Photo: Mark Daisy
900 athletes took off from the start line early Saturday morning on M-109 in Glen Arbor in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. This year’s race was extra special, as it marked a decade of the reputable M22 Challenge.
The race began with the infamous 2 mile “Dune Climb”, followed by a 17 mile bike race up Inspiration Point and around Big and Little Glen Lake, and finishes with a 2.5 mile standup paddle or kayak on the choppy waters of beautiful Little Glen lake.
Photo: Jake Holtrop Racer: Ryan Decook
Ryan DeCook, 37, of Washington, MI was first in the men’s group to cross the finish line with a course-breaking record of 1:11:02. Twenty-five year-old Jamie Endicott, of Traverse City, MI secured the top honor among the women, marking her 4th win with an impressive time of 1:20:23.
“I just love this race, it’s such a beautiful area. I’ve done a lot of triathlons, over 100 across the world, and this is definitely one of the more special races out there. Being able to kayak in this gorgeous, beautiful water, running up the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, there’s just nothing else like it on earth.”
– Ryan DeCook, Overall Men’s Winner
Jamie Endicott credits her improved paddle form for helping her charge through the waves to solidify her 4th female division win.
Photo: Tony Demin Racer: Jamie Endicott
“This is the most positive race I’ve ever done, I keep coming back because the vibe is just so good”.
–Jamie Endicott, Overall Female Winner
The M22 Challenge attracts renowned athletes from across the country, with many participants who return to try and beat their times from previous years. The challenge is so loved by so many, that participants such as Duane Amato, 67, of Traverse City, have competed in all ten Challenges.
When asked why he keeps coming back, Duane said:
“I do about ten triathlons a year, and out of all ten, this race is by far my favorite because it is hands down, without a doubt, the most fun out of all of them. The energy and the views alone are unbeatable, and all of the people that come out, it’s just really, really great.”
Photo: Jake Holtrop Racer: Matt Myers
Plus, it doesn’t hurt that this year marks Duane’s 8th consecutive age group win in the M22 Challenge.
Planet Fitness (Traverse City), a local and nationally based fitness center dedicated to promoting fitness and health in a judgement free environment, was the presenting sponsor of the event this year.
“It’s all about getting up and doing something good for yourself. We have all types of people that come in to stay active and that’s why the partnership with M22 Challenge was a great fit. Not everyone is going to win, but just trying and being proud of yourself for finishing the event, that’s what is most important.”
–Ken DeBusscher, Owner of Planet Fitness
In addition to all of the athletes that came out, many volunteers were also present to ensure that Challenge ran smoothly. From setting up the course, to passing out water, to quickly removing kayaks near the finish line, the Challenge simply would not have been possible without all of our wonderful volunteers hard work.
Photo: Mark Daisy Racer: Keegan Myers
Matt Myers, Co-Owner of M22 says “great energy this year and it was perfect weather for a race. It’s been a blessing being able to get such a great group of people together for ten years in a row now for the M22 Challenge.”
M22 emphasizes the importance of preserving the natural environment and conducts business in a sustainable way. We are proud to call the M22 Challenge a zero-waste event, and we strive to be meticulous about not introducing invasive species into the local waters.
Photo: Tony Demin
About the M22 Challenge and M22:
The M22 Challenge is a multi-discipline event based in beautiful Leelanau County in the heart of northern Michigan, designed to challenge athletes against the natural terrain and elements of the area. The 2018 Event was presented this year by title sponsor Planet Fitness (Traverse City).