Madison Heights gets ready to ‘Run for the Health of It’

Annual 5K run/walk set for Red Oaks Nature Center on April 22

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published April 15, 2023

Shutterstock image


MADISON HEIGHTS — People of all fitness levels are welcome to participate in the annual Madison Heights “Run for the Health of It” 5K Run/Walk — a tradition that not only starts and ends in scenic Suarez Friendship Woods, but that also supports a good cause.

This year’s race takes place Saturday, April 22, beginning at 8 a.m. with registration starting at 7:15 a.m. The route starts and ends at the Red Oaks Nature Center, nestled away in the woods at 30300 Hales St. in Madison Heights, across from the Red Oaks Waterpark off 13 Mile Road west of Dequindre Road.

The cost is $35 prior to the event, and $40 the day of the event. Participants can register at

Runners and walkers can take the route at their own pace, following a path from the Red Oaks Nature Center through the Red Oaks Golf Course, passing the Active Adult Center and cutting through John Page Middle School into the subdivision, running into the parking lot at Simonds Elementary and returning to the Red Oaks Nature Center by way of the trail at Suarez Friendship Woods.

“I think for me and many others, the 5K really signifies spring and the change in the weather,” said Roslyn Grafstein, the mayor of Madison Heights. “It usually rains, but at the same time, it brings people out. It’s one of the first 5K (events) in the general area, and it’s also good for the school running teams — they’ll often run together. It’s just a nice opportunity for people to get out.”

It also supports recreational programming in the city of Madison Heights. Proceeds from the event help fund a scholarship program for low-income families, giving them a 25-50% discount on registration fees for programs through the Recreation Department.

Brooke Heisler, the recreation coordinator for Madison Heights and the race director for the 5K, said that the scholarship program has already helped five different families this year, defraying the cost of summer camp. The proceeds also help minimize or eliminate the cost for various one-day special events in the community.

“All types of people are welcome (to the 5K); we have walkers and runners alike,” Heisler said via email. She noted that the event, which has been a tradition in the community for over 20 years, typically draws between 100 and 200 participants, from kids as young as 7 to seniors 65 and older. “This is a race for you as an individual — it’s not a competition between runners.”

That being said, those feeling competitive can still push themselves in different awards categories by gender and age group.

The event itself is a collaboration between the city’s Recreation Department and Department of Public Services. It’s also made possible with permission from Oakland County and the Lamphere Public Schools to run on their properties.

Major sponsors include Rickey Busler, Madison Heights Chiropractic, MedPro Primary Care/MedPro Urgent Care, and Team Rehabilitation.

Behind the scenes, the 5K entails a great deal of planning to pull off. For Heisler and other staff at the Recreation Department, it’s planned alongside a robust lineup of other events, such as the “Park-It Nights” — outdoor movie screenings at Civic Center Park set for June 21 and Aug. 17. Planning is also underway for the Pre-Fourth of July Festival in the Park, also at Civic Center, set for June 25, and a citywide golf outing planned for Aug. 4.

“There is a lot of work that goes into coordinating an event like this 5K,” Heisler said. “You have to start planning months in advance and have your date ready to go a year in advance. There are so many moving parts involved, whether it’s getting special insurance, coordinating facility usage, sending out sponsor letters, and ordering shirts and trophies. It’s an all-hands-on-deck operation with many checklists. I try to have advertisements out as early as September the year before the race to get the word out to our residents.”

She said many people appreciate the 5K as not only an opportunity to reconnect with others and get some exercise and fresh air, but also as a way to see the community from a new perspective.

“The route is special in the fact that you get to see many aspects of the city in a way you might never have seen it before,” Heisler said. “I know this is something that many people in the community look forward to each year.”

For more information about the event or other recreational programming, call (248) 589-2294.