5 Reasons to Run the Dune Dash

How awesome is this year’s Dune Dash poster?! Poster designed by Dale Crawford

It’s hard to believe that it is already mid-August. But you know what that means? Some of the year’s best races are quickly approaching. One of my summer favorites is the 4 Mile Dune Dash. The Dune Dash is the epitome of Leelanau County running. Here are five reasons why I’m excited to run the Dune Dash this year:

  1. Perhaps the most visited area of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is the famous Dune Climb. The Dune Dash starts and ends at the base of the Dune Climb. Therefore, participants can warm-up for the race by ascending the sandy hill and have a leisurely climb up after to enjoy the view. (Do ittttttttt)
  2. This race takes place on the smooth Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. Runners and walkers will be submerged into the deep forests of the National Lakeshore. And bonus: ALL proceeds from this race benefit the Heritage Trail. Keep updated on the happenings of this excellent trail system here.
  3. The Dune Dash organizers are giving away a Yeti Cooler this year. Be there or be square, because you know you need something to put your post-race beers in.
  4. This course is mostly FLAT. (I mean, there are a view slopes, but nothing worth mentioning). So bring your speed shoes – this is a fun race for going all out.
  5. This is a 4 Mile race. How many organized 4 milers exist? I can’t think of any others. This unique distance is fun because it is longer than a 5k, but still not too long where you need to spend the full day recovering. (Think, energy leftover for the Dune Climb after!)


This year’s Dune Dash takes place on August 18th at 9AM. Register here to participate in this awesome event.

5 Reasons the Glen Arbor Solstice Half Marathon is the Bee’s Knees

5 Reasons the Glen Arbor Solstice Half Marathon is the Bee's Knees - Run Leelanau
When you cross The Narrows, you’re in the homestretch. How’s that view for the final push?

Believe it or not, I do not currently have a race that is of significant distance on my calendar. However, I am very excited for the next race that is on my calendar: The Glen Arbor Solstice Half Marathon! This year, it falls on June 16th. Hands down, this is one of my favorite half marathons of all time (do I say that about all of them? Hmm…) Anywho, the following 5 reasons are why I.LOVE.THIS.RACE.

1) It starts and ends right in the middle of Glen Arbor

As in, you should probably get yourself a great glass of wine from Cherry Republic after the race. Or, if you’re a beer fiend like myself, check out their brand new brewery and tap room! Or, stop by Art’s Tavern for a burger and their huge selection of beers. Or…or…or…

2) It’s so incredibly beautiful

I know, I know. I say that about every race. I could be running through a sewer and think it’s beautiful simply because I’m running. But this one is for real. Runners tackle the circumference of Big Glen Lake. And yes, this includes the ascend of Inspiration Point. Come on, with a peak named Inspiration Point, you know it’s going to be good.

3) Hills! But not too many…

This race has a monster hill (see reference to Inspiration Point). It’s the kind of hill you can run up, but some mean power walkers may pass you (oh, just me?) There are a couple of other smaller hills as well, so you finish feeling accomplished but not dead. Perfect combo, right?

4) The Narrows

Towards the very end of the race, runners get to cross the iconic Narrows. Big Glen is on your right and Little Glen is on your left. And of course, The Sleeping Bear Dunes‘ famous Dune Climb waves at you majestically as you run by. This may be even more inspiring than Inspiration Point! As it’s in the last leg of the race, it’s the perfect boost to get you to the finish line.

5) Summer Solstice!

Obviously from the title, this race always falls near the summer solstice. It literally kicks off the beginning of the summer race season. What is better than celebrating the start of summer with a half marathon? NOTHING IS BETTER, DUH.

So do I have you convinced yet that this is the best half marathon ever? Thought so. I’ll be there, so join me! If the half marathon isn’t your favorite distance, they have a 5k option as well. Hope to see you there!

