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Countdown to June 9.


Run / 2.5mi

Beginning with a shotgun start in the south-bound lane of M-109, Athletes will pass through the starting line and continue into the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Competitors will then face an approximately 100 yard climb up the sand dune, bank left around a marker, run a short sprint along the top of the dune, and then make another left for a run down the dune face. Don’t let this portion of the event intimidate you! 

Once off the dune, a short groomed trail will lead runners back on to M-109 where the running portion concludes with a sprint back to the main event site and into the transition area. Remember, this years King and Queen of the Dune will be won by the first male and first female to complete the entire running portion. So that means you have to be the fastest from the start of the race to the finish of the run.


Bike / 17mi

Once athletes complete the run portion of the event, they will enter the south end of the transition area to gear up for the 17 mile bike ride. There will be a designated area where competitors can mount their bike and head straight north on M-109. This road makes a sharp right-hand turn and leads into downtown Glen Arbor. Bikers will pass through downtown and merge onto M-22.

M-22 will take you along the Crystal River up to County Road 675 where riders make another right-hand turn and continue along the eastern edge of Big Glen Lake up to Inspiration Point. The route then follows along the southern edge of Big and Little Glen Lake, merges back onto M-22 briefly, then merges onto Welch Road and then turns onto Harriger and back onto M-109. Bikers then sprint back to the event site and into the transition area to prepare for the paddle course. 

Riders are required to stay as close to possible to the white line on the road and there is absolutely no crossing of the yellow line.  Helmets are mandatory for the biking portion and drafting is not allowed and will result in a time penalty.

For drafting rules click here.


Paddle / 2.5mi

Once athletes finish with the biking portion, they will pass through the staging area, pick up their paddle craft, and launch into the water for a 2.5mile paddle. The course begins by heading directly south to a designated point. Athletes will make a left-hand turn around a buoy and head east.

Participants then make a final left-hand turn around the second buoy and head into the final stretch for spectacular views of the Sleeping Bear Dune Climb. About 20 yards from shore, athletes will dismount their kayak or SUP and run through the water into the finish corral and over the finish line. 

*Note to participants, there are some very shallow spots in this section so be prepared. The bottom is all sand, but will require strategic navigation to excel. Participants need to wear or have a PDF on their craft.




Start/Finish Line

START LINE: Run staging will open at 7:50 am in the closed-off portion of M-109. 

WAVE 1: Expert (or have finished top 3 in age group in last 3 years)
WAVE 2: 29 & Under
WAVE 3: 30-39
WAVE 4: 40-49
WAVE 5: 50 & Over

FINISH LINE: Athletes will paddle into a kayak/SUP dismount area where competitors will jump out of their boats, run out of the water and sprint a short distance through the finish line. We’ll have volunteers helping move your water craft out of the way and safe for you to pick up later.

Packet Pick-up

Check-In times are June 8 from 3-7 pm at the M22 shop in Glen Arbor (6298 W. Western Ave, M22), and June 9 from 6:30-7 am at the Event Site (please check-in on the 9th if at all possible). PLEASE NOTE: M22 Challenge is striving to be a zero waste event and has implemented a “packet-less” pickup process at registration. Please understand that you will not receive a packet full of miscellaneous products from various vendors. In past years we have realized that this process tends to leave the event with excessive items that never end up being used. Instead, you will be handed a reusable M22 bag and will have the opportunity to pick up select items from event sponsors that come to the registration. We hope you understand this “less is more” registration process.

Competitor's Meeting

All competitors are asked to gather at the announcers podium for a mandatory racer meeting at 7:30am.


The event will be chip timed with mats in three locations: the start line, entrance or exit of the transition area, and the finish line. Click below for instructions on how to use the timing chip on race day:


In order to maintain pedestrian safety at the event site and along M-109, the SLEEPING BEAR DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE and the LEELANAU COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT is requiring that no vehicles are allowed to park along M-109 at anytime for any reason. Vehicles parked along M-109 will be ticketed.

During equipment drop-off, vehicles must pull into the designated drop-off area and unload their vehicle and move out to park at an off-site location as soon as possible. Also after the race, participants must use the designated pick-up area to load their equipment. Due to the small event site area, we ask that participants please be prepared to unload and load their equipment as quickly as they can. We will have volunteers available for assistance.

