What: TCTC Bayshore Marathon 2017
When: Saturday of Memorial Day weekend
Where: Traverse City, Michigan — Cherry Capital and Caribbean of the Midwest. If you make a mitt with your left hand, this race is at the inside top of your pinky.
Weather: Sunny, 60-70 degrees. Felt pretty warm in the final miles of the race. Luckily most of the race is at least partially shaded, so no sunburn for me.
Getting There/Where to Stay: We flew in to the Grand Rapids airport, about 2 hours of driving from Traverse City. There is a Traverse City airport, but we waited too long, and by the time we went to book, there weren’t any direct flights that worked with our schedule and/or budget. Even flying out of the Grand Rapids airport, my husband wasn’t able to fly direct back home. (I went to CO for Dirty 30, while he headed home to DC at the end of the weekend.) All in, this ended up being a pretty pricey trip for us, considering flights and a rental car. To offset these expenses, we spent the first two nights at the Traverse City Park Campground in our tent. This worked out great, and I highly recommend it. It was just over $100 for three nights, vs. $150 or more per night at the mediocre-looking Traverse City hotels. After two nights, we decided to jump down to Grand Rapids for the third night, not because camping wasn’t working, but because we didn’t feel like doing an early-morning drive before our flights. In Grand Rapids, we stayed at a Fairfield and it was fine.
Expo/Race Logistics/Swag: This race was really well-organized, with no hiccups/drama from packet pickup through the finish area. I picked up my packet on Friday at a busy but quick expo. Race-morning pickup was also available which is awesome for people who were getting into town late on Friday. Along with our bibs, we got a free tech tee plus a pair of green Feetures socks. Morning of the race was easy — my husband dropped me off near the start, I stopped in a real indoor bathroom at the high school, and then I worked my way to the start line. The race started at 7:15, and leaving the campground at around 6:30 left me plenty of time. There were typical aid stations along the course with water and Gatorade. A couple of spots had oranges and Gu as well. At the finish, we got a cool race medal — sort of a stained glass look to it. We also got Moomer’s Ice Cream, which was apparently voted the best ice cream in the country. It was good.
The Course: This was a mostly-flat out-and-back pavement course along a peninsula, lined with nice homes. Hooray for no strip malls/highway shoulder miles! The view of Lake Michigan throughout the race was nice but to be honest, it got a little boring.
How It Went: I signed up for this race as a back-up BQ option. I BQ’d in Phoenix earlier this year, so there was no need to push myself at this race. Instead I treated it as a last long run/shakeout before Dirty 30 this coming weekend. I tried to run easy and steadily, even as the day heated up. I got a bit bored, so I switched from Pandora to podcasts for the last hour or so. Official finish time: 4:02:38.
Overall: Like It. I’d recommend this race for folks looking to BQ (hope for a cool day), people who can drive to Traverse City, and 50 Staters. I probably wouldn’t recommend that folks who don’t fall into these categories go out of their way to run this race, given the cost of getting to and around Traverse City. Overall, really well-run (heh), low-key event in a cute town.
Things to Do In Traverse City: Here were some of our favorite things.
- Get lunch at Spanglish. The bean and rice burrito was perfect for carb-loading.
- Golf at The Bear or Arcadia Bluffs.
- Have some beers and flatbreads at The Filling Station. Sit outside.
- Get drinks or a meal at The Franklin. Lots of vegetarian options. We also tried sister restaurant Stella Trattoria for better-than-decent Italian.
- Sip a tasting at the Grand Traverse Distillery Tasting Room. There, we met some cool guys, Nick and Bill, from AMP’D Athletic Association in the Chicago suburbs. We talked about BQs, trail running, and Bill’s awesome charity golf event, Beat Tom and Bill. Check it out!
- Devour some Moomer’s ice cream, either at the finish line or in downtown TC. The custard at Culver’s (a fast-food restaurant) was also surprisingly good. We tried the options at Milk and Honey and felt that they were skippable.
- Sample cherry-everything at Cherry Republic. Cherry salsa was the best of what I tried.
- Walk along the sandy shores of Lake Michigan.
- Pick up a breakfast burrito and house-made chai at Breakaway Cafe.
- Forest bathe in the C.S. Mott Nature Preserve and take the Baldy Trail to Arcadia Dunes, with a great view of Lake Michigan. It’s a quick, easy, well-marked 0.8 miles each way on the most direct route, or get lost in the dozen or so miles of trail at the St. Pierre Trailhead.
- Have a virgin beet margarita at Terra in Grand Rapids. They say beet is a good recovery food!