Spring Fever

You’re lying to my face if you tell me you don’t have just a little bit of spring fever right now. As a winter enthusiast, I greatly appreciate all four seasons in our beautiful mitten. Who doesn’t love the beauty of a fresh snow fall and the way it makes road running less impactful on our old knees and bodies? Plus, as someone who sweats more than the average person, the colder air definitely helps to tone down the perspiration.

However, on February 20th, we experienced a sunny, 57 degree day. It was glorious. And it was a great reminder of what it feels like to go outside without being in pain (winter winds are harsh!) and it got me just a wee bit excited for spring.

Not only is spring the beginning of warmer weather and fewer layers, but it is the unofficial start to the race season! A few races that I refuse to miss this spring and summer include:

Traverse City Trail Running Festival – April, 27-28, 2018. This race is a great weekend extravaganza! I’m running the 50k this year for my first ultra, but the 10k relay is so much fun!

Glen Arbor Solstice Half Marathon and 5k – June 16, 2018. Running up Inspiration Point is the perfect way to kick off summer, duhhh .

Friends of Fishtown 5k – July 21, 2018 – This is a great race! It starts and ends in the heart of Fishtown and the hills in between are sneaky challenging. Pro tip: Get a sandwich from the Village Cheese Shanty after.

Port Oneida Run – August 4, 2018. Choose between the 10k, 5k, and 4 mile race. The 10k is my distance of choice in this race. It is challenging, but takes you on the beach, through the woods, and all over Sleeping Bear’s beauty.

Spring Fever - Run Leelanau
Oooh summer races are coming!

The Dune Dash 4 Mile Race – Date still TBD, but last year it was held in mid-August. I love this race! It starts and ends at the famous Sleeping Bear Dune Climb. Check out my recap here.

Vineyard to Bay 15k – September 2, 2018. With a new distance this year! Historically it has been a 25k, 5k, and 25k relay. This is the first year that it is being run as a 15k. I can’t wait to see what the new course brings! My recap of the 25k can be found here.

Don’t fret, friends, spring is near. And pretty soon I’ll be complaining about running in the glaring sun and humidity, ha! What races do you plan to run this spring and summer? Are there any that I didn’t mention that I need to do?





Betsie Bay Frozen 5k

Betsie Bay Frozen 5k - Run Leelanau
Hoping for another FROZEN event this year

If you want to complete a race that will make you feel like a winter fanatic, look no further than the Betsie Bay Frozen 5k. This is hands down my favorite winter 5k. Only the hearty get out and race on the shores of Lake Michigan in the middle of February – and as it would turn out, there are a lot of hearty Northern Michigan runners.

Runners get shuttled from Frankfort’s Main Street to the top of Elberta’s scenic overlook. If you’re brave enough to turn your face toward the whipping winds of Lake Michigan, you’re in for a fantastic view. Runners then head down the hill and keep along the Betsie Bay, heading right back into Frankfort. Given that this race starts on a downhill and then is 100% flat after, it’s a great race to PR. Finishing fast is extra good in this scenario, because the shores of Lake Michigan are not particularly warm in February.

So I’ve discussed the awesomeness that is the actual race itself, however, the post-race giveaways are absolutely insane. The directors of the race do an incredible job of getting sponsors involved. The community completely backs this event and their support is very clear. Tremendous giveaways include gift cards to local establishments, baskets stocked full with useful and delicious items, as well as local attire that people actually want to wear.

If you’ve never done this race, I insist that you join me on Saturday, February 17th. Dress warm, make the mad dash through Elberta and Frankfort, then celebrate total winter badassery.


The Zombie Run: Why Themed Races are the Best

The Zombie Run: Why Themed Races are the Best - Run Leelanau
Look at my husband eating a banana in front of me. Cannibalism.

The 9th annual Zombie Run is quickly approaching. This 5k brings out some of the best costumes, make-up, and props I have ever seen. On the morning of this race, I usually get up extra early to don my best zombie make-up (please note I regularly fail at daily make-up, let alone zomb-ified make-up). As this race starts at 9AM, I cannot even imagine how early some people must get up to to put on their amazing costumes and make-up. Thank you to those that do, because you make this race so much fun.

