Brooksie Way goes virtual

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published September 8, 2020

 Runners compete during a past Brooksie Way event.

Runners compete during a past Brooksie Way event.

Photo provided by Deb Flynn


ROCHESTER HILLS — With many competitive races canceled this year due to COVID-19, many avid runners have been left in the dust.

Organizers of the 13th annual McLaren Brooksie Way, however, have found a creative solution, allowing runners to pick their favorite course, day and time to participate.

This year’s version of the race — which includes a half marathon, a 10K, a 5K and the Lil’ Brooksie Fun Run — will be contested virtually, according to Race Director Deb Flynn.

Flynn said the pandemic has forced organizers to change the race this year to keep the health and safety of participants, volunteers and spectators a priority.

“We typically bring about 10,000 people to the OU campus. With everything that’s going on with the COVID situation, No. 1, OU doesn’t allow groups of that size on campus and, No. 2, for social distancing, it would just be impossible,” Flynn said. “The virtual is for this year only, hopefully.”

The Brooksie Way was created 13 years ago by longtime Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson — who passed away in 2019 — in memory of his son Brooks Stuart Patterson, who died in 2007 after a snowmobiling accident.

Current Oakland County Executive David Coulter said he knows there are many dedicated runners, walkers, families and even spectators who look forward to the Brooksie Way each year.

“The pandemic has changed our routines, and many of the events and celebrations we normally enjoy have been canceled, delayed or altered. We are fortunate that Brooksie Way organizers have found a healthy, safe way for us to participate in the race. I encourage everyone to pick their favorite route, make sure the weather is nice and enjoy a healthy run or walk with family or friends,” Coulter said in a statement.

This year, runners and walkers may complete their chosen race anytime and anywhere within the two weeks prior to Sept. 27 — when the race was originally set to begin.

As in years past, Flynn said race participants will receive finisher medals, runner bibs and race shirts, which will be available on race week or mailed after the race. Runners and walkers who have participated in a Brooksie race since the beginning will receive special recognition on their race bibs. There is also a team challenge, where teams compete against other teams, without a team fee.

New this year, there are a limited number of free registrations offered for front-line medical workers and first responders who helped fight the pandemic. Those interested should email Flynn at

For complete information about the races or to register, go to