Contributor of the Year: Don Kern
By Art McCafferty - Contributor of the Year is the one Michigan Runner award that requires staff decisions. Our other MR honors are earned through success on the roads, trails or track during the year and based on a pre-announced points scale.
Normally, such decisions are made by editor Scott Sullivan or associate publisher Jennie McCafferty. But from time to time I venture an opinion on the subject — and this is one of them.
Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon race director Don Kern is one of my clients and, as such, I must give full disclosure here. I have worked with him in promoting his marathon and related events since they started. He has grown them with care and class.
Don’s most recent “cool adventure” (see http://www.cooladventures. net) resulted in a new Guinness World Record for running a marathon on each continent in the shortest amount of time. Michigan Runner and The Running Network helped sponsor the odyssey and have chronicled it on our Internet TV channels. This was Don’s third attempt at the record; as he finished his last race in Antarctica, we can only guess at how fulfilling the moment was for him.
The positive impact of Don’s adventures on the running public has been immense. His zest for our sport is contagious. One only has to note the growth of the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon in eight years. Those of you who have run it have likely hugged Don or shaken his hand as you crossed the finish line. By then, you’ve become familiar with his thoughtful and friendly pre-race emails and the quiet confidence they imbue.
The Michigan running community is fortunate to have Don in such a leadership role. While many of our event directors are amazingly talented, few have done the job with such passion and panache. During the 30-plus years I have been MR publisher, there have been others I would put in that category. Ed Kozloff, who is still creating and managing events for the Motor City Striders, is one. Ron Gunn, our first Michigan Runner of the Year who now creates running and walking adventures for hundreds of people each year, is another. Yet another is Randy Step, who with co-owner Steve Angerman has built Running Fit into an award-winning fitness company.
One wonders what goals are left for a man who has just about logged enough miles to circumnavigate the earth, and run more than 200 marathons which have taken him to 20-plus countries, all 50 states and all seven continents three times. Instead of wondering, click on his website to find out what’s next.
Don Kern, an amazing person and a very cool individual, is our Contributor of the Year. - M