Dune Dash Recap

Dune Dash Recap - Run Leelanau
Runners start and finish at the beautiful Dune Climb of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

I’m a big fan of alliterations. Pair an alliteration with a race and I can’t resist. Saturday, August 29th was the 6th annual Dune Dash 4-Mile Run/Walk. The weather was absolutely perfect, as one would hope for a mid-August event. With more than 275 participants, it was the largest turnout yet for this event.

Runners start the Dune Dash with Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore‘s Dune Climb on their left. Immediately after crossing the starting line, runners head through a ‘pit’ of loose sand before entering The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. At this point, participants remain on the Heritage Trail for the duration of the race.

This race is advertised as ‘flat and fast’ and I even discussed this aspect of the race in a previous post. While I’d say it’s fair to say that 85% of this race is flat, there are some notable portions that are less than flat. It is not fair to call these “hills,” as that would be a disservice to the rolling, insane hills that make up much of Leelanau County. However, these slopes are significantly noticeable, especially when traveling at race pace. The challenge of these slopes is their length. These gradual inclines are so long in areas that you can’t see where they end. While these slopes are not hefty enough to incorporate into a hill workout, they certainly add a challenge to this ‘flat and fast’ race.

Much of this race is shaded from the hot August sun. Runners travel through the woods, past dunes, and through fields of flowing wheat. As 99% of this race is on the paved Heritage Trail, strollers are welcome. There is one water station located approximately at the one and three-mile mark. These enthusiastic volunteers were happy to throw water at sweaty runners upon request. I was running directly behind a group of high school boys and definitely received my fair-share of flying water.

The halfway (and turnaround) point is in Glen Haven, right on the cusp of the beach. Runners circle back and follow the exact path back to the finish line. I love out-and-back courses; there is so much comradery and encouragement between runners during those passing moments.


Dune Dash Recap - Run Leelanau
The age group medals from this year’s Dune Dash

There is a medal ceremony shortly after the race. There are awards for overall male and female winners and top three placements per age group. This year’s medal is a beautiful wood carving with a “sleeping bear” dune painted on.

This is a tremendous race and we’ll definitely be back next year. Oh, and special mention to the guy pushing a stroller who passed me effortlessly.

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