On Saturday, runners and walkers can imagine they're policemen trying to capture a suspect. The Kazoo Area Foot Chase is being put on by MI-COPS or Michigan Concerns of Police Survivors.
The race is patterned after a police foot chase of fleeing suspects. Mattawan police officer and event organizer David Ostrem says this is the event’s 11th year.
“We have a 3.5 mile adventure run, which is set up as a fun run, a simulated police foot chase," says Ostrem. "And people who like to run can join the event and what happens is, at the starting line they stand around and watch a simulated crime incident unfold. We have an audio recording that is played for the runners that gives the details of the crime that has occurred and the details of a police vehicle chase that is going on.”
The vehicle chase ends at Celery Flats, which is where the “suspects” take off on foot.
“We have volunteers who act as suspects that will take off running from the vehicle,” Ostrem says. “The vehicle chase ends in a foot chase, but the runners don’t get to chase them yet and they don’t know who they are because they only get a glimpse of them as they take off running. But each suspect is wearing a blue bandana.”
Ostrem jokes that the general public might want to avoid wearing blue bandanas to Celery Flats Saturday morning, or risk being seen as a suspect in the Kazoo Area Foot Chase.
Lorraine Caron: “It almost sounds like a combination of an obstacle course and a Mystery Theatre, because you said the runners just get a glimpse of the suspects before they take off.”
David Ostrem: “There is that challenge where you have to be observant and thoughtful. The course is unconventional. It runs through a variety of terrain and potential obstacles including fences, trails, parking lots, alleys, stairs, even buildings to run through. We change the course every year and we don’t publish it so runners don’t know where they are going. We try to mix it up so each year there is a different scenario to it.”
Ostrem can’t give too much away before Saturday’s race, but he is willing to give a clue or two.
“I believe there are going at least two places where a split rail fence needs to be crossed. There is another place where a metal gate and we don’t have control over whether it will be open or closed. If it’s closed you might have to climb over the gate. We try to have alternative routes if there is something challenging, so that people of all running capabilities can traverse this course. If you can run a 5K you should be able to run this course, even with all the obstacles involved.”
The event will benefit Michigan Concerns of Police Survivors, but Ostrem says it’s also an opportunity for area residents to get to know regional police officers.
“We wanted to have an opportunity for the public to come out and interact with us," he says. "Almost a community policing aspect where we want to partner closer with our communities and not just have them be frightened of us when they look in their rearview mirror and see us following them. We expect to have some vintage police cars out here on display this year, some police on horses and some canine units, maybe doing some demonstrations. It’s an opportunity for the public to see that we are real people too.”
The event is Saturday at Celery Flats in Portage.