The Michigan Adventure Race: Sleeping Bear Edition will be held September 17, 2016, in and around Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Glen Arbor, Mich. It offers participants a unique way to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary and a rare opportunity to race in a National Park/Lakeshore. Registration is open through September 14 at www.miadventurerace.com.
Teams of one, two or three will set out from The Leelanau School in Glen Arbor by running/hiking, biking and paddling to on- and off-trail checkpoints pre-marked on a map, collecting as many as they can within either five or ten hours. Racers find that they get just enough of a break to catch their breath, stopping to read the map, punch their scorecard at each checkpoint, and transition between running, biking and paddling.
The 5-hour race includes the opportunity to conquer five Amazing Race-like challenges, revealed just before the race. These require no special training; just a little brain and body power such as running into a woods to find and solve a few word puzzles or tossing and catching refreshing Lake Michigan water between teammates. Five-hour racers can use a mountain or road bike to get from one area to another. Rentals available. A short paddle section will be available as well but race organizers will provide the boats.
Those choosing the challenging 10-hour race must trek, bike and paddle to more difficult and distant checkpoint locations in place of the Amazing Race challenges. Ten-hour racers must have a mountain or cyclocross bike. Rentals available. Rental canoes and kayaks also available or racers can bring their own to save some money.
While adventure racing shares some elements of triathlons, the most striking difference is that adventure racers must figure out their own route from one checkpoint to another using a pre-marked map and cutting through woods often void of trails. A good sense of direction and teamwork are critical skills. Basic compass skills are helpful as well (a free clinic will be available on August 27 in Grand Rapids; an online version is on the race site in the Learn More section).
The charity partner is Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear whose mission is to preserve and interpret the rich heritage of historic structures and cultural landscapes of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Multiple Amazing Race-like challenges during the race will involve these historic structures or cultural practices of those who once lived here.