Phew! Now I know I mentioned in my race preview that the Sleeping Bear Marathon, Half Marathon, & 5k had some hills, but clearly I repressed some of them from last year. The first four miles seem almost like a steady incline. There are some rolling hills in there, but largely runners are ascending during this time.
This may seem terrifying for some, but just remember this is an out-and-back course. Every hill you go up, you get to come back down.
Now, huge thanks to the lady who gave me a tremendous laugh at mile five. We were finally going down a loooooong downhill. It’s a steep one, too. It certainly felt nice to be heading down for a bit. This lady commented out loud how great this downhill was. And then, reality hit her:
“OH NO. We’ll have to run back up this, won’t we?!”
I laughed. “Oh yeah,” I thought to myself.
It was a glorious day for a race (but isn’t everyday?) Yes, we got rained on. Yes, the wind blew our hats off. And yes, the hills gave us quite the challenge. But everyday that I get to head outside and run with a group of people who love the sport as much as I do is a great day. The trees that line the course were just starting to show their vibrant colors. The finish line is on the beach in Empire that showcase bluffs in every direction. I mean, come on.
The beauty of this course never fails to fill me up with tremendous joy and appreciation for this region. I will return to this race next year.
And don’t forget, every year the Empire Hops Festival takes place immediately following the race. If you didn’t know, drinking beer is my favorite post-race activity. Hope to see you all at both events next year. Cheers!