Finished in 2:23:38 (official time); no new PR
Overall Place: 29/99
Overall Men: 22/48
Men 40-49: 6/9
Race #93 - Half #34
Overall there is one main reason to run this race - the course! It has an awesome variety to it. It's not super hilly but it's very technical and like nothing I've run before. The race did a great job overall with the race shirts, medals, organization. It was a short course but don't let that stop you from enjoying this incredible course. The area is awesome as well and it's a great vacation place to see the Tahquamenon Falls - something everyone should see at least once. Why not go and race while visiting?
Registration for Great Lakes Endurance races are very easy. You can sign up via their website which will get you registered through Active(dot)com.
I headed to packet pickup the day before the race which is your only option. Given the small size of the race, it would be nice to see packet pickup the morning of the race. I will say that these races are all in areas that you typically need to travel to (including the race director) so you would be up in the area the day of the race anyway. The race will allow other runners to pick up your packet too if you cannot get to pickup the day before.
I made my way to the U.P of Michigan and it was a glorious day out. For those that have not been to the U.P. (that's Upper Peninsula for you non-Michigan runners), it's a real running treat and a great place to visit. Everyone should experience going over the Mackinaw bridge.
|Newberry High School packet pickup|
|Race Director, his spouse and volunteer working packet pickup|
|Merrell is their sponsor|
|Course information and details|
|The race director and his wife working hard|
Note - I don't usually have a discussion about the race area, however, this is a fantastic vacation place and I wanted to highlight a few things.
I stayed at the Lower Falls State Park campground. For $31, you could not beat it.
|Lower Tahquamenon Falls|
|Lower falls taken my yours truly|
|My campsite at the State Park|
|A brewery? Yes I'll have a beer|
|Upper Tahquamenon Falls|
|Incredible - best waterfall I've seen outside Niagara Falls|
The next day the half marathon was not until 9am. It was nice that I didn't have to be up too early since I was only staying 4 miles from the start. The start was located at the Upper Falls. You don't run by the falls but it is very close and you could see them before or after the race if you wanted since it's just a short walk from the start area.
|Start area at the Upper Falls|
|All set up and ready for runners|
|Working on details|
|Race announcement before the race start|
|See what a little elbow grease and a bucket of water can do?|
|People in front of me|
|Runners behind me|
Note that most of the time I keep running my pace and just do the best I can with pictures. I did stop a couple places to take some pictures along the way because the views were just incredible and I wanted to make sure I had some great pictures. Mostly I just kept running so some appear blurry.
I really didn't have anything planned for time on this. This was just being used as a training run in preparation for the Grand Island Marathon so I pretty much kept to training pace. I will say that the elevation, while not hilly at all, is very deceiving. It was not the elevation that spent your energy. It was the technical terrain and it was relentless the majority of the time. I loved it!
|Map, elevation and splits - only 158 ft of elevation!|
|And we're off!|
|Run around a pond|
|A beautiful day for a trail race|
|Getting into the woods|
|Street crossing with volunteers|
|Deeper in the woods|
|Still numerous runners|
|Nice and wide here|
|Well marked for the half marathon|
|Getting to the ferns|
|Trust me - there is a trail there somewhere|
|The beaver dam was incredible!|
|The dam made for muddy wet shoes|
|A little climbing|
|Back to the ferns|
|Blue flags for us to follow|
|Grueling technical most of the way through|
|A little relief|
|The beauty was awesome!|
|More wet areas|
|Back by the lake|
|Short and steep|
|The variety of the trail was wonderful|
|Ferns, ferns, ferns|
|I'm ON the trail - seriously!|
|Grassy area and wet|
|Back to the hard woods|
|Mile 10 with a drop off to your right|
|Wet area again|
|The road less taken|
|The biggest tree root I've ever seen|
|Lots of mud|
|50k/marathon and half markings|
|Back to the ponds|
There was only one aid station on the course for the half marathon. All runners were required to carry their own water bottle which I do anyway. It's one of the races environmentally friendly items and I applaud them for doing this. There is nothing worse than seeing empty cups on the trails. I stopped and had a gel and filled up my water bottle while talking to the volunteers. The mosquitos seemed pretty bad in this area. I'm glad I only stopped for a minute to get my gel down because they might have carried me away! Haha! Even a couple volunteers had on mesh screens to keep them off. The volunteers were friendly and helpful.
The finish area was the same as the start area for the half marathon. If you ran the full marathon or the 50k, you were bussed out to the starting line. The area was well organized and they had given you a print out of your time right when you finished.
|After race food|
|Age Group awards|
For your entry, you received a marked course with a timed race bib. The race bibs were recycled at the end of the race so I just took a picture because I gave it back.
|Bibs were recycled|
|Cool car sticker|
|Technical shirt front|
|Technical shirt back|
|Medal(Wood) with ribbon|
|Front - Back|
The organization was good overall. The race kept you informed of any changes via their Facebook page. You received an email with good instructions. Packet pickup was easy to find and was well organized. The start/finish area was well planned and everyone knew where to go. The course was short, which is disappointing, and I'd like to see them adjust it somehow to get at least to 13.1. I will say that had the race director not told us it was short, I would have just assumed that my Garmin was off being in the woods.
Overall, regardless of the short distance, I would come back just for one reason alone - the fantastic course! It was an absolutely incredible trail like no other I've run and with so much variety that this race is worth running. There were several parts of the course where my jaw just dropped from the beauty. I loved that the course was technically tough but don't let that scare you. This is a very runnable course and a great one to try and the half distance does not kill you. Ha. The full or 50k - wow, I'm in awe of those runners running this course.
We had nice weather, even if a bit too warm, but that can be expected in late June, even in the U.P. The area of Tahquamenon Falls is gorgeous and worth the trip. If you are from Michigan and have never been here, the race is a great excuse to come up and enjoy the area. For those out of State (and even those in Michigan), I suggest staying a week and traveling to several places in the Upper Peninsula. It's a perfect family vacation. It's like no area in Michigan. If you like trails, you will love the half course. I sure did.
|Another successful half marathon finish|
|No better finish|
Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!
Disclosure: I received a discounted race entry in exchange for a race review. All opinions are my own and I was not required to say anything other than an honest opinion.