RABER, Mich. – As thousands jogged or walked the better part of Labor Day across the Mackinac Bridge, hundreds strolled a 40-foot span that links the banks of the Gogomain River. After finishing the distance in minutes, walkers still had plenty of time left for Labor Day.
Monday was the 32nd-annual Gogomain Bridge Walk, billed as a kinder, if not gentler and smaller, alternative to its cousin the five-mile Mackinac Bridge Walk, which turned 64 this year.
Ray Peterson, one of the organizers of this year’s event, said that founders settled on a nondescript crossing over the Gogomain river just north of Raber to hold an alternative to “that walk” over the Straits.
“They were overwhelmed by the Mackinac Bridge Walk’s traffic and the crowds,” said Peterson. “God help you if the weather turns bad on the Straits. Trudging through five miles of wind and rain is nobody’s idea of fun.”
The inaugural walk in 1991 had four humans and three dogs. Monday’s saunter attracted more than 300 people and about 40 dogs.
As is per tradition during even years, this year’s walkers crossed the river from north to south, with an average traverse time of two minutes. One jogger clocked five seconds, an unofficial record. Everyone who registered for the event received a free certificate and an option to purchase commemorative t-shirts.
So if parking, crowds, and slogging five miles through problematic weather isn’t your idea of spending Labor Day, consider next year’s Gogomain Bridge Walk. It will be held Sept. 4, 2023, about ten miles east of Pickford on Gogomain Road. Look for the cars. Walkers line up 10 minutes before a noon start.
“Only 40 feet, with most of your Labor Day lunch left to enjoy,” Peterson pointed out.