Forty years ago, it started out as just a suggestion.
A pipe-dream, really.
“It was a time of urban renewal in downtown Grand Rapids,” said Marty Allen, who was the marketing director for Old Kent Bank when the race began in 1978. “Many new buildings were being built, and Dick Gillette (former chairman of Old Kent Bank) put me in charge with the task of figuring out a way to get people to come downtown.”
In early 1978, Allen says he was approached by a man named Frank Cashman who, at the time, was with the Grand Rapids Track Club.
Source : http://www.wzzm13.com/entertainment/events/river-bank-run/at-40-years-river-bank-run-still-running-strong/438428631