As for me, I like to dress as various food items and zombify them. In years past, I’ve been a rotten banana, rotten tomato, and Mr. Potato Dead. My favorite costume from last year was 2 young ladies (I’m 85, I can use the term “young ladies”) dressed up as the twins from The Shining. Well done, ladies, well done.

The Zombie Run: Why Themed Races are the Best - Run Leelanau
Mr. Potato DEAD

Another item that is important to note is that this 5k starts and ends at Right Brain Brewery.

I’ve always been a fan of races that end at breweries. Ending a race at a brewery is the right thing to do and all race directors should take note.

Clearly I love Traverse City’s Zombie Run, but I’m a fan of all themed races in general. I think they are less intimidating, especially for new runners. Never completed a 5k before? Dress up and walk one. There are usually just as many walkers at themed races like the Zombie Run as there are runners. Themed races are traditionally less competitive; people are there for the show, lots of laughs, and comradery.

The Zombie Run: Why Themed Races are the Best - Run Leelanau
The year of the rotten tomato. My husband does not advise running a race in a mask, FYI

It is bittersweet that I will not be participating in this year’s Zombie Run. We are traveling north for the Great Turtle Half Marathon on Mackinac Island (watch for a race recap next week!) This is a race I have never done before, so I’m excited to check it out. But it still breaks my heart to be missing out on this year’s Zombie Run. So friends, take photos for me. I will be back next year, likely dressed as whatever food item I can get my hands on.



Sleeping Bear Marathon, Half Marathon, & 5k Race Preview

Sleeping Bear Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5k Race Preview - Run Leelanau
The 2016 Sleeping Bear Marathon Finisher’s Medal

Put your excited pants on: it’s race week. Saturday, October 7th, is the return of the Sleeping Bear Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5k. As I discussed in a previous post, I am not doing a fall marathon. But that just means I get to check out the half marathon this year. All three races are out and back courses. Last year, I did the marathon and the half follows the same route (obviously turning around at the 6.55-mile mark).

This course is perfect; it has all the things that make up a scenic race. Runners start in Empire and head towards Glen Arbor. For the majority of the half marathon and marathon, runners are on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. Almost immediately, you head into thick forestry. As this race is October 7th,  fall colors are starting to peak.  Half marathoners remain in the woods for almost the entire race.

After the half marathoners turn around, marathoners head past Little Glen Lake for picturesque views of its beautiful shades of blue. While Little Glen is showing off on the right, the famous Sleeping Bear Dunes Dune Climb stands in splendor to your left. Runners then veer off the trail onto M109. This is a steep climb, but you will pass the majestic DH Day Barn as you go. This historic building is so stunning that the hill becomes an afterthought. And just wait until you get to the top of that climb. Lake Michigan sprawls out as far as the eye can see. And marathoners get to soak it in as they coast down the back of that hill.

Sleeping Bear Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5k Race Preview - Run Leelanau
DH Day Barn, what a beaut!

Upon entering Glen Haven, runners take a right into DH Day Campground. After winding through the campground, it’s time to navigate through the portion of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail that sits at the bottom of Alligator Hill. Runners exit the trail and cruise the backstreets of Glen Arbor before turning around and completing the return 13.1. The route back varies just slightly, but it’s a pleasant variation that eliminates at least one hill.

I say, if you’re running 26.2 miles, you might as well do it in the most beautiful place in America. Hope to see you there full those race day jitters!


Harvest Stompede Race Preview

Harvest Stompede Race Preview - Run Leelanau
Super pumped to run through the vineyards that are full of grapes this full!

I have never completed the Harvest Stompede before, but I am very excited for it. The distance options include a 5k or 7-mile run. I signed up for the 7-mile run for only $34. That’s a steal! Rumor has it, over 900 people participated last year. How have I never run this race before?! (Reason 105 I’m excited about this race: I always feel left out when I can’t run a race and then see super cool pictures of it.)

