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The Canal Run was started in 1975 and is the premier running event in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Following the rolling hills along the Portage Lake Shipping Canal, the Canal Run offers four distances for runners and walkers of all levels, including a half marathon, 10-mile run, 10-mile walk, five-mile run, five-mile walk and two-mile fun run/walk.
Bob Olson founded the run in 1975. Olson was an avid runner and owned WMPL radio at the time. For several years he ran the event with his family and a couple volunteers. For his tireless effort to make the Canal Run a premier event, the race committee named the 10-mile run the 10-Mile Bob Olson Memorial Run and started a scholarship following his death in early 2018. The well ran race continued to grow, and after a few years, Olson contacted Ken Seaton, president of D&N Bank, which signed on to sponsor and support the event. With the support of D&N Bank, the race continued to grow. In the early 2000s, UP Health System-Portage (2007) and Finlandia University (2010) signed on to help the event. The race has had as many as 850 participants.
In 2009 the race was expanded to include a five-mile option, a half marathon was added in 2013 and in 2018 a two-mile fun run/walk was added. Each of the sponsoring organizations commits to having employees volunteer. It takes more than 150 volunteers to make this event possible.
The race is self-sustaining, bringing in enough money in registration fees and sponsorships to cover all the costs. Since 2011, the organizing committee has been able to donate $10,000 to area non-profit organizations as part of its Canal Run Gives Back program.
Do you have more information on the race’s history? E-mail us the information you have at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have old photos, video or memorabilia, we’ll add it to our website!