The Most Beautiful Race in America.

2019 M22 Challenge Badge-01.png

Run / Bike / Paddle Sleeping Bear Dunes June 13, 2020


Run / 2.5mi

Beginning with a shotgun start in the south-bound lane of M-109, athletes pass through the starting line and continue into the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Competitors then face a 100 yard climb up the infamous 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. Once off the dune, a short groomed trail leads runners back onto M-109 and concludes with a sprint back to the main event site and into the transition area.


Bike / 17mi

Described as one of Northern Michigan's most scenic bike routes, the 17-mile course will leave you breathless in more than one way. Leaving the transition area, (helmet mandatory) athletes dive right into a climb leading the way into downtown Glen Arbor and along the Crystal River. Be sure not to miss the right hand turn onto 675 that guides athletes 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 taking athletes through a tunnel of trees and  into the transition area. No crossing of the center line and a no drafting rule will be enforced.


Paddle / 2.5mi

The paddle course sets off across the aqua blue waters of Little Glen Lake.  Athletes often underestimate the importance of the paddle portion, but past years have shown that more then often the race is won or lost on the water. Athletes are able to choose from a surfski, kayak or SUP, however everyone must either wear or have a PDF on their craft. Just before shore, athletes dismount in the water and sprint for the finish line. This completes the M22 Challenge, the most beautiful race in America. 



View the M22 Challenge race photos. See the event through the eyes of
our photographers 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.


Event Details


Vital Race Details

Race cost: Registration is $150.00 which includes entry for one athlete, event shirt, event bag, and use of timing chip. There is no entry fee for spectators (other than National Park requirements), we encourage you to bring friends and family to cheer you on! Sorry but there are no refunds. No team options.

Check-In times are June 12 from 3-7 pm at the M22 shop in Glen Arbor (6298 W. Western Ave, M22), and June 13 from 6:30-7 am at the event site (please check-in on the 12th 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.

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.

Competitor's Meeting

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

Equipment Drop Off & Rentals

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. There is a security guard that will be monitoring all equipment 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.

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 available through Crystal River Outfitters in Glen Arbor. (For Traverse City rentals, try Brick Wheels.) You are encouraged to reserve your rental early due to limited inventory.

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.

Timing Chip

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:


Event staging takes place on Friday June 12 from 5-8pm and from 6:00-7:00am Saturday June 13 at the event site. Run staging opens at 7:50am. Please try and drop off your kayak/SUP and bike at the event site during the Friday staging time. 

We are not responsible for late arrivals and hold the right to refuse any entry after the 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 B) or C) 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 12, 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


In the Glen Arbor area there are many vacation homes for rent, along with several camping options. Check out the Glen Arbor ChamberDH Day CampgroundMaple Lane Resort, or Bear Lake Bed and Breakfast.

Visit Up North Vacation Rentals is offering 22% off the rental rates for the race weekend (two night minimum, subject to availability) for race participants!  To speak with a reservationist that can assist you, feel free to call (231) 922-8922. For more information, visit:

Leelanau Vacation Rentals is happy to offer M22 Challenge participants their special Spring Rates for the event weekend. For more information, visit:

The Cottonwood Inn Bed and Breakfast is located in the heart of Sleeping Bear Dunes. Surrounded by giant cottonwoods it has all the ambiance you would expect from a historical farm house, including three rambling porches and the perfect red barn. For more information, visit:



Be prepared for 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 the provided shuttle service, or park at 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. 

  • 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.

Shuttle Service

Shuttle service begins at 6am from the M22 store at 6298 Western Ave. (M22) in Glen Arbor MI. The shuttle returns every 15 minutes, making this an effortless way to get to and from the event site. 


Parking Fees

The M22 Challenge takes place within the boundaries of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. For this reason all participants and spectators must have a National Park Entrance Pass. For private vehicles, the pass is $25 and covers everyone riding in the vehicle. All passes are valid for 7-days. An Annual Park Entrance Pass for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is also available for $45. 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.


Please park downtown Glen Arbor and take the shuttle from the M22 shop to the event site.

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.





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.


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.


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

Tips from the Pros