Please, please, please try and drop off your kayak/SUP and bike at the event site during the Friday staging time. We have hired a security guard to watch over all equipment for Friday night. The event site space is limited and there will be LOTS of traffic, so for your own peace of mind, we ask you drop your boat off on Friday. You can leave your bike overnight, or ride it from the parking lot to the event site in the morning.


Survival Tips for the M22 Challenge

M22 Challenge Transitions: Fuel & Secrets

RUNNING TIP: To excel at this event, jog trails at the Dunes. If you have access to sand even on a flat surface (such as our beaches in town), use them as training grounds.  Try doing sprint intervals in the sand for short distances of 30, 50 and 100 yards. It would be a good idea to set markers at each distance.  After a thorough warm-up, try 30 yards at full effort then rest until you feel ready to go again. Sprint 50 yards at about 80% effort and then after minimal rest, try 100 yards or more at 60% effort. You want to lean forward slightly while in the sand and take smaller steps.  Lunges, squats and skipping rope are good exercises for leg strength, coordination and development.

BIKE TIP: Establishing a steady working pace considering the distance is the key to shaving time off the clock. You need to know the course layout to develop a plan if you are in it to win. Many people practice in the off season attending spinning classes or riding at home on their own stationary set up.  The key is to ride flats and hills that are farther and steeper than what the event calls for while maintaining a good pace. Try 20-25 miles at a challenging pace and by race time you can pick up the intensity for the shorter distance. If you are a local, climb Philosophy Hill (Co Rd 675) twice a week for endurance and hill training.

PADDLE TIP: Balance and coordination lead to efficiency.  If you plan to do the stand- up paddling method, make sure that in addition to getting out on the water that you spend time using other devices to enhance balance. If you are a member of a health club, you can find things like the Bosu balance device, Bongo boards, Indo Boards or anything similar. You have to train the legs and brain in a variety of ways to improve the training effect. With practice, you will improve technique and posture, spend less time clenching your board with your toes and spend more time delivering a powerful paddle stroke.  When you have a strong foundation with the legs, practice keeping your abdominals engaged especially when you start the paddle stroke. You want to try and keep your hips square so you don’t lose power as you follow through. Some exercises for the upper body and core would include dumbbell rows, cable pulls to the chest and performing rotations for the trunk with cables or elastic bands. These exercises would be similar for kayak users with the exception of the leg involvement.


Athletes are required to supply their own equipment, including bikes (road bikes or mountain bikes), helmets (mandatory), water transportation (kayak/canoe/stand up paddle board/etc), and paddles. Local rental options are listed below. You are encouraged to reserve your rental early due to limited inventory.


Event staging takes place on Friday June 9 from 5-8pm and from 6:00-7:00am Saturday June 10 at the event site. Run staging opens at 7:50am. Please, please, please try and drop off your kayak/SUP and bike at the event site during the Friday staging time (June 9 between 5 and 8pm). 

We are not responsible for late arrivals and hold the right to refuse any entry after staging/transition area is closed. Bikes and kayaks/SUP’s/etc. must be placed in proper location during the allotted staging time. Please respect the event management and volunteers, profanity will not be tolerated, along with any type of littering. Automatic Disqualification to any athlete that throws any type of refuse on the course at any point. We ask that you please leave clean tracks and put garbage in the designated bins.

Kayak/SUP Power Washing

In an effort to safeguard against invasive species, the Glen Lake Invasive Species Control Program is requiring that either: 
A) participants have their kayaks or SUPS and equipment washed and inspected by the Glen Lake Association boat wash station located at the MDNR launch ramp on the northeast side of Little Glen Lake on West Day Forest Rd. or
B) assure with officials at registration that their watercraft and equipment have not been in another body of water for 10 or more days or
C) their watercraft and equipment have been power washed with hot water.
A receipt or tag for your boat will be given to participants upon the completion of the wash, or at registration if an assurance can be made that the boat is invasive species free per A) or B) above. This will allow boats to enter the race event site. For those who can guarantee alternative clean boat compliance B) or C) above tags will be provided at the registration check-in. The boat wash will be open from 6:00 am until 9:00 pm on Friday June 9th, and at 6:00 am until 7am the day of the event. NOTE: There will be NO OPPORTUNITY to approve or clean equipment after that time, so do not be late. IF YOU FAIL TO OBTAIN YOUR TAG YOU WILL NOT BE PERMITTED TO USE THAT EQUIPMENT IN THE RACE. NO EXCEPTIONS. To prevent transporting invasive species elsewhere, please return to the boat wash station after the race or dry your kayak/SUP for 10 days before putting it into another body of water.

