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!  

Six Exceptional Things to Do on Mackinac Island

Today, featured blogger Jesse Land of Things to do in the U.P. tells about six of his favorite can’t-miss Mackinac Island activities and attractions.

Photo by Eric Baillies

Photo by Eric Baillies

Growing up in the central Upper Peninsula made it easy for my family to take day occasional day trips to Mackinac Island. My Dad would pack up the car in the early morning and about three hours later my mom, dad, sister and I would be on a ferry to the island.

Those early memories include horses (lots of horses), fudge and ice cream, the hustle and bustle of the downtown area and bike rides around the island. They’re fond memories, but I realize now that my family only scratched the surface. Known for it’s horse and buggy rides, fudge and bicycles, I continue to discover things to do on the island that I never knew about.

Below I’ll list just a few of my favorite things to do on the island. Some you’ve heard of, others you probably haven’t!

The Mackinac Legends and Lore Nature Trek

Photo by Eric Baillies

Photo by Eric Baillies

Want to to be guided around the lesser known parts of Mackinac by a local? Mary Patay’s “Mackinac Island’s Legends and Lore Trek” will get you just that. On my recent trip to island, Mary guided my friends and I away from the busy downtown and through the solitude of Mackinac Island State Park. We toured Arch Rock, Sugar Loaf, Fort Holmes and caught the view from Robinson’s Folly.

The walk was peaceful, scenic and it was great to get a local’s perspective. The tour is just $10 per person and you can set up your own trek by calling Mary at (231) 590-5731 or emailing her at

The Observation Tower and Exhibits at Mission Point

Maybe you’ve seen the tall glass observation tower at Mission Point Resort, maybe you haven’t. But one things for sure, it’s well worth checking out. With five floors of historical exhibits ranging from the filming of Somewhere in Time to the construction of the Mackinac Bridge and much more. And though each level boasts a different enthralling exhibit, they all share one feature, an awesome view!

The Carriage Ride

The Mackinac Island Carriage Tour is popular for a reason! It’s a great way to see some of the islands highlights while experiencing part of what makes Mackinac great, the horses. And the tour guides to a great job with imparting tidbits of history and little known facts as you’re pulled away from downtown, past Arch Rock, to the Butterfly House and back again.

Bike Around the Island

Photo by Baillies

Photo by Eric Baillies

Also popular for a reason, the eight mile bike ride around the island is one of a kind experience. Even though there was a light rain, we threw on our raincoats, rented bikes from Mackinac Wheels†and had a great time. I love this bike ride because it’s mostly flat, very scenic and of course, there are no cars. And for you fat tire enthusiasts, Jimmy from Mackinac Wheels has been guiding weekly group single track rides through Mackinac’s interior, so be sure to ask about that.

Tour Mackinac by Kayak

Though we weren’t able to make time to get out on kayaks or stand up paddle boards on my last trip, I really, really want to make sure we do next time. Paul and the crew at Great Turtle Kayak Tours have a great selection of kayaks, canoes and stand up paddle boards to choose from, as well as a few great tour options. Personally, I want to check out the nearby Round Island Lighthouse so I’ll be connecting with them on my next trip!

Stay on the Island!

Photo by Eric Baillies

Photo by Eric Baillies

One thing we didn’t do during my childhood trips to the island was stay there. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I fist stayed on the island and I’ll never forget how cool it was to wake up to the sound of the horses hooves clopping on the street below our room. On my most recent visit, we stayed in a waterfront suite at the Chippewa Hotel and wow, what a view! And of course, it was nice to be just a few steps from the Pink Pony, too.

Yes, it can cost more to stay on the island but if you sign up for the hotel’s newsletters (like I do) and keep an eye on their social media channels (which I also do) you might be surprised at some of the great deals they offer.

Those are just a few of my favorite things to do on Mackinac Island. What are a few of yours?

Jesse-Land-headshot1Jesse Land writes about Upper Peninsula travel at

Eight Reasons to Keep Coming Back to Mackinac Island

Today, Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau shares eight reasons to keep coming back to Mackinac Island as told by their fans! 

Photo courtesy of Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

Photo courtesy of Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

Mackinac Island is known as a destination for reunions, a destination to return to year after year. From family vacation traditions to wedding and anniversary celebrations, or just a weekend getaway to have fun with friends and family, there are many reasons to keep coming back.

We recently asked some of our fans why they #MakeitMackinac every year. Here’s what they had to say…

Worked on the island during my summers in college to experience life outside of California. Now I go back every summer for a long weekend reunion with the amazing friends I made there. Can’t wait for my annual pilgrimage in just 6 more weeks… – DeeDee, Long Beach, CA

We spent our honeymoon on the island. It took us 10 years to get back, but we have been there every summer since. We renewed our wedding vows for our 20th anniversary a couple of years ago. We love this place so much, and our kids love it here as well! It’s always so sad when it comes time to leave the island. Maybe, someday, we won’t have to leave. – Tracy, Iowa City, IA

Photo courtesy of Mackinac Island Toursim Bureau

Photo courtesy of Mackinac Island Toursim Bureau

Grew up going to the island for a few days each summer. Went there for my honeymoon, and make it back every year. It’s my favorite place in the world to visit. – Allison

I visited the island a few times as a child, and loved it! Then my husband and I took our son when he was about 7 or 8. When we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary we visited the island with family. On our 10th we stayed at the Main Street Inn for a week. For our 15th anniversary stayed two nights at Main Street Inn and brought our son so he could also experience the quiet of the island. We still visit at least once a year, and are planning to stay at Grand Hotel for our 20th anniversary in a just a few years. Never stayed there and have always wanted to. We must have properly spread our love for the island to our son because this summer he is working for Shepler’s Ferry and having a wonderful experience. Yes, even with all of the hard work, he loves it. The island is truly a magical and wonderful place, and I hope it keeps it tradition forever. – Denise, Dewitt, MI

My husband and I met while working on the summer at Grand Hotel! Mackinac will always be magic to us! – Lora, Tyler, TX

Photo courtesy of Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

Photo courtesy of Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

My parents honeymooned there in the 1940s and have made the trip every year since. Sometimes we came two and three times a year. Following the tradition, my daughter got married there in 2003. Keep the tradition alive, my 4 month old grandson just made his first visit. There is no other place like Mackinac. To me it’s a place I crave when I’m away from it. – Susan

We were married at the gazebo at Mission Point. We come back every year for our anniversary. – Beverly, Adrian, MI

I’ve been visiting since I was about 6, first time with my grandparents. We have ancestral roots to the Island and St. Ignace. We have brought our children and now our grandchild. We try to visit every summer. Cannot get enough of this beautiful Island. My favorite place to bring family. – Pam, Chesterton, IN

Why do you keep coming back to Mackinac? Share your reasons with us below!