This year's edition has been cancelled
Join Grand Island Trail Marathon
Just off the coast of this small city that looks out onto Lake Superior along Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, runners get a chance to run the trails, hills, beaches and forests of the Grand Island National Recreation Area at the Grand Island Trail Marathon & Half Marathon, which marks its annual running in July.
The race takes runners both along the shoreline and through the heart of the forest on 13,500-acre Grand Island, which lies about half a mile off the coast of Munising and is accessible only by ferry boat. Under the management of the National Park Service since 1990, when it was purchased by Congress from the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company, Grand Island has been kept in its primitive, natural state to protect its forests, coastline and beaches, so modern amenities are minimal on the island.
Such a unique and pristine environment for running has helped earn the race accolades for the beauty and challenge of its terrain from publications like Runner’s World, which has called it one of the country’s best trail races for runners who are new to trail racing. From a look at the half marathon route — which follows the southern portion of the 26.2-mile full marathon course — it’s not too hard to see why.
Course HighlightsThe 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 ascend up the eastern cliffs of the island which treat runners to views of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The northern half of the island features 300 ft colored Jacobsville sandstone cliffs and a gentle remote and exquisitely beautiful North Beach. The return trail on the island's western shore features remarkable vistas of Lake Superior. The 50K heads inland at mile 22 up to Echo Lake and beyond. This five mile section features relatively fast dirt forest roads. Runners in the 50K return to the Western Coastal Trail at mile 27. 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.
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