Finished in 5:33:58 (official time); no new PR
Overall Place: 115/175
Overall Men: 96/110
Men 40-49: unknown - I'm not listed in the AG listing
Race #95 - Marathon #7
This race was a personal worst when it comes to marathon times but it was an incredible course. Don't let my time fool you. This is a very runnable course. The winner came in under 3 hours so most of the course you can run fast - really fast! It's not an extremely technical course which makes it easier even given a few larger hills. The area is really fun and it makes for a great weekend away. If you have not run this race yet, it's something you need to put on your list. This is race #3 in Michigan for Great Lake Endurance (with Tahqua Trail and Porcupine Mountains still to follow) and once again, I am extremely impressed with the locations and courses they have chosen for their races.
Registration is very simple via the Great Lakes Endurance website. Sign up is through Active(dot)com and really easy.
For this race, I went up to Northern Michigan with my running buddies, Kevin and Dave. We were all signed up for the marathon. We picked up our packets on Friday evening at the local Holiday Inn Express in Munising.
|Holiday Inn Express packet pickup|
|Our friend Susan everywhere!|
As I mentioned, we started our day on Friday morning to make the seven hour drive to the area. The car was packed and we were ready to go camping for the weekend. An awesome camping and running weekend!
|Kevin, me and Dave|
|Rest stop in UP|
|Rest Stop on the water|
|Camping at Munising Tourist Park Campground|
|Nice night before the race|
|Dogpatch after the race|
|Sand Point Marsh|
|Another beautiful night|
|Pasties in the UP (chicken)|
|Upper Hand Brewery in the UP (made by Bell's Brewery)|
The morning of the race was a really early morning. We had to start running at 6am so we needed to be on the bus at 5:30am! Yikes, we ended up getting up at 4:30am to be ready for the race. Because of the storm, I only got about four hours of sleep. Ouch!
You can see the picture below shows a little light on Grand Island. The volunteers needed to be there at 5:10am to be ready for us runners and they were ready! There was also a 7am start option but since Kevin and I expected to be over 5 hours in the race, we opted for the early start.
|The sold light on Grand Island from our campsite|
|Dave H and Kevin on the boat over|
|Dave, me and Kevin before the start|
|Announcements before the race by the race director|
|Runners behind me|
The course is a loop around Grand Island with a small approx. four mile out and back. We started on the South end of the Island and went counter clockwise around the island.
|Course Map per Garmin|
While you can see that we encountered some hills on the course, it was not relentless hills but you sure had to give it your all when you got to mile 19. By that time, I was pretty tired and the hills were killing me by then.
|Elevation Gain per Garmin (over 1,494 ft)|
|A nice start but humid|
|Dirt roads to start|
|Kevin looking strong|
|Into the island|
|Signs we passed|
|A little wet from storm the night before|
|Out and back section|
|Heading up the hill!|
|To the beach|
|On the beach|
|Off the beach|
|Back to woods|
|Half or full?|
|Beautiful view from the trail|
|Drain to the lake|
|More views and cliffs|
|Stunning view (I went off course a little to get this shot - it was worth it)|
|More views on the trail|
|The marathon was worth the views|
|Back on trails|
|Near the beach|
|Great bridge view|
|More on the trail - wow!|
|One of the best on the trail|
|I'm seriously on the trail!|
|Where I just took the above picture|
|Great trail to finish|
|Stairs to the beach|
|Did I mention the views|
|Seen on the traln|
|Step by step|
|The views don't end|
|Next to water|
|More water on 2 track|
There were several aid stations. As with all of Great Lakes Endurance races, the volunteers had water and HEED to give us as well as Gels at a couple stops. You needed to carry a water bottle or hydration device and they would fill them up as you stopped. You also needed to carry any garbage that you used since we needed to keep everything off the island. You can see they had on mosquito masks in the beginning since they were standing still and needed to be covered.
|Volunteers were great|
The finish area had water, HEED, cherry juice(my favorite of the race) and bananas, pretzels and fig newtons. I had a couple fig newtons and cherry juice and walked around a little to get my legs to stay loose.
|Runners getting in line for the boat|
|Lots of runners|
For your race entry, you received a custom big with a timing tag. The race also included boat tickets to and from the island for runners and your family could buy tickets if they were not running. The entry also included the shuttle to your campground/hotel. For what was included, the value of the entry was really good in my opinion.
|Tech shirt front|
|Medal close up|
|Age Group award|
The organization of the race was excellent. Communication is clearly planned out on Great Lakes Endurance's website. They answered any questions you had a packet pickup. There was Facebook posts with any changes(which there were none) and the course was well marked so you didn't get lost. The shuttles were one time and you didn't need to wait for them. Registration is very simple via online. The start and finish area was well laid out and everything had a place that fit well to keep things in order.
Overall, this was a spectacular marathon and weekend. My buddies and I had a great time the entire weekend. The area is so fun and the camping was great. The race experience was one of my favorites and the course was one of the most beautiful that I've been on. While it seems a lot to drive over seven hours to get to the area and back, it was well worth the drive. If I had one suggestion, I would suggest taking off Monday as well so you can enjoy more of the area. I would have been happy to stay an extra day and do some more site seeing even though my legs were tired. My buddies even ran 10 miles on the North Country Trail the next day! I was not up for it the next day but wish I was as it sounded like they had a great time. I would highly recommend that if you have not run this course, that you put it on your list for a future year. You will be really happy you picked Great Lakes Endurance's Grand Island Marathon. Next up is the Tahqua 25k for them in two weeks. I hope to see you there!
|Kevin, me and Dave all finishers!|
|Back at the campsite|
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.