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!



Never Miss A Monday

Never Miss A Monday - Run Leelanau
Sunrise in Suttons Bay

Never miss a Monday. At least, that’s what I’ve heard. Mondays set the tone for the week; it’s a chance for a fresh start. For me, running clears my head and helps me feel prepared for the coming week.

Running helps me feel more focused and makes me feel like I am starting the week off on the right foot (pun totally intended). I like waking up before the rest of the world and accomplishing something before my ‘day’ even starts. Life can be so fast-paced that running reminds me to breathe and take it all in stride. Plus, if the day becomes completely catastrophic, I can always reflect on my morning run and feel at peace with that accomplishment.

I’m grateful for the time I spend running. Heck, I’m even grateful for Mondays. Cheers to a great week in this chaotic world.

Where will you be running today?




Welcome to Run Leelanau. This site is designed to share the beauty of Leelanau County the way it is meant to be explored: on foot. This region offers year-round explorations, scenic races, and a new adventure every season. Join us as we run the dunes, beaches, trails, and back roads.

Run Leelanau

Run Leelanau is a strong advocate for youth engagement within our community. 5% of all Run Leelenau proceeds are donated directly back to our local chapter of Girls on the Run.