn at

Register and/or share our posts on Facebook and be entered to win free Brooksie merchandise and entries into the 2021 McLaren Brooksie Way. Two winners every week between now and race week.

For complete information about the races or to register, go to

McLaren Health Care is back as title sponsor. The 10K and 5K races are sponsored by Genisys Credit Union. Kroger is Front Line Worker sponsor; Oakland Community College is the Mile Marker sponsor; Huntington Bank and Shelton Buick GMC are race supporters and Runnin’ Gear is the runner packet pick up location. Oakland University is host location, allowing Brooksie signage and banners to be displayed along Walton Boulevard during race week.