From the 2018 Visitors Guide & Community Profile created and produced by Harbor House Publishers, Inc.
"The Crim" is engrained into the Flint & Genesee culture. The August festival of races has evolved from a footrace in 1976 to a four-day international gathering. What began with Bobby Crim's desire to raise money for Special Olympics now attracts nearly 16,000 participants - plus community and family members who cheer along the streets.
"Each year, it continues to become more popular," says Andy Younger, race director for the Crim Fitness Foundation. "It quickly became one of the nation's most popular races and a must-do event for serious racers - professional and amateur. It's Flint's greatest opportunity to showcase our city each year."
It all began with a 10-mile race, which continues to be the biggest draw - attracting more than 10,000 participants annually. It welcomes people of all fitness levels by breaking down race results by age and offering separate running and walking categories.
"The walkers compete with each other, too," Younger says. "It's one of the fastest-growing categories and it's every bit as competitive as the runners."
What was going to be a one-time race has become the Crim Festival of Races. Originally expected to bring in runners and serve as a spectator sport locally, the race grew organically. Residents joined the run. The Crim is a community celebration, a destination for competitors from throughout the U.S. and more than eight other countries. It fills hotel rooms, restaurants and stores and is the anchor of many homecomings.
"As the downtown has grown and evolved, we've seen more and more people building other activities into the weekend around the Crim," Younger says. "People come earlier and stay longer."
While crossing the finish line is a great accomplishment - followed with beer and pizza - the culture of the Crim is also a part of the area's other active options, such as parks, picnics, sightseeing, kayaking and more. An exhibition hosts health and wellness vendors two days before the race begins.
"We are helping Genesee County and all of Michigan to be more active and healthier," Younger says, noting its programs in the schools and a summer-long training program that helps 1,700 locals stay active and prepare for the races.
The Crim is an anchor for active living in Flint & Genesee and beyond. And through its popularity, it has become a key part of the region's economic development, tourism and recreation story.
When it comes to recreation in Flint & Genesee, the options range from the great outdoors to pools, rinks and courts. The Genesee Recreation Area encompasses 4,450 acres of land which include Richfield Park and the 600-acre C.S. Mott Lake.
Genesee County Parks & Recreation Commission offers 1,000 programs, more than 80 percent of which are free. With 11,000 acres of woods, water, trails and beaches, the county provides many opportunities for year-round outdoor adventure - camping, fishing, hiking, biking, cycling, paddling off-roading and more. The Flint River watershed extends for 142 beautiful miles of streams, rivers and tributaries.
There are leagues, classes, paddle grounds and Michigan's only all-year ORV park. The Mounds provides 230 acres for motorcycles, dune buggies, four-wheel drive and all-terrain vehicles. There are also several designated areas for snowmobiling.
In addition to the county parks, golf courses and other places to play, the cities maintain and develop parks and trials. In Flint, the parks system was laid out by John Nolan to offer small parks and play lots within a five-to-eight-minute walk for all residents. Most recently, the city has added seven new playgrounds. More than 1,881 acres and 70 recreational facilities contribute to FLint's places to exercise and have fun.
Check it out
For more information on things to do, places to play, new projects and programming, go to geneseeparks.org or cityofflint.com.