How the Great Turtle Half Marathon Came To Be on Mackinac Island

Anne Gault_Gault Race ManagementWe recently had a chance to sit down with Mackinac Island resident, Anne Gault of Gault Race Management – the team behind the scenes at Mackinac Island’s Great Turtle Half Marathon and 5.7 Mile Run/Walk! This year’s race will be held on October 25, 2014.

Today, Anne gives us an inside look at planning the race and how it came to be on Mackinac Island.

Q: How did you get your start in race management?

A: John (Anne’s Husband) has had a love for running for over 40 years. When we first met we ran together as a couple with a running club in mid-Michigan. Participating in club events it became apparent the need for a computerized scoring system at race events. We started the company nearly 20 years ago, and have been fulltime with Gault Race Management for the past 15 years.

Photo courtesy of Mackinac Island Tourism

Photo courtesy of Mackinac Island Tourism

Q: Why Mackinac Island?

A: We fell in love with Mackinac Island, and were married there. We now own a condo on the island so we are part time residents. John’s been involved in the Mackinac Island Eight Mile & Kids Run since its inception. We started the Great Turtle Half Marathon and 5.7 Mile Run/Walk weekend because the island holds a special place in our heart but also because we felt fellow runners should share in the beauty that is Mackinac Island in the fall.

Q: What makes the Great Turtle Half Marathon and 5.7 Mile Run / Walk weekend on Mackinac Island different from the other races?

A: So many things make the Great Turtle Weekend different than other race weekends. First, it’s Mackinac Island. The course is much different than other races we go to. While it considered a trail run, as some of the run is through the island, in the middle of the woods, other parts are on the paved roads of Mackinac Island. The course offers runners the opportunity to take in the beauty and serenity of the island.

One of the other things that makes the Great Turtle Half Marathon stand out is the medal. Runners receive one of the coolest looking medals, more of a keepsake…a turtle that opens with the shape of the course in the middle. Participants can also have the media engraved.

Q: What’s changed over the years?

Photo courtesy of Mackinac Island Tourism

Photo courtesy of Mackinac Island Tourism

A: Over the years we’ve watched the Great Turtle Half Marathon weekend grow more than we ever imagined. What started out as a co-op with Mission Point Resort, a small group where everyone enjoyed a post-race meal has grown into a weekend of nearly 3,000 runners. People come in from around the country to see and enjoy a run on this piece of heaven we know as Mackinac Island.

Q: What do you look forward to on Mackinac Island?

It’s the last hurrah of the tourist season on the island so many businesses are having sales. It’s also Halloween weekend so there are plenty of fun things for kids and families to do. The race weekend has become a tradition in that runners bring costumes and Halloween candy, and families enjoy trick-or-treating.

There’s still time to register for the 2014 Great Turtle Half Marathon and 5.7 Run/Walk. Visit the website for details!  

Seven Spots in Michigan to Sip and Savor Mother Nature

Today, guest blogger Joanna Dueweke from The Awesome Mitten shares some of her favorite places around the state to drink Pure Michigan wine or craft beer and enjoy her scenic surroundings. 

Photo courtesy of Cortney Casey - MichiganByTheBottle.com

Photo courtesy of Cortney Casey – MichiganByTheBottle.com

Increasingly, Michigan is home to more and more brilliant breweries and vibrant vineyards with views of rolling hills, gentle waves, and urban streets. The libations are as varied as the locations; not only do you have ample opportunity to explore the tasty treats being concocted at each locale, but each has something different to offer up as far as gazing is concerned. One of the things we celebrate most as Michiganders is how absolutely beautiful our surroundings are (even when it means glistening snow resting on pine tree branches) all year round. To really celebrate this grandeur, a glass of riesling or a succulent saison helps to take in the views at these establishments around the state with a smile:

Jamesport Brewing Company – Ludington, West Michigan

Nestled on the shores of Lake Michigan, this Ludington gem is a great way to take in views of the harbor while satiating the need for delicious food paired with a craft beer. People rave about the food and the relaxed atmosphere as much as they talk about this lesser known brewery’s beer. Who can complain about a breeze off Lake Michigan with the West Michigan sun on a lazy afternoon with a beer in hand?

