Communities gear up for 24th Annual Iceman Cometh Challenge
For 24 years, the Bell's Beer Iceman Cometh Challenge has continually grown , and now brings people in from all over the world.
The race started in 1990 with only 35 people competing. Officials say they are expecting 5,300 racers this year.
"It's flabbergasting to see the excitement and energy of all the participants," said Iceman and Event Director, Steve Brown. "They just come out and they have such a riot and they're so amped up about it, it's really heartwarming too."
The race starts in the Village of Kalkaska and for 29 miles of dirt roads, two tracks, and paved roads, participants will make their way through the Pere Marquette State Forest before finally coming to a stop at the finish line at Timber Ridge Resort in Traverse City.
Nearly 12,000 racers, and spectators will be in the area, who all need places to sleep, eat, and shop. Brown says that five years ago, they calculated that the race brought in around $3.5 million in business for Traverse City and Kalkaska.
"As the event has kind of matured, people are making more of a holiday out of it," said Brown. "They come and they spend three or four days now instead of one or two."
Officials with the Village of Kalkaska say their population will more than double this weekend.
"We've had the start of the race here ever since it's inception," said Penny Hill, Village of Kalkaska Manager. "A lot of people had no idea that it was even going on until we had the start in our downtown and that had a big impact."
Hill says the restaurants, stores, and hotels all benefit from the large crowds that the race brings to town, but that it has also helped put Kalkaska on the map for it's great biking trails.
"The more people who visit Kalkaska for the race, the more we have come up and use the recreational trails throughout the rest of the year," said Director of the Kalkaska Downtown Development Authority, Cash Cook."
With all of these people, also comes some traffic congestion. Iceman races in the past have created traffic issues in the neighborhoods near the finish line. Race attendees are encouraged to park for free at Rasho Farm on Rasho Road in Grand Traverse County where they can walk next door to Courtade Elementary School for a shuttle bus to the start and finish lines. For more information on bus times, click here.
The Grand Traverse County Road Commission has also put up temporary "No-Parking" zone signs, to leave room for any emergency vehicles that could be in the area during the race.
Beginning Saturday, November 2, between the hours of 6am and 8pm the following areas cannot be used for parking:
Whitewater Township: Williamsburg Road, beginning 1630' south and continuing 600' on both sides of the road.
East Bay Township: East Hammond Road, between Haaland Road and Rasho Road on both side of the road. Haaland Road, west side of the road. Six Mile Road, between Roselawn Drive and Dogwood Drive on the west side of the road. Whispering Oaks Drive, north and west sides of the road. Dogwood Drive, north side of the road. Fielstra Drive, on both sides of the road.
Tickets will be issued to vehicles parking in these locations while the signs are in place.