  • M22 Store address:  6298 W. Western Ave
  • Boat Wash Station address:  7075 W Day Forest Rd.
  • Event Site address:  6900 South Dune Highway

Weather Delays

June in Northern Michigan can bring any type of weather so be prepared for clear blue skies and 85 degrees, or cool rain and fog. The race start will not be delayed for any weather related reason unless there is severe lightening visible in the area, which would most likely pass quickly. Be ready for the start of the race at 8am regardless of rain or fog. If there is a delay it will be in 15 minute increments and announced at the event site, our Facebook page and Instagram.




Be prepared for LOTS of traffic and long lines to park the morning of the event. All competitors and spectators are asked to park in downtown Glen Arbor and use provided shuttle service, or park either the “Dune Climb” parking lot, the “North” lot, or the “South” lot – no parking is allowed at the event site or on the side of the road (Park regulations). There will be handicap parking available at the event site. 

Shuttle service begins at 6am.

Anyone parking at Little Glen Picnic Area must have a M22 Parking sticker visible in their windshield.  If they don't have a sticker the vehicle will be ticketed and towed.


Entrance Fee for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

The M22 Challenge takes place within the boundaries of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. For this reason all participants and spectators must have a Park Entrance Pass. For private vehicles, the pass is $15 and covers everyone riding in the vehicle. Motorcycles are $10. Racers and spectators on foot or bicycle are $7.00 per person for anyone 16 years of age or older. All passes are valid for 7-days. An Annual Park Entrance Pass for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is also available for $30. Passes can be purchased at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire, Dune Climb Entrance Station, or at the M22 Store in Glen Arbor. IT IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED THAT YOU BUY YOUR PASS AHEAD OF TIME. For more information about entrance fees, please call the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center at 231-326-4700, ext. 5010.


  • Participants can park in the overflow “South” lot of the Dune Climb, BUT they must be out of the lot by 12:30pm.
  • Participants can park in the field office “North” lot north of the Dune Climb.
  • Dune lot is open for parking. We ask that you please use the North lot and South lot first.
  • If all parking is full at North, South, and Dune lots, please park downtown Glen Arbor and take the shuttle from the M22 shop or ride your bike. Shuttle service begins at 6am.
  • We encourage those who would like to warm up before the race to park downtown Glen Arbor and ride their bike the 3 miles to the event site.

Parking Fees

Vehicles parked on the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore property will need to purchase and entrance pass. Passes can be purchased at the registration check-in at the M22 store in Glen Arbor, or at the National Lakeshore headquarters in Empire, or at the Dune Climb parking area.


All volunteers please park anywhere downtown Glen Arbor and take the shuttle from the M22 shop to the event site. 6298 Western Ave. (M22) in Glen Arbor, MI


The next best thing to participating in the M22 Challenge is watching it! Come join us and see your friends and family compete in "the most beautiful race in America!"



Located just miles from the M-22 Challenge race start & finish, spectators and athletes can stay at The Homestead for a discounted rate. Package includes: nightly lodging, in your choice of accommodations, you will also receive a souvenir M-22 logo hat, Mountaineer breakfast each morning from CQ’s Cabin, the resort’s on-site breakfast restaurant for each guest. Rates start at $122 per person per night plus tax, based on double occupancy. Please contact The Homestead at 231-334-5100 or visit In the Glen Arbor area there are also many vacation homes for rent along with camping options. Check out the Glen Arbor ChamberDH Day CampgroundMaple Lane Resort, or Bear Lake Bed and Breakfast.

Spectator Things to Do

Don’t forget to bring your friends and family to cheer you on! There are many great spots to spectate: transition area, finish line, Glen Arbor and of course Inspiration Hill. After the race enjoy the area! Just 15 miles north along the scenic M-22 highway to the Leland Harbor and steps from historic Fishtown, participants as well as their family and friends will find the Leland Wine & Food Festival beginning at noon the same day as the M22 Challenge. 



View the M22 Challenge race photos. See the even through the eyes of our photographers, purchase images, and relive the event from start to finish.


The top three finishers in both the Male & Female Overall Divisions & the Top Three Place Finishers of each age group will receive trophies.