Finished in 3:11:55 (official time); new PR because I have not run this distance - first 25k
Overall Place: 47/76
Overall Men: 34/46
Men 40-49: 13/19
Race #97 - First 25k
This is the fourth race of five that I'm running with Great Lakes Endurance this year. The Tahqua 25k is a race everyone needs to run. I've officially put this at the top of my trail race experiences. The course is amazing and was one of the most fun and difficult to run. I love the 25k distance and the technical areas of this course. Tahquamenon Falls is an awesome area to visit and, if you like running trails, this is truly a gem. This is a "must-do" race. I went a little crazy on the pictures for this race but you will enjoy seeing that this is one you are not going to want to miss next year.
Registration is very simple and completed via Active(dot)com through the race website. All information about the race and logistics are on the website and very easy to use.
Packet pickup was from 3-9pm in Paradise on Friday evening at the Magnuson Grand Hotel. It's one of the nicer hotels in the area and I've stayed there before a few years back. As is typical for a race put on by Great Lakes Endurance, given the smaller size of the race, I was in and out very quickly.
|Hotel Packet pickup|
Before packet pickup, I went to the Tahquamenon Falls campground to check in as it was starting to sprinkle and I wanted to get my tent up without it raining. I'm glad I did since it did rain later on. We were very fortunate because it was supposed to rain all afternoon, night and during the race and it ended up only raining a little in the afternoon and at night. It turned out to be a perfect weekend to camp.
|I had site 22|
|Bathrooms across the site|
|Pre-race dinner with Sherri and Jeremy and others! (Photo by Han)|
|Group Picture after dinner - me, Han, Michel, Melissa, Josh, Sherri, Joel(Photo by Jeremy)|
|Post race Running Pictionary|
|Post race group picture|
Race morning was pretty early. We had to get on the bus for the 25k at 6:15am as the busses were leaving for the start line at 6:30am. I was up at 5am to get ready. The race was a point to point race so you had to either take a bus or get to the start line from someone driving you there.
|Busses to the start|
|Ramon walking to the start|
|1.1 mile walk to the start line|
|Port-o-Johns at the start|
|Runners ready to run|
|Pre race picture for Team Ignite! - Me, Melissa, Erinn, Ramon|
|Pre-race group picture - Han, Bob, Michel, me, Steve, Melissa, Josh, Joel|
|Jeff, race director, giving announcements|
|Runners in front of me|
|Runners behind me|
I had no pace plans except not to get hurt. This was my third trail race in three weeks with a marathon, half and now this 25k so I was just looking to enjoy myself and that's just what I did.
|Splits, map and elevation per Strava|
|Start on dirt road|
Soon we were turning into the trails! Yes, it looked beautiful starting out!
|Turn onto trail|
|Into single track|
|Almost looks groomed!|
|North Country! Josh running strong in front|
|Bog next to us|
|Fun parts to run|
|Lake next to us|
|Steve running hard on the North Country Trail|
|More ferns and pines - such a beautiful part of the trail|
|Drop off left of trail|
|Huge tree on trail|
|Stairs to campground|
|Portage Campground - where I was staying|
|Heading to the lower falls|
|Lower falls parking|
|To the falls|
|Lower Tahquamenon Falls|
|Heading back to the trail|
|Hills and roots|
|Lovely area - one of my favorite types of trails - pines and needles|
|Roots for stairs|
|Hills and stairs|
|Stairs - seeing the theme here?|
|Mile 11 stairs|
|Yes, more stairs|
|Cut out for tree|
|Dropoff to the left|
|River on the trail|
|Trees growing to the water|
|3 miles to the upper falls|
|Hard technical area|
|Stairs and boardwalk|
|I went up these!|
|North Country Trail|
There were several aid stations where volunteers were there to fill your water bottle with Heed or water. They were also checking your bib number to make sure all the runners got off the course safely. A great idea in the interest of the runners.
|I told everyone to smile!|
The finish area was at the upper falls near the parking lot. You finished, were able to get your time right away and then get some food that the race offered. I talked for a few minutes to the race organizers about how awesome this course was. I've been wanting to run this race for several years and, after running it, I wish I had come sooner. I've put this on my number one best trail course ever.
|A tired runner|
For your race entry, you received a marked course. You also received a race bib with race results immediately following the race. Transportation by bus was provided as well to the start line.
|Tech shirt front|
|Tech shirt back|
The race does a great job with their website and giving runners updates on Facebook when needed. They send a detailed memo with all the race details before the race which is really important as it has everything that the runners need to know in order to be ready for the race. The course was well marked. The finish and start lines are well planned - even this race, where it was unusual to walk to the start - and I think made it fun! The tahquamenon area is always an amazing place to vacation. A 25k is a nice distance as it does not kill you and you can still enjoy time with your family after the race or for the weekend. As I observe runners who are panicked sometimes, it is usually because they didn't read all the packet information, didn't make it to packet pickup, or didn't pay attention. Read the packet and ask questions at packet pickup and you are sure to have a great time at these races.
Overall, this goes down as my favorite trail course that I've run. The variety of the trail throughout the course was incredible. There were some easier parts in the beginning and some serious challenges at the end. I've never run a more technical course. I didn't feel this was a fully runnable course for me at the end but that really does not matter to me. I want to be able to find courses that I can enjoy the beauty of the area. Great Lakes Endurance has proven they know how to find fantastic trails and you can be assured that you will love every minute of the experience. This is a fantastic race to see the Tahquamenon Falls and trails in the area. The bottom line is this is a race that every trail runner will really enjoy - fast or slow, it will challenge everyone. If you need a reason to go to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, this would be a great one. Up next for me is the Porcupine Mountains Half Marathon in September also put on by Great Lakes Endurance. I cannot wait!
Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!
Disclosure: I received a discounted race entry in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own and I was not required to give a particular opinion other than an honest one.