The race is this Saturday, September 9th at 9:00AM. It starts at Ciccone Vineyard and continues on through the rolling hills of the vineyards. These vineyards are only accessible to the public on race day, so this is quite the opportunity. This race is just part of a full weekend event that celebrates the harvesting of grapes. A special wine tour takes place after the race (tickets sold separately).

As I’ve never done this race before, I don’t know much else about it! But I’d love if you guys joined me and learned all about it with me. You can’t go wrong with a fall race in Leelanau County.

Vineyard to Bay 25k Race Preview

Vineyard to Bay 25k Race Preview - Run Leelanau
The Vineyard to Bay 25k 2106 Finisher’s Medals

If you want a full tour of the east side of Leelanau County, the Vineyard to Bay 25k is the race for you. This 4th annual event takes place Sunday, August 27th. There are a few options for this race; runners can choose between a 5k, 25k Relay, or 25k as an individual. If this race is new to you, I strongly advise completing the entire 25k individually to get the full effect.

25k runners start at Brengman Brothers just off of Crain Hill Road. Bonus: Brengman Brothers opens their doors for runners to use their bathrooms. After leaving the driveway of the winery, runners take an immediate left onto Center Road. Then comes the lovely loooooong downhill onto Lakeview Hills Road.

Runners are then on the Leelanau Trail for quite some time. Eventually, you hop off the trail onto the open roadway again. Now comes the killer hill climb up Center Road to the crest of Hill Top Road. This hill may seem cruel but the view upon reaching the crest of Hill Top Road is totally worth it. Soak it in with deep breaths as your soar downhill past Suttons Bay Ciders and Willow Vineyard & Winery.

The bottom of the hill marks 15k. Runners completing the full 25k continue onto M22. If you are running the relay, this is the transition period. The second runner is then tagged in to complete the final 10k. The stretch on M22 is just over two miles long before entering Revold Road. You’re on Revold for just under one mile before entering onto the Leelanau Trail again. After 2.5 miles on the Leelanau Trail, you are in the heart of Suttons Bay and in the home stretch. Runners finish at Waterwheel Park.

See what I mean about the full tour of East Leelanau County? I’m tired from just writing that all out. It’s beautiful, it’s hilly, it’s hard, it’s worth your time.

The 5k starts at Hillside Feed & Supply. Runners head onto Revold Road from there, then hop onto the Leelanau Trail. The rest of the 5k course finishes with the 25k course.

You guys. This race is my favorite in Leelanau County. The finisher’s medals are truly works of art completed by Sporck Tileart. This race is bittersweet, though, as it is a farewell to the summer race season. Though, now I’m giddy for fall race season.

I’ve run the full 25k twice. This year my husband and I are doing the relay together. He can’t decide which leg of the race he wants to run, so I’m anxious with anticipation. Will I run 9.3 or 6.2 miles on Sunday? Only time will tell.

Catch you guys next week with my full recap of this year’s Vineyard to Bay 25k.



Run the Dune Dash With Us!

Come Run The Dune Dash With Us! - Run Leelanau
The Dune Climb will be waiting for you after the race.

August 19th is the 6th annual Dune Dash 4 Mile Run/Walk. We’ll be there with bells on and want you to come run it, too.

This 4-mile course starts at the bottom of the Dune Climb of The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Don’t fret, you do not actually have to ascend the Dune Climb. In fact, the entire course is flat and paved. Runners head out on The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail toward Glen Haven before turning around and coming back. As this is an out-and-back course, the finish line is also at the bottom of the Dune Climb.

This is a new race for Run Leelanau and we cannot wait to experience its glory. All proceeds benefit The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. The race starts promptly at 9AM. It is important to note that there is no on-site registration, as that conflicts with federal law. You can still register now or in person at packet pick-up the night before at The Filling Station. Pre-race pizza and beer? Count us in.

Check back here after the event for our full race recap!