2017 has come to an end, and with it any illusions we were still cherishing about checking off the ambitious New-Year’s resolutions we all pinned to our “vision boards” last January. The good news, for those of us who will be crossing off just one word from that resolutions list — “2017” — there is hope for next year. Some of the most widely aspired-to resolutions include fitness challenges and travel, which just happen to be a killer duo. And while trapping yourself into going to the gym by committing to a year-long membership may work for some, others would rather wave goodbye to the monthly fees than spend their early mornings and evenings in a sweaty, brightly-lit workout box. This year, put your holiday bonus to great use by planning your dream fitcation — book a cabin, register for an outdoor adventure race and start training. Let’s all reach for a resolutions win in 2018!
To help you in your quest, here is a list of unique Michigan fitness challenges throughout the year — and unique Michigan lodging to match:
January: Michigan Adventure Race
This 6-mile, triathlon-style race is the largest outdoor winter adventure race in the U.S.! A mix of snowshoeing, fatbiking and paddling the icy waters through Manistee National Forest, the Michigan Adventure Race presents a variety of challenges, not the least of which is the weather! Participants are provided with the cold-weather equipment and plenty of motivational prizes to get them across the finish line.
Find out more and register at http://miadventurerace.com/
February: Ground Hog Marathon
Celebrate Ground Hog’s Day in 2018 by paying a visit to Grand Rapid’s local celebrity Augustus T. Groundhog. This cold-weather running event consists of a full marathon, a half marathon and a “Moonlight 1/6 Marathon” the night before. Much like the eponymous movie, the Ground Hog Marathon certified course repeats itself — up to six times, if you are running the full! And regardless of whether Augustus sees his shadow, there is likely to be snow on the course.
Read more and register at http://www.groundhogmarathon.com/
March: Clare Irish Festival Road Race
This jolly green St. Patty’s Day road race features a 5K run, 10K run and a 2-mile walk. Racers begin and end at Clare High School, and will receive a t-shirt and a free pancake breakfast in the school cafeteria. Following the competitive races, kids under 13 will be invited to participate in a Fun Run. Bring the whole family and let your Irish roots run wild!
See race details and registration info at: https://runsignup.com/Race/MI/Clare/clareroadrace
April: April Fool’s Day Twinkie Run
Start the day off right with coffee and Twinkies, then head out for a 5k! This ironic foodie run is a popular bucket-list item, with it’s amusing t-shirts and other race paraphernalia and its infamous finish-line (and course station) goodies: grilled Twinkies and chocolate. The race coincides with Ann Arbor’s annual homemade Twinkie contest, with proceeds from the collaborative event going to support ALS research.
Keep an eye out for updated 2018 information at: http://www.activeagainstals.org/events/twinkie-run/
May: Coast to Coast Gravel Grinder
The Gravel Grinder chases the sun across the great state of Michigan, with racers starting at dawn at Saginaw Bay on the coast of Lake Huron and peddling a furious 210 miles along scenic gravel backroads. This race is routed through farm and field and between the trees of the Manistee National Forest, with the finish line staked out on the sandy beach of Lake Michigan at Ludington. Traverse the lower peninsula in one fell swoop with this epic lake-to-lake challenge.
Register at: http://micoasttocoast.com/
June: Michigan Adventure Race — Epic Edition
In early June, the Caberfae Peaks Resort just outside of Cadillac, MI, hosts the Caberfae Epic Edition, a co-ed outdoor adventure race that combines paddling, orienteering and gravel or two-track biking through the Manistee National Forest. Divisions include one, two, three and four-person race groups, with racers eligible for raffle prizes. You will also be rewarded for you physical activity with an enormous wedding-style buffet!
See details and register here: http://miadventurerace.com/
July: Greatest Fourth in the North
Lake City celebrates the nation’s independence with an annual 5k run, 10k run, 5k walk and Fun Run, followed by refreshments and a Fourth of July parade down main street. The course begins at downtown’s City Park, then heads out of town to traverse the surrounding woodlands, running alongside Lake Missaukee. Trophies are awarded to age-group first through third-place finishers — in case the sense of accomplishment just isn’t enough to motivate you.
Register for the Greatest Fourth in the North: http://lakecitymich.com/greatest-4th-in-the-north/
August: Dog Days of Summer
If those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer have you itching to get out and sweat, Elite Pet Styling of Owosso, MI, has you covered. The Dog Days of Summer 5k run/walk is held in late August, and encourages everybody — and their dog — to get out and run in the heat of the Michigan summer. Prizes and medals are awarded to the top finishers in each age category, as well as to the first 70 furry friends to cross the finish line!
September: Lord of the Springs
In mid-September, the Yankee Springs Recreation Area will hold one race to rule them all: the annual 26-mile, single-track and gravel bike race through the rolling backroads of Barry County. This race is geared toward beginner competitors, with a casual atmosphere and space for groups to ride together. The course covers 26 miles and circles around the Deep Lake Trail at Yankee Springs. Some of the proceeds from racing fees goes to support the West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance to build and maintain the local trails.
Sign up at: http://lordofthesprings.com/
October: Headless Horseman 5K
Here’s a spooky option for Halloween! The town of Howell, MI, makes great use of its punny name by celebrating Halloween weekend with the annual Legend of Sleepy Howell costume event, followed by the Headless Horseman 5 and 10k races and the Monster Mile, as well as trick-or-treating, hayrides and more.
See race-day details here: http://www.sleepyhowell.com/
November: Black Toenail Friday Half
Michigan’s Commerce Township dredges up some unsightly imagery with this play on words. The “Black Toenail Friday Half” encourages participants to skip the shopping marathon the day after thanksgiving and spend your calories on the trails. This half marathon is hosted by the Proud Lake Recreation Area, with a course set through the scenic trails and around the lake. This race also takes advantage of the cooler weather to offer racers a later-than-normal start time. The Black Toenail Friday Half kicks off at 11:00 a.m., so you can have your turkey coma and still make the starting gun.
December: Run Like the Dickens
Bring 2018 full-circle with the Baird St. Holly Run Like the Dickens winter running event. This festive road race celebrates a holiday classic while battling classic holiday eating habits with a 10k run, a 5k run, a 5k walk and a Tiny Tim Trot. The course runs through the picturesque town of Holly, MI, weaving through the local lights and decorations. Best of all, participants can check a race off their resolution bucket list — just in time to start a new list!
Find out more at: https://www.runlikethedickens.org/
Didn’t find the single race that inspires your soul to give up potato chips and become a fitness fanatic? Worry not — Michigan has hundreds of local races scattered throughout the year. Check out RunningInTheUSA.com for more competitive events in the Mitten State!
Don’t forget to book your cabin! Every serious racer (and the not-so-serious ones) needs a place to get a good night’s sleep before the big day — and a place to have a big meal (or a big drink) after it’s over! Explore these great Michigan vacation homes and resorts by town at RentMichiganCabins.com to find the perfect race-day setup — and good luck in 2018!
Michigan Rental Cabins by Town: