New Trail Races in Upper Michigan

December 30, 2019

Grand Island

Le Demi Grand Half Marathon & 10K

Another event on beautiful Grand Island in Lake Superior near Munising and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Le Demi Grand is hosted by Great Lakes Endurance.

“Runners arrive on Grand Island in the Fall after the tourists have left.  The deep blue and aqua green of Lake Superior frames the brilliant red and yellow of the island’s abundant maple and beach forests.  Half marathoners take the classic tour up past Murray Bay and into the dense Hemlock forest near Duck Lake.  The course then heads into the Tombolo and then out onto Trout Bay to a 1 mile wide beach, framed by amber sandstone cliffs, facing north to an infinite horizon.  A steady climb up into the heavily forested island interior is then rewarded with a 2 mile gradual descent on dirt roads to Mather Beach on the island’s west coast.  The last four miles hug the cliffs and shoreline of Lake Superior, before heading east to the finish at Williams Landing.  The 10K follows a new route, similar to the half, but without the Tombolo and Trout Bay Beach loop.  The 10K course splits from the half marathon traverse of the islands highlands and follows a dirt road down the spine of the island past the fabled wildflower fields and on to the finish at Williams Landing.”

If you’ve never seen fall colors in the U.P. they are a sight to behold!

The inaugural event takes place on September 20, 2020.

Rock River Canyon 50K & 27K

Located just south of Munising, Rock River Canyon is adding a 27K race this year and is also hosted by Great Lakes Endurance.

“The course begins at the Valley Spur Lodge south of Munising and follows a rarely followed section of the North Country Trail to AuTrain and then on to the Rock River Canyon Wilderness. Runners then turn back for an eastward retrace back to Valley Spur. Single track comprises 26 miles of the route while dirt forest road makes up the remaining 5. Runners who want to immerse themselves in the wild backcountry of the Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on Zen quality single track have now found their experience. With 4390 ft of elevation change over 31 miles runners will enjoy frequent but not overwhelming ascents and descents. I would describe it as highly runable and even a fast course for the experienced ultra runner. It’s moderate, non-technical terrain make it an ideal step up for the marathoner wishing to try their first ultra.”

This event takes place on May 24, 2020.

Great Lakes Endurance puts on high quality events and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is God’s Country, so be sure to get in on the fun!

The Willow 10 Mile & 20 Mile

December 10, 2017

Willow River Falls

There’s a brand spankin’ new trail race coming to the western edge of Wisconsin this spring: The Willow 10 Mile & 20 Mile!

Set in beautiful Willow River State Park near Hudson, WI, the race is a 10 mile loop course that tours the park. Yes, you’ll be running right past this gorgeous waterfall! It’s up to you whether you want to run one lap or two!

Registration opens on Dec 11, 2017 – so give yourself an early Christmas present and sign up!

Tuscobia Winter Ultra 2017 – Round 2

July 25, 2017

Tuscobia Winter Ultra hosts 80 and 160 mile options for runners, bikers and skiers in northern Wisconsin every year.

This year, 2017, you’ll get a second chance if you missed the January event – because the upcoming winter races will be held on December 29-31,  2017 instead of January 2018.

Check out the race website rather than Facebook for official news and updates.

Registration begins August 1 🙂

Run the Landmark Trail at Mille Lacs

August 10, 2016

Enjoy the fall colors as you run or walk through the woods at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park for the first annual Run the Landmark Trail 6K or 12K!

Run the Landmark is a wooded trail run that takes runners through Mille Lacs Kathio State Park and much of the National Historic Landmark district. There are two race options: a 6K or 12K. The “Dirty Dozen” 12K has some challenging hills during the middle part of the race. Terrain includes grass, gravel, and trail through the woods. The “Scenic Six” is primarily on grass with some gentle hills that would be perfect for trail running newbies. The race is sanctioned by USA Track and Field.

Proceeds from this event will go to the Children’s Shelter of Cebu, an orphanage in Cebu, Philippines that provides homes for orphaned, abandoned, and surrendered children.

Check the race website for FAQ’s about parking, park passes, and other race day particulars.

