- 13.1/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, 50K
- Trail Race
I can't say enough about how much I loved the whole experience of this race. My son and I were spending time up north while he did some summer camps at Michigan Tech, and we went backpacking in the Porcupine Mountains and Pictured Rock National Lakeshore. Luckily, the timing worked out to hit this race!
We splurged to stay at the race hotel--I've done enough events personally and professionally to fully appreciate the ease that comes with staying in the event hotel. I haven't stayed at a Holiday Inn in eons, and was pretty impressed! This one in particular is a beautiful log cabin style, and we had a balcony room overlooking Lake Superior. We opted to pick up some snacks and have dinner on our balcony given that we already had the best view in town. :-) The patio for the breakfast bar shares the same beautiful view.
I decided to give the "race expo" (at the hotel) 5 stars, which is a bit funny because they didn't really have an expo. That said, they did an incredible job of stocking the essentials--I packed pretty well for the race considering we had already been on the road for several weeks. However, I forgot any sort of race drink and they had Hammer tabs, so I was happy! I believe they had gels and running socks as well--specialty items that can be hard to find when you've pretty much driven to the ends of the earth to get to the race location. They also were giving away free copies of Trail Runner magazine, and those were fun to read given this was my first trail race!
The logistics of the race were great--I was able to take an early shuttle and my son followed on a later shuttle so he could get those all important extra minutes of sleep. ;-) The shuttles took us to boats and across to the island. We signed up in advance for my son to ride the spectator shuttle on the island as well, so he could follow me around. He did mention that the drivers didn't seem very well versed in where to go/timing, so he wound up arriving at the finish after I had already been through the chute. Even so, it's neat that they offer that service, and I'm sure they'll get the logistics ironed out in time.
They also seemed to do a nice job of staggering the start times for the different races so that we were all finishing together. It was quite something to get passed by someone doing the 50k like I was standing still--huge respect!
I gave the race two stars for elevation difficulty, though it doesn't really have much elevation. It does have difficulty, however, because a section of the race is on sand. I've done some sand running with no issues before, but the packed stretch also happened to be at an angle that really wrecked my legs for the rest of the race. I was woefully under-prepared for the uneven terrain.
Nevertheless, it was a beautiful run on a gorgeous island. It would be worth working up to doing the full marathon one day as the island is practically designed for a marathon--the marathon course circles the island on the beach. I can't imagine a more spectacular run!