Sunday, August 8, 2010

Grand Island Trail Marathon Munising, Michigan

Christine Crawford's Race Report...

This is the 4th time I’ve run the marathon.  The event has an ultra feel to it.  I did run an extra 3 miles for a cool down so I can qualify this report as an ultra report. I ran with my friend Becky Kasten from IL for the first nine miles. Runners are required to start with some sort of hydration system since cups are not used during the event.  Heed, water and hammer gel are available beginning at mile 16 and they urge you to consume the gels at the aid stations to avoid littering or tempting any of the bears living on the island.  Scat sightings are more common than bear sightings but they are there.  This one caught me after the run.

The longest distance between aid stations is six miles and even I was running low on water.  The charm of the whole event is the ferry ride to and from the island and the fact that you can cross the finish line and dive right into Lake Superior.  I have to take credit for starting that tradition after the inaugural event in 2005.  My shoes were muddy and my legs were tired so I jumped right in.  If you wanted to, you could  paddle or even swim over to the island and run the marathon!  I included the course description from the website.  Families are welcome but must purchase their own ferry tickets.  Buses shuttle runners to and from several locations to the ferry landing.  Munising is a great little town with plenty to do.  If you want to run it next year, let me know and we can hook up with my IL friends and make it a road trip.  The event fills quickly.

The course follows the perimeter trail of the island counterclockwise up past Murray Bay and Duck Lake.  At three miles the course heads eastward into the Tombolo, up into the island's thumb and then back along Trout Bay where runners can enjoy one of the most spectacular stretches of shoreline anywhere in the Great Lakes. Runners then head up the eastern shore of the island which treats runners to views of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The northern half of the island features 300ft colored Jacobsville sandstone cliffs and the remote and exotic North Beach.   The return trail on the island’s western shore features remarkable vistas of Lake Superior. Much of the trail is shaded by lush hardwood forests.  Exposed sections (atop cliffs) blanket runners with cool breezes off of Lake Superior. Trail includes single track, two track, and narrow dirt roads. The trail is primarily non-technical.

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