New Trail Races In Michigan

January 2, 2016

Great Lakes Endurance is adding a brand new event in Gaylord, MI this year; the Treetops Trifecta!

From RD Jeff Crumbaugh, “Working in collaboration with Treetops Resort in Gaylord, Michigan we have developed a new event titled the Treetops Trifecta.  It is a micro stage event with three races over two days.  The weekend begins with a 5K on Saturday morning on newly crafted single track through forests and fields on the resort’s Main Campus.  This is followed on Saturday afternoon by a 1K Hill Climb at the Treetops’ Alpine Ski Hill.  The hill climb is spectator friendly with a finish near the Legends on the Hill Restaurant.  The weekend concludes with a Half Marathon that starts on the resort’s North Campus and travels through a remarkable landscape that includes the Headwaters Conservancy lands and Treetops’ Project Nature.  The half marathon course features spectactular vistas of the Sturgeon River Valley.”

Gaylord is located in north central Lower Michigan.

For the Yoopers, there will also be a new addition to one of my all time favorite races. Grand Island will now include a 50K to it’s flagship Marathon race, as well as a half marathon! Here are a couple of shots that I took with a little point and shoot during the marathon several years ago. Yes, you run right past scenery like this all course long 🙂

Grand Island ShorelineGrand Island

Grand Island Hidden Beach PanoHidden Beach, Grand Island

The new 50K will feature all of the marathon course with the addition of a new 5 mile section inland to Echo Lake. This is a truly beautiful course that includes two beach runs as it circumnavigates the island. Nestled right next to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, this is a bucket list, destination race peeps!

Twelve Mile BeachTwelve Mile Beach, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National LakeshoreMiner’s Castle, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Great Lakes Endurance puts on high quality environmentally friendly events, so sign up before they fill! All of their 2016 races are now open for registration.

Trail Running Photography

December 17, 2015

Many of you probably know that I am not only a trail runner (known to do a few ultras as well as run around barefoot in the woods) – I am also an outdoor photographer. I occasionally shoot trail races – usually ultras – and even pull all-nighters myself trying to capture the action.

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Running under the Milky Way at Superior 100, 2014

Lots of time and energy goes into this: scouting locations before the races, lugging all my gear out to the location(s), shooting for HOURS, lugging everything back to the car, then transferring files from camera to computer, editing thousands of files, and uploading them to social media and/or my proofing gallery so runners can see, share, and buy their photos if they want to. A local 50K required 2 hours of scouting the day before the race, even though I knew that race course like the back of my hand. I needed to figure out the best spots to not only capture the action, but consider the background scenery, where to stand, which lenses to use, lighting for photography during different times of day when the runners will be going through a certain section, etc. which is a completely different game than just running the trail. On race day I spent another 9 hours of standing and shooting the race from a few different locations, about 5 miles of hiking and lugging a backpack, 2 cameras, a tripod and other gear, and 4 days of editing afterwards. For a 100 mile race later in the year, it was a 5 hour drive to get to the race, then an all day, all night, all day shoot (I was up for 42 hours straight), another 5 hours driving home, and several days of editing.

150912Finland Runner Northern Lights 71

Running under the Aurora Borealis aka Northern Lights

Western States, Hardrock, Hurt 100, Badwater – they can’t do this.

We’re lucky here in the Upper Midwest. We have some amazing trails and scenery with lots of amazing races to choose from. The people who participate in our game are warm, welcoming, and humble. Many outsiders underestimate our terrain; just because we aren’t at high altitude doesn’t mean it’s flat.


“The Drainpipe” at Superior 100

Pictures don’t do it justice – it’s steep enough that I was hanging on to a tree with one arm and shooting uphill with the other to capture the racers coming down.

The Superior 100 Mile in northeastern Minnesota has 41,000+ vertical feet of elevation gain/loss – more than Leadville. With drop dead gorgeous vistas that include waterfalls, lakes of all sizes (including the Great Lakes), northern forests, and some pretty interesting wildlife.

If you’d like to see some of the amazing places I’m referring to, feel free to stop by my North Woods Photos website and gallery. You can enter the gallery to view images or purchase prints from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, including the two night shots shown here 🙂

Need a photographer for a local trail race? Get in touch with me and we’ll see what we can work out.