Hawthorne Vineyards – Traverse City, Northwest Michigan (East and West Bay)

Northwest Michigan is often praised for its many wineries (and increasing number of breweries) and their views of the Grand Traverse Bays, Lake Leelanau, and Lake Michigan. When you take a seat at Hawthorne Vineyards, you’re surrounded by all the majesty that is the rolling hills of vineyards and views of both East and West Grand Traverse Bay. Since we can’t have those “perfectly warm with a touch of a cool breeze” summer nights all the time in Northern Michigan, their porch comes suited with a fieldstone fireplace to warm the mood.

Brewery Vivant – Grand Rapids, West Michigan

Although water is beautiful and it is one of the biggest allures of living in Michigan, the urban areas around the state have just as much to offer. Brewery Vivant is the first LEED Certified brewery in the United States and is located inside an old church; sitting in their tasting room is truly a religious experience for folks that are fans of Belgian-style beers. When you venture outside, Cherry Street in Grand Rapids offers people watching and excitement that only a city street can offer.

Sandhill Crane Vineyards – Jackson, Mid Michigan

Cortney Casey Michigan by the bottle

Photo courtesy of Cortney Casey – MichiganByTheBottle.com

With a bountiful wine menu using only fruits grown in Michigan, folks are hard pressed to find something to complain about at Sandhill Crane Vineyards. It often takes some convincing to explain what an amazing experience the Pioneer Wine Trail can be in and around Jackson. That’s fine because when you’re seated outside the winery on the wraparound porch that overlooks the countryside, you’re most likely hooked. You never know, maybe you’ll glimpse a crane out in the vineyards.

Frankenmuth Brewery – Frankenmuth, East Michigan

As one of Michigan’s oldest brewing operations, Frankenmuth Brewery offers a host of award-winning brews.  For those looking to linger a while, the brewery boasts expansive outdoor space, and walls of windows, from which folks can enjoy views of the calm Cass River, the river walk, and the town’s famous covered bridge in the distance.  As the proprietors say, “Come for the food, stay for the beer, and find out why Frankenmuth Brewery is a favorite Michigan tradition.”

Round Barn Winery, Distillery and Brewery – Baroda, Southwest Michigan

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Calkins

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Calkins

Winery, distillery and brewery in a giant white, round barn? Of course! Round Barn is snuggled the middle of fields and forest in Southwest Michigan. The space is conducive to all sorts of revelry with vast porches and constant planned activities. Community is a real focus here and the folks at Round Barn try to make sure the people coming up that side of the state know what kind of hospitality to expect in the rest of Michigan.

Keweenaw Brewing Company – Houghton, Upper Peninsula

Everything about the Upper Peninsula screams beautiful views, but put a beer in your hand, and that screaming just won’t be silenced. Sitting at the Keweenaw Brewing Company with a Widow Maker in hand (that’s a beer, promise) is pure perfection with a look at the Portage Canal. In true UP fashion, the beer is affordable, the atmosphere is overwhelmingly comfortable, and the people are friendly.

This list is no where near exhaustive because there are breweries and wineries all over with amazing views of Michigan, but choices had to be made. Where are your favorite places around Michigan to sip something delightful and savor all the beauty Michigan has to offer?

JoDuewekeJoanna Dueweke writes for The Awesome Mitten and is the Interactive Marketing Coordinator for the Detroit Regional Chamber. Born and raised in Traverse City, she is enjoying new adventures in the Detroit area, but also values her roots in Northern Michigan. Exploring the outdoors, sailing, travel, and enjoying the Mitten’s beer industry consume her time when she is not pursuing her Master’s in Library and Information Science at Wayne State University.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Experiencing ArtPrize 2014 in Grand Rapids

ArtPrize 2014 kicks off in just a couple of weeks! Grand Rapids will hum with creative energy across three square miles of downtown as artists and visitors from around the world flock to display and view the artwork.

