Triathlon kicks off first year in Leelanau County
By Erin Crowell 6/15/09
There were a lot of words thrown around last week during the volunteer meeting for the inaugural M-22 Challenge. Words like sweet, cool, and right on. These words reflected the attitude of those in attendance, preparing for a race that will marry the beauty of Northern Michigan with the spirit of athleticism.
The M-22 Challenge will make its debut on Saturday, June 20. Located at the Little Glen Lake Picnic Area in Glen Arbor Township of Leelanau County, the event is named for its location along the scenic M-22 highway. It is also part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
The Challenge is in the same realm of a triathlon, in that it combines three disciplines into one event. However, instead of a traditional swim/bike/run format, Challenge participants run/bike/paddle their way to the finish line.
Presented by Broneah Kiteboarding and M-22 store creators/owners Matt and Keegan Myers, the Challenge comes from an idea the brothers had while working out at the gym.
Weve been thinking about it for awhile, said Matt Myers. We thought about workout circuits and bringing that concept outdoors. We also wanted to create something that would be more inviting to others, not just for kite boarders.
The non-traditional race starts with a two-mile run and a steep and sandy climb up the Sleeping Bear Dunes, overlooking Lake Michigan. From there, athletes run back down the dune to a groomed trail, reach highway M-109 and sprint back to the event site.
From there, they transition into a 17-mile bike ride around Big and Little Glen Lake, which takes them through downtown Glen Arbor, sections along the Crystal River and M-22 and Inspiration Point.
After the ride, pedals are traded for paddles as athletes take their kayak, canoe or standup paddle board out and back one mile on Little Glen Lake. Although fixed paddles are prohibited, athletes can use any self-propelled craft they can dream up.
Itll be interesting to see what people show up with, said Matt Myers Sr, the event coordinator for the M-22 Challenge.
Myers, who is the father of Matt and Keegan, worked several years organizing events for the Father Fred Foundation. The brothers said it was only natural for them to choose their father for the position. Dad knows everybodys grandmother and children, said Keegan.
Volunteers arent the only ones describing the race as sweet; the local community has repeatedly shown support for the race through money, gift and service donations.
People are really excited about it. So many have stepped up, said Matt Jr., People like Michael Reese of Traverse City. Hes really helped make the race happen with his contributions.
Local businesses like Oryana and Pure Water Works of Traverse City have donated fuel for athletes, including granola bars, Gatorade, water and fruit.
The Leelanau County Road Commission even volunteered to sweep the road for the bike portion the night before the race, said Myers.
During the volunteer meeting, sponsorship director Barbara Weber reported a list of businesses, local and national, who were already interested in supporting next years race.
Crystal River Outfitters of Glen Arbor will provide kayaks for participants who need one for the race. Athletes using their own boat or board will be allowed to drop off their equipment at the race site the night before the event. Volunteers will monitor the area from dusk until dawn. Chances are, at least one or two of those volunteers will be a Myers, says Matt Sr.
Well be up for a couple of days, he said. Not everyone will be keeping watch the night before, but all the volunteers are vital to the success of the race, Myers said. We especially want to thank our volunteers, said Matt Jr. We have about 50 volunteers right now, but were always looking for anyone interested in getting involved.
PACE OF THE RACE
Like traditional races, the M-22 Challenge will award the top athletes with trophies, provided by TC Mirror & Waterjet Cutting. Trophies will be the M-22 Challenge logo cut from stainless steel and will be mounted on granite.
Awards go to the top three male and female finishers. The first man and woman to reach the top of the dune earns the King and Queen of the Dune award.
While some athletes will compete to win (See sidebar), others are encouraged to simply enjoy the area.
A lot of people are going to take it easy, especially on the dune, said Matt Jr. Anyone can do it. You see grandma and grandpa walking up the dunes all the time.
The purpose of the M-22 Challenge is to test athletes against the natural terrain of Northern Michigan, that means a personal challenge for each individual. This race is about keeping people active and healthy, said Matt Jr.
We just want to do a really good job and put on a first class race, Matt Sr. added. I want people to say, I really want to come back here. Now, that would be pretty sweet.
TAKE THE CHALLENGE
Early registration is open online through June 17. However, registration and check-in will be available June 18, from 5-7 p.m. at the M-22 store in Traverse City. The store is located at 121 E. Front Street, Suite 104. Cost for the race is $75. Participants without a kayak are encouraged to reserve one in advance through Crystal River Outfitters of Glen Arbor.
Those interested in volunteering may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The race will be June 20 at the Little Glen Lake Picnic Area. Event staging begins at 7 a.m. with a race start time of 9 a.m. For directions and more information on the M-22 Challenge, visit www.m22challenge.com.
One Mans Quest....
By Erin Crowell
Kegan Gill wants to be the first winner of the M-22 Challenge. The multi-discipline race (a two-mile run, 17-mile bike and one-mile paddle) is making its premier, this Saturday, in Leelanau County. Gill, a 23-year-old native of Traverse City, has been training for the event for the past three months.
An avid kite boarder, Gill learned about the race through fellow boarders Matt and Keegan Myers. The brothers, who own Broneah Kiteboarding and the M-22 store in Traverse City, created the race out of an interest to bring exercise outdoors.
The race is going to push people for sure, said Gill. I thought it would be a good motivator to stay in shape, give me something to do.
That something to do includes a regimented training schedule of running, biking and kayaking, along with strength training.
Gill bikes or runs every Tuesday and Thursday. On Sunday, he completes the entire race route at the event location, which includes kayaking Little Glen Lake (his chosen mode of transportation for the paddle portion).
The running portion of the race begins with a dune climb. Gill has prepared himself for this unusual element by running up the dune every week. He also trains three days a week at Leading Edge Fitness, located near Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City.
The unorthodox exercise routines used at Leading Edge has helped Gill become stronger and faster for the race, he said.
Routines include a fast circuit of jumping, pushing and lifting, most notably the exercise of flipping a 300-pound tire end-over-end, then pounding it with a mallet for several repetitions.
Training for the M-22 Challenge has served a double purpose for Gill. In November, he will be leaving for the Navy Officer Candidate School in Rhode Island. Gill is using training for the Challenge as training for candidate school.
I want to become a Navy pilot, so this is the perfect motivator to get in shape, he said.
Gill isnt estranged to the racing circuit, especially triathlons. He has competed in six other races in the past few years and says he feels comfortable with the race format.
Because its the inaugural race, Gill isnt sure what to expect as far as competition.
I probably wont be the fastest out there, but Im going to try my best, he said.