40 years later and still running: ‘I want to feel like I’m racing’

The 40th annual Fifth Third River Bank Run is Saturday, May 13, 2017

Veteran runner Tom Radamacher takes part in the Fifth Third River Bank Run.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The 40th annual Fifth Third River Bank Run is just days away, and this year, there will be 11 runners participating in the 25K who have run it every year.

Tom Rademacher is one of those runners who has never missed a race. For the last 15 years, he has had to drive up from Florida to make it in time. That’s because he spends his winters down south, where he trains for the River Bank Run every year.

“It is actually easier, except you don’t have the hills and you don’t have the different terrain… or the cold!” Rademacher said. “But I look for the cold down there!”

For Jim Gallagher, training couldn’t be more different. He moved to Marquette from Grand Rapids in 1989.

“You just put your little grippers on the bottom of your shoes and it’s really excellent winter running up here now,” he said. “You’re in the woods out on the land, not battling traffic.”

Gallagher met Frank Cashman in Dallas the year before that first run in 1978. Cashman co-founded the race with Marty Allen, and told Gallagher he should sign up.

“Just talking to Frank that day I got fired up, like, ‘Oh okay, I can run an extra two and a half miles from a half marathon,’” Gallagher said.

>>What you need to know: 40th River Bank Run

Rademacher will run with his daughter and other family members this year. He once ran the River Bank Run in one hour and 34 minutes. But now he worries less about time than he used to.

“Coincidentally, I’ve been saying this is my last year, but my family says, ‘No, no, no,’” Rademacher said. “I’ve always said if I can’t run even an hour slower than I used to run, I don’t want to run it just to finish; I want to feel like I’m racing. So I think I’m close to being done.”

Like many of the 11 men who have run the race every year, Gallagher is taking it one year at a time.

“To give a shout out to the other 10 guys because we’re all, let’s face it, we’re all getting up there a few years in age,” he said.