One day out: River Bank Run returns Saturday

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The elite athletes participating in this year’s Amway River Bank Run gathered at DeVos Place on Friday to speak about the upcoming race.

Six elite athletes are expected to participate in the 25K at the Amway River Bank Run on Saturday.

Many are returning to the race, including last year’s U.S. Championship winner, Betsy Saina.

“I know everybody when you win something or whenever you do great, you always feel like it’s a special place for you. So for me, I like coming here because doing the 25K is not like doing the marathons, I’m in between you’re doing it for fun but not pushing yourself really hard like the marathon,” she said. “It’s really fun to compete with everyone here.”

Handcyclist Steve Chapman said the River Bank Run was the first race he competed in, which sparked a love for racing.

“They created a monster, I think 11 or 12 years ago when I did this race, and now, I get to travel all over doing handcycle racing,” Chapman said.

All 5K, 10K and 25K participants could pick up their race packets at DeVos Place on Friday.

One racer said that she’s turned the race into a family affair.

“I’m running the 25k, but I signed up my mother and my two aunts for the 5k community walk,” Vana Kokkinos, a runner from Portage, said. “Today is actually my mother’s birthday, tomorrow is my parents’ anniversary and Sunday is Mother’s Day. So, I figured why not invite all the women in the family to participate.”

For others, it’s a step on the road to recovery.

“I had a heart attack almost a year ago, so this will be my first race after that. I’ve done the 5/3rd River Bank Run 25k quite a few times,” Kathy Hawkins, a comparator in the 5K, said.

“I’m a kidney transplant recipient, 7.5 years ago,” Heather Luchies, a 5K racer, said. “I am just running because I am able. I have this second chance at life and I want to stay healthy and keep my heart up with the amazing kidney that I have.”

More information about the races can be found at

Watch the Amway River Bank Run airing on WOOD TV8 and streaming on, with coverage starting at 7 a.m. Saturday.

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