Five Years of the Brooksie Way

The Brooksie Way Half Marathon

 sponsored by HealthPlus is now in its fifth year, a landmark year in the world of road racing according to Race Director Deb Kiertzner.
Initially conceived by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson as a quality of life effort to get people active and raise awareness for wellness and fitness in the county, The Brooksie Way took on a whole new depth of meaning following the tragic death of Patterson’s son in a snowmobile accident. “This [event] is very near and dear to [Patterson’s] heart,” says Phil Bertolini, deputy Oakland County executive and chief information officer.
The Brooksie Way races take place Sept. 30 at the Meadow Brook Music Festival on the campus of Oakland University. The first race begins at 8 a.m. The after-party follows at the Music Festival where awards will be presented and participants will enjoy live music from rock band Voodoo Honey and food from several vendors. The half marathon runs through Rochester and Rochester Hills and includes parts of the Paint Creek and Clinton River trails.
Desiree Davila, a Rochester Hills woman and marathoner who ran in the London Olympics for the United States and owns the fastest time ever for a U.S. woman in the Boston Marathon, will participate in The Brooksie Way.
More information and registration is available at
Online registration closes Sept. 26, but runners can register in person at The Brooksie Way Fitness Expo at the OU Recreation Center Sept. 28 and 29. There is an all-you-can-eat pasta party at the Expo on Sept. 29 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The cost for adults is $10 and $5 for children under 10.
The Brooksie Way – named in honor of Brooks Stuart Patterson – is now one of the largest events of its kind in the Midwest. Since its launch in 2008 the race has been larger than even Patterson expected, drawing in over 5,500 runners and walkers last year alone with an anticipated 6,000 this year (not to mention another 400 volunteers). “We know it will continue to grow over time,” Bertolini notes. “It’s good for the county and it’s good for the residents.”
The Brooksie Way is a series of races. There is a 13.1 mile half marathon, a traditional 5k, and a one-mile “fun run.” Runners or walkers choose a race based on their physical abilities, making this an event open to anyone regardless of ability.
Kiertzner says that each year they try to keep the event fresh so it will continue to be a draw across the region and this year is no different. The 2012 Brooksie Way is extremely tech-savvy, utilizing some state-of-the-art technology to enhance the overall experience for the runners that are typically only seen at massive marathons in cities like Boston and Chicago.
First there is the “chip in the bib,” an electronic sensor embedded into the participant’s “bib” (the number worn on their chest) that will automatically record when the racer crosses the finish line. (Chips are often used in races like this but are typically tied to runners’ shoes.) The bib will also have a QR code on it, so as soon as the racer crosses the finish line he or she can scan the QR code with a smart phone and immediately receive their individual race time data.
Also new this year is Xact Finisher Messaging, an option participants can select in advance that will send an immediate message to friends and family via email, text, Facebook or Twitter, informing them the participant has completed the race. And just so things don’t get too boring during those long 13 miles, there will be live music stationed at approximately every mile on the course, from rock bands to bagpipers to drum lines.
“Every kind of music genre you can think of will be on the course,” Kiertzner promises.
But The Brooksie Way is about more than just physical fitness. An equally important component of Patterson’s vision supports fitness and wellness efforts within the community, and so the proceeds from the races all go to The Brooksie Way Minigrant program.
Minigrants of up to $2,000 provides funding and assistance to programs that promote wellness and fitness throughout the county, anything from senior citizens’ activities programs to health programs and kids’ events. Since 2008, more than $80,000 has been awarded to community programs throughout the county. The minigrant is awarded three times per year.