Photo courtesy of Experience GR

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

This world’s largest art competition boasts more than 4500 artists at 515 venues! If you’re heading to the event for the first time or want to see more of what the area has to offer, use this step-by-step guide for experiencing ArtPrize from Experience Grand Rapids.

The sixth year of ArtPrize®, held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, returns September 24-October 12. The largest art competition in the country will feature over 1,500 international works of art throughout a three square mile area. What truly sets ArtPrize apart though is the fact your vote helps select one of the winners of the $200,000 grand prize.

To help make your ArtPrize experience the best it can be, we’ve gathered the top five insider tips from experienced ArtPrize visitors both in and outside of Grand Rapids.

Plan Your Day

Stick-to-it-tive-ness Richard Morse 2012

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Visit the ArtPrize website to see all 1,536 entries and start planning your “must see” exhibits. If you have an iPhone, iPad or Android device, download the ArtPrize app to search for specific entries or discover art near you when you come to town. You can also vote through the app-no need to wait in line! If you can swing it, plan more than one day to visit. Grand Rapids is home to many hotels downtown and in outlying areas to meet your overnight needs.

Pick a Parking Spot

Getting to ArtPrize early in the day will give you the most parking options. There are many downtown surface lots to choose from, and the Monroe Center Ramp provides one free hour of parking if you arrive between 8 am and 6 pm. Downtown parking meters are free after 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and most meters are free Saturdays while all are on Sundays. Don’t carry change in your pocket? Create an account to pay for parking via your cell phone.

Bus in

Why drive your car into the city, when you can leave it at participating Meijer stores and ride the bus!? Starting September 17, you can pick up two ArtPrize wristbands for only $5 at participating Meijer stores.  These wristbands give you unlimited rides on all Rapid, DASH and Silver Line buses all 19 days of ArtPrize. Wristbands are also available at the HUB and all Exhibition Centers.

Avoid the Crowds…or Not

Photo by Amanda Baarmen

Photo by Amanda Baarmen

The early bird gets the worm and fewer people on the streets at ArtPrize. Getting to ArtPrize early especially on day one not only helps you beat the crowds, you may even get to meet a few of the artists and speak to them about their work. Another way to manage the crowds is to visit Monday-Thursday when crowds are significantly less. And if you are a member of Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) you can get into GRAM two hours before the public to see nearly 20 ArtPrize entries.

But there is also an upside to additional people; especially when many are in town for the same reason. Being surround by likeminded people enjoying art, Grand Rapids and such a unique event can add energy and excitement to your day. Instead of “fighting the crowds,” soak in the amazing vibe of ArtPrize as you wander around the city and take it all in.

Explore ArtPrize

There are many ways to discover ArtPrize. To take any guesswork out of your day, download a self-guided tour for families and small groups available August 29. Speaking of groups, it’s a good idea to tour in smaller groups of two to four. Having fewer people to keep together makes it easier to get around. Then make plans with a larger group at a restaurant downtown to compare notes!

Another helpful tip is to bring your bicycle. Bikes make it easier to get to outlying venues and simply see more art since you can get from one venue to another that much quicker. You can also park a bit farther out of the city and ride in to avoid any parking jams.

Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes and clothes to ensure you can access any venue. It’s also a good idea to bring a sweater or dress in layers. The weather can be a bit unpredictable near the lakeshore!

Time to Eat

Brewery Vivant - Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Brewery Vivant – Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

While you are enjoying the cultural feast, it’s easy to forget to eat physical food. Luckily, with over 100 restaurants in the downtown area, finding a place for a bite and a beverage isn’t too hard.

Since Grand Rapids is Beer City USA, stop into one of the many brewpubs for a pint and a nice little lunch. Or grab something to go and eat outside in front of your favorite outdoor art.

Whichever way you decide to spend your time at ArtPrize, remember there is no one way to visit ArtPrize. Make the experience yours and have a blast.

Have you been to ArtPrize? Tell us your helpful tips and tricks for first-time ArtPrize visitors.