Thanks for stopping by Upper Midwest Trail Races – Run On!


Lottery For Superior Trail Races

December 11, 2015
Superior Hiking Trail

Superior Hiking Trail

If you want to run one of the spring Superior 25K or 50K races or fall Superior 100 Mile, 50 Mile, or Moose Mountain Marathon – you’ll have to enter the lottery first!

Superior “Spring” Trail Race 50KM & 25KM, Lutsen MN
Saturday, May 21, 2016

The 12 day lottery registration / application period for the 2016 event will open on Sunday January 3rd, 2016 at 12:01 AM and will close on Thursday January 14th 2016 at 11:59PM. The lottery drawing will be held shortly thereafter with accepted registrations processed and the resulting start list published the week of January 18th, 2016

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not enter the lottery unless you fully intend to register for and run this race. Do not enter the lottery until you have familiarized yourself with all lottery rules and procedures on our website HERE…/

Superior “Fall” Trail Race 100MI, 50MI & 26.2MI, Lutsen MN
September 9 & 10, 2016

The 12 day lottery registration / application period for the 2016 event will open on Sunday February 28th, 2016 at 12:01 AM and will close on Thursday March 10th 2016 at 11:59PM. The lottery drawing will be held shortly thereafter with accepted registrations processed and the resulting start list published the week of March 14th, 2016

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not enter the lottery unless you fully intend to register for and run this race. Do not enter the lottery until you have familiarized yourself with all lottery rules and procedures on our website HERE

They’re awesome races that take place in one of the most beautiful places on Earth! Good luck to those who enter 🙂

Pleasant Creek 15K & 30K

August 11, 2015

There’s a brand spankin’ new trail race coming to Palo, Iowa this September and YOU’RE INVITED!

The first annual Pleasant Creek Trail Run will take place Saturday, Sept 19th, 2015 and will feature a 15K and 30K on an equestrian trail. Sounds like a loop course consisting primarily of dirt and grass trails with a few small water crossings possible. The course has rolling hills but should produce some fast times.

Capacity is set at 250 runners, so sign up now!

Swiss Valley Trail Run

June 4, 2015

Introducing the inaugural Swiss Valley Trail Run at Swiss Valley Nature Preserve in Peosta, Iowa!

This trail run will feature all the best of the Dubuque County landscape including creek crossings, steep inclines, and rugged terrain. The run will offer three distance options: 5.2 miles, 10.4 miles, and a 25K all set against the beautiful backdrop of Swiss Valley Nature Preserve.

All proceeds from the run will benefit the Friends of Dubuque County Conservation who help support Dubuque County parks and environmental education!

In addition to the other races we will be having a free kids fun run this year. The run will be a distance of 1 kilometer through part of the trail system giving the kids a chance to be a part of the creek stomping action along with the other racers.

The race takes place on Saturday October 3, 2015. Registration is open NOW!

Ultimate Direction Sale at Amazon

May 13, 2015

Just a quick temporary post – won’t let me post a working link to the Amazon sale page, so I wrote a post on my Personal Training blog and can link you to it here.

Amazon is having an Ultimate Direction sale on several models of their vests, bottles, waist packs, bladders, and more ’til the end of May! Up to 25% off selected models!

I haven’t tried their vests (I still love my old Nathan with a Camelbak bladder) and I’m not a fan of waist packs, but Ultimate Direction makes my favorite hand held water bottle – and it’s on sale! I’ve already got a few of these (nice to be able to leave them in drop bags during ultra-marathons), and they are extremely durable, have a wide mouth which makes them easy to fill (or add ice) and easy to clean. And there’s a little zipper compartment attached to the adjustable mesh strap that holds keys and maybe a few other small items (credit card, lip balm). Looks like the compartment is even bigger on these newer models (not really sure I want my cell phone attached to my hand held water bottle). I have the older model and am still using them after 8 years of regular abuse.

If you like Ultimate Direction products or have always wanted to try them – this is a great opportunity to pick up some gear at a discount!

Happy Trails 🙂