Overall Rating
Overall Rating (4 Reviews)
4.3
(4 Ratings)(4 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
4
SCENERY
4.8
PRODUCTION
3.5
SWAG
3.5
Join us for the scenic Sleeping Bear Marathon, Half Marathon & 5K in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. All races start and finish in Empire, MI. The out-and-back marathon course will take runners by the “Dune Climb”, past Little Glen Lake, and through the village of … MORE
Local Weather (Oct 05)
2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
 
H (°F) 62 50 60 76 58
L (°F) 47 40 48 61 52
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Recent reviews

    alaskey FIRST-TIMER '19

    We used to come up to Sleeping Bear Dunes in the summer because it's a wonderful little lake town in Northern Michigan and was cool at night, beautiful dark skies … MORE

    We used to come up to Sleeping Bear Dunes in the summer because it’s a wonderful little lake town in Northern Michigan and was cool at night, beautiful dark skies to see the Milky Way and Big and Little Glen Lakes are amazing, crystal clear lakes that are wonderful to play in. We’ve never been in the fall so I wanted to give this race a try. This is a small production, <500 runners for the half. Packet Pick Up is small and only a couple of hours on Friday night and pre-race Saturday morning. Empire is a village so there is no problem finding it or finding parking. The shirt was nice, cool emblem on it. They were selling previous year's shirts but they are smart and don't put the year on it so it isn't obnoxious to buy them. $5 a shirt couldn't be beat. Temp at the start this year was low 40s and overcast. The race starts out for the first 1.5mi on the road and quickly jumps over to the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. This is a wide paved trail that runs for miles and miles through the forest. It was beautiful and quiet. Be smart and run the tangents! I can't believe the number of people that follow curves like lemmings, adding distance to their race. There are some challenging grades (7-11%, marked for cyclists) with a brutal hill at mile 4-5 and 8-9. But remember, what goes down, also goes up. You can bank a little if you're smart on your downhills. The return on that steep part was a challenge because it's long and steep but keep at it and once on the other side you can lay down some speed miles to the finish. There were plenty of water stops and porta potties along the way. Spectators can find you in several places, and with it being an out and back they don't have to move too much if they don't want. The half turns at the Dune Climb and returns to Empire. The start time is an hour after the marathon so you aren't sharing the trail with them. The 5K is after the half so again, good course management. The medals were really nice, and age group awards this year were coasters with the emblem on it. The post-race food was little skimpy, but there was beer so that was a plus. I would definitely come back and do this one again, I love Glen Arbor and I loved this race.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    JoyceS FIRST-TIMER '18

    Most of this race is on smooth paved trail through forest and a delightful experience. Weather is highly variable this time of year so be prepared. All the basics were … MORE

    Most of this race is on smooth paved trail through forest and a delightful experience. Weather is highly variable this time of year so be prepared. All the basics were in place but don’t expect frills. Cold bits of bagel, cut up bananas, and a cold beer made up the offerings after a long cold wet run. I would love to do this again just for the pleasure of a paved run through these woods. Loved it.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

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    jllarsen FIRST-TIMER '17

    A super hilly out and back course on the heritage trail up in Empire, MI. Very pretty but if you get bored of just trees and wood scenery then this … MORE

    A super hilly out and back course on the heritage trail up in Empire, MI. Very pretty but if you get bored of just trees and wood scenery then this may not be for you. Unfortunately it rained and was 20 mph winds the entire race, but still able to appreciate the fall colors. The shirt was nice and they give you a cosi too but the expo is SUPER small, literally just a tent with check in and one rack of sweatshirts and cups you can buy. If you’re looking for a challenging course in the fall that shows off Michigan’s best fall colors, this is a good choice. If you choose your race based on swag and weather, look elsewhere.

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    1
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    2

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    Lorelei FIRST-TIMER '15

    I love Empire MI and I love the heritage trail. Glen Arbor is a quaint town. The sand dunes of Sleeping Bear are breath-taking. This race was on a paved … MORE

    I love Empire MI and I love the heritage trail. Glen Arbor is a quaint town. The sand dunes of Sleeping Bear are breath-taking.

    This race was on a paved trail through the picturesque woods and past the rolling sand dunes. There were some challenging hills – signs posted for 10% and 11% grades plus others – which I loved. This was a fun race and one that everyone should do. The crowds were not intense. Everything felt rather laid back. The expo was small but good. For me, this was a weekend getaway race with girlfriends – and it was perfect for just such an event.

    Don’t neglect to make a special trip to Moomer’s Ice Cream to celebrate.

    The medals arrived late and had to be mailed to us. We were disappointed in the lack of communication from the race officials. We were left to wonder if there were medals at all and, if so, when and how would we receive them. A simple sign at the end stating that there was a delay in receiving the medals and that they would be mailed to us would have sufficed. Instead, we had to ask around until we could get an answer. That was my only complaint, and I am sure this is NOT a common occurrence. I only mention it here hoping that the race organizers will see this hone their communication skills. We did get the medals very soon after the race and they were beautiful. The tech shirts were really nice, too.

    Instead of renting a hotel room, I would strongly recommend renting a house nearby. We were a 5-minute walk to the event. The accommodations were spacious and beautiful.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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  1. Races
  2. Sleeping Bear Marathon, Half Marathon & 5K