- Associated Press - Sunday, November 23, 2014

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Running a race parallels running a business. Essentials include a product, customers and a plan to get the two together.

Event planner Lisa Taylor, of Wellness Professionals, LLC, produces the annual Farmland 5K, this year on Dec. 6. Primarily a cross-country running event, the Farmland 5K also attracts pedaling enthusiasts with a biking component, the Traverse City Record-Eagle (https://bit.ly/1tlXVtm ) reports.

“To me, this is an entrepreneurial venture,” Taylor said.

Like any business, planning an athletic event involves a balance sheet. Income and expenses must fall into line. On the plus side, a running event takes in money from entry fees and sponsors. On the minus side are all the expenses: governmental permits, insurance, timing services, a medical director, course rental fees, food, sound system rental, signage, tent rental and souvenirs such as shirts or hats.

In addition to those expenses, Taylor chose to take charitable donations out of every entry fee and give $2 to the Michigan Land Use Institute and $2 to Norte! Youth Cycling.

The key to making an event generate a profit, or at least break even, is creativity. Something fun, something unique, something memorable, will attract participants. A shining example, Taylor said, is the Iceman Cometh Challenge, held for the 25th consecutive year last weekend. More than 5,000 bicyclists slogged their way through about 29 miles of backwoods trails from Kalkaska to Traverse City. The challenging course, the variable season, the brutal ambiance have helped the event draw riders - and entry fees - from near and far, year after year.

“My event is like a small-scale Iceman,” Taylor said.

She launched the Farmland 5K in 2012, when 212 people participated. The event drew 361 participants in 2013. Taylor hopes to hit 500 entries this year. Online registration ends Dec. 4 at events.bytepro.net/2014Farmland5K. She purposely set the race date in December to help deliver the message that running is something that can be done in any season. She chose the distance to make the event accessible to most everyone.

“You don’t have to be super fit to go 5K,” said.

Taylor worked eight years for Munson before breaking off on her own, doing personal health appraisals for the county and other entities. She started Wellness Professionals in 2000. She coaches cross-country and track at Traverse City Central High School.

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Information from: Traverse City Record-Eagle, https://www.record-eagle.com

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