DARKE COUNTY — Since beginning in 2007 with a couple stopwatches and a pad of paper, Rocketship Sports Management has grown to include races in multiple states that attract thousands of participants from across the world.
The nonprofit organization, which Roger Bowersock leads from his home in Greenville, is widely known for the Tour de Donut and now is expanding to include a marathon around Grand Lake St. Marys.
“It’s fascinating to sit back and watch how this whole thing develops I guess into a very respected group of people,” Bowersock said. “We’re not doing this to make money. We do this because we love to do this so our races are very different because of that.”
Registration for the eighth annual Tour de Donut will open at midnight on Wednesday, continuing its tradition of opening registration on Jan. 1 each year.
Last year’s Tour de Donut drew more than 1,600 bicyclists from 20 states and five countries to Darke County. The race from downtown Arcanum and through Darke County had 750 dozen doughnuts for riders to consume.
Next year’s race will include a new 64-mile course in addition to the previous 32-mile, 15-mile and kids races of the Tour de Donut.
“It’s going to be interesting this year,” Bowersock said. “We’re adding a 64-mile loop, which should have a big effect on attendance. A lot of people, as far as the serious cyclists, a 30-mile ride, no matter how fun it is, is not a big enough event to travel and do.”
Rocketship Sports Management doesn’t have to do much marketing of the race because of its popularity and how stories of the race spread, Bowersock said, and riders already are eagerly anticipating the next installment.
“It’s kind of become this crazy thing that so many people know about,” Bowersock said.
The race makes stops at Bear’s Mill and Franklin Monroe schools in addition to its base in downtown Arcanum.
“We love being in Arcanum with that,” Bowersock said. “The cooperation we have with the mayor, the business association, the school,, it’s like nothing else we deal with. They let us put on the event we want to put on.”
The newest race for Rocketship Sports Management will be the Grand Lake Marathon around Grand Lake St. Marys in Mercer and Auglaize counties. The race, which will be held on Sept. 27 and will begin in Celina, already has 75 runners registered.
The marathon will be a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. It also will include a half marathon, 10K, 5K and kids race.
“It should be a really big boom to tourism around the lake,” Bowersock said. “They don’t have a large athletic event around the lake.”
The marathon concept is something that Bowersock considered for years and came to fruition this year after he accidentally announced it. The idea caused a buzz and now is scheduled to join Rocketship Sports Management’s schedule.
“It’s something we talked about doing for a few years,” Bowersock said. “It just worked out that this is the year we’re ready to do it.”
While it’s hard to know how many people will show up for the marathon, Bowersock has high hopes as it’s a new event for the area and different from most marathons with its rural route along the lake.
“It’s definitely a unique situation with it being an event that’s not in an urban area,” he said. “A lot of marathons take place in urban areas.”
Rocketship Sports Management is working with officials to organize the marathon and plans to close roads for the runners.
“It’s going to be so weird to be able to have the roads closed,” Bowersock said. “It’s an amazing work of cooperation by so many groups to have this happen. It’s going to be awesome.”
Having rode his bike around the lake many times, the course really appeals to him, Bowersock said, and he hopes others are excited, too.
“Hopefully we can show off the Grand Lake region to others who have maybe never been here before,” Bowersock said.
Rocketship Sports Management did cancel its bike race around Grand Lake St. Marys because of road construction in Celina and has moved its Donut Dash 5K from Celina to June 28 at Island Metro Park in Dayton.
The group’s next race is the Frosty Cheeks 5K on Feb. 15 at Wright State University. The race will have three donation stations where runners can shed clothes while running to donate to charity.
Rocketship Sports Management has gained national attention since forming in 2007 and has grown to be a respected race organization, Bowersock said. The Greenville-based organization is still looking for ways to grow even more and provide participants with more fun races.
“It’s a pretty hectic, crazy schedule doing all these races that we put on or help other people put on or loan equipment to,” Bowersock said. “This is a hobby for us. We don’t get paid to do it.”
For more information on and registration for Rocketship Sports Management’s races, visit its website at www.rocketshipsports.com.