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.

I Meant to go to the Gym Today


I meant to go to the gym today. My bag was packed and placed in my car.

I meant to go to the gym today, but then I spent 8 hours at work. The thought of doing anything else inside was too much to bear. After all that time in an air-conditioned building, I couldn’t bring myself to spend more time in a temperature controlled environment.

I meant to go to the gym today, but I zoomed home instead. Gym bag at my side, glaring at me with judgment. I thought about turning around,  my monthly gym bill weighing heavy on my mind. But with my windows down, I could feel the 80 degree weather and sunshine pouring in.

I meant to go to the gym today, but I traded the air conditioning in for the sun. I opted for nature therapy instead of a crowded room. I rode my bicycle to the beach. I swam Omena Bay and rode around the Omena Point. The fresh air and adrenaline brought energy that I wouldn’t have gotten inside. I live in the most beautiful place in America and this kind of weather is something we get three or four months per year. Trails, open roads, and clean water surround me. I would have been a fool to spend that time inside.

I meant to go to the gym today and I am so glad I did not.


A Summer without Goals

A Summer without Goals - Run Leelanau

Summer summer summer time! In my previous post, I mentioned that I didn’t have any races of significant distance on my radar. I’m signed up for many summer races, but have absolutely no goals set for these races. It’s liberating, thrilling, and terrifying all at the same time.

As a [fairly] competitive individual, I always have a time or distance goal set for specific races on my agenda. This summer, I do not. My plan is to run when I want, where I want, for how far I want, and at whatever pace I want. No pressure (Say whaaaaaaaaaat?) There will be days that I go fishing instead of running. Sometimes I’ll ride my bicycle to a brewery instead of running. Other days I’ll run 13.1 just because I want to. I’ve had a goal on my agenda for as long as I can remember. When I’m ready to set a goal again, I want to be eager to work for it. And I’m just not there right now. Right now, I don’t care if I run a 3 hour half marathon this Saturday. I don’t care if I walk, socialize, or do cartwheels down the hills (JK, I can’t do a cartwheel to save my life).

Knowing me, I’ll be itching to set an unreachable goal by July. However, I’m absolutely pumped to have such little pressure on myself for the summer. I need some balance and in order to achieve that, I’m going to take a break from my competitive side and run just for the sake of running again.

As an adult who works full-time, I can’t take an actual “summer vacation,” so this is going to be as close as I can get. A little less pushing, a little more relaxing. Happy summer 2018!

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?





Leelanau Trail Guide for Runners: Coming in 2018

Leelanau Trail Guide for Runners: Coming in 2018 - Run Leelanau
Each season makes the trails seem like a whole new place to explore

I own the book ‘Trails of M22.’ It details 40 different trails along M22 and makes me positively giddy. (PS You can pick up your own copy through the Leelanau Conservancy)

People frequently ask me about trails in Leelanau County. They like to know what are the best trails for running, hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, etc. People like to know the distance of each trail, whether they are good for winter running, if they have bathrooms at the trail head, and so many more questions that I fall short of answering.

In 2018, I will be putting together a Leelanau Trail Guide for Runners. You see, ‘Trails of M22’ is a great book for locating the trails, however, it leaves many questions unanswered. Believe it or not, I’m a planner; Type A personality to the max. So I need to know exactly what I’m getting myself into for a trail run.

As a runner, these are the things I want to know about a trail prior to running it:

  1. Is there a bathroom at the trail head?
  2. Is there a place for me to change into my running clothes?
  3. Is it well-marked or will I run in circles and get lost?
  4. What are the distance options of the trails?
  5. Is it hilly? Lots of roots to look out for?
  6. What are the highlights of the trail? Scenic overlook?
  7. Is this trail used year round?
  8. Can people hunt on this property?

Those are my questions, but I bet there are more out there from fellow runners.

I need some help from you fine folks!

What kind of information do you want to know about trails before you run them? I’m happy to do the brutal work of exploring each trail (cough cough), but let me know if there is something specific you need to know and I will fully investigate.

Feliz 2018 and happy running!


Vineyard to Bay 25k Race Recap

Vineyard to Bay 25k Race Recap - Run Leelanau
The beautiful rows of grapes at Brengman Brothers

It has happened. I printed my first lie. In my Vineyard to Bay 25k race preview, I excitedly told you guys that Brengman Brothers was open prior to the race for runners to use the bathrooms. This was not the case this year (Guys, I promise it was in years past). However, the port-a-potties were available and many runners took advantage of the dense woods nearby.

There, I got that lie off my chest. Now to get into the good stuff. The 4th annual Vineyard to Bay 25k was a tremendous success. It rained briefly prior to the start, but everything cleared up as runners took their place at the starting line. The day remained overcast and a little chilly, not traditional August weather but absolutely perfect for running. There was no one present to perform the National Anthem, so everyone endearingly sang it prior to starting.

Vineyard to Bay 25k Race Recap - Run Leelanau
Runners before the race at the start of the 25k

As I previously mentioned, my husband and I did the 25k relay this year. I was held in suspense all week as my husband decided between running the 15k or the 10k. He decided to run the 15k, which is the first leg of the relay. It is also the much hillier portion of the race. The exchange point took place halfway down Hilltop Road, directly after runners ascended some ridiculous hills.

The race finished at Waterwheel Park. Runners then gathered at the beach for fantastic post-race food including watermelon, dried cherries, and Stonehouse Bread with peanut butter. The awards ceremony took place at the beach as well and top age group finishers each got a bottle of Black Star Farms wine (best race award ever). After the awards were given out, an amazing raffle was held. Almost every runner went home with something. The raffle prizes included more bottles of wine, gift cards to Dick’s Pour House or the VI Grill, and so much more. My husband walked away with a Suttons Bay Bikes t-shirt and a gift card for a bicycle tune-up.

Vineyard to Bay 25k Race Recap - Run Leelanau
The 2017 medals are stunning!

This race has it all. It takes you past open water, through fields, up hills with stunning views of the bay, and onto the famous M22. It is well organized and stocked with great volunteers at aid stations. Oh, and the medals created by Sporck Tile Art are bomb, per usual. This may be my favorite race of the year (can anyone actually pick just one favorite race?!)

I’m already looking forward to the 5th annual Vineyard to Bay 25k. Hopefully you all will join us and support this great race. And now, we move onto fall racing season. What’s on your race calendar?

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.



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.

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!