Whitefish Point Marathon- Recap

I signed up for this race, because my friends did. Bottom line. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t super excited about such a small race and potentially running an entire marathon alone/with little support.

The main thing that got me to sign up was the loss of a friend earlier this year, and I more or less signed up for a weekend of camping, fun, and adventure than I did for a marathon.

I.regret.noting.

Let’s talk specifics about the race.

Where:

Paradise Michigan, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.). Don’t let what you’ve heard about the U.P. Fool you – it is an awesome, and gorgeous place. Paradise is not a big town, the packet pick up, post race, and start line are all at the Paradise community center (technically the start line is across the street).

When:

It’s the second weekend of June, by U.P. Standards this will typically mean for cooler temps then what you will get downstate. Pre-race temps this year were in the mid-to-low 50’s very comfortable. Additionally the course is tree lined and did an excellent job of shielding you from a lot of sun.

Cost:

Early bird pricing from fall to end of January is $40 (if I recall correctly) and after that it’s $50, and I think there is a May cut off where it jumps to $60.

Yes, you did read that correctly $40 for a full marathon.

Also, don’t let the price tag fool you – it’s not a “cheap” marathon, it’s well executed, well supported and fun. More on that to come.

Logistics:

Our group was comprised of 10 people, we stayed at the Tahquamenon Falls State Park (River Mouth) outside of Paradise, it was about a 10 minute drive to the community center, and you could actually park at the community center or across the street the day of the marathon. It was seriously amazing. I noted 1 motel in town, and outside of that and camping I heard a few people either stayed further away and drove in or rented cabins.

Course Logistics:

You start and finish at the Paradise Community Center, the course is an out and back with a few little off chutes to get some different scenery and I assume add mileage. Aid stations were spaced out anywhere from 1.5, to 2 ish miles apart, with water and electrolyte drink at each station. With it starting in Paradise you run up to the point to the Shipwreck Museum, and turn around and head back down.

This year I think approximately 75 people raced.

Other things you need to know:

  • Packet pick up is just that, it is not an expo, make sure you pack all of your gels, chargers, headphones, etc
  • Pack bug spray, plan to use it. Leading up to the race we received several informational emails regarding race day tips, etc One of the last ones indicated the usefulness of bug spray – as the mosquitos were starting to amp up. The day of the race the race director reinforced this – even stating they were as bad as he’d ever seen them. When a Yooper (resident of the Upper Peninsula) complains you know you should have packed bug spray. I did bum some off of someone smarter than me, and it helped. I also sprayed more on around mile 18 in case I had to walk. They didn’t really bother me while I was running, but in some spots I wouldn’t have dared walked through an aid station because they were so bad. Some of the volunteers had full head nets and gloves on to keep their skin covered.
  • While the race is small it is mighty. There were plenty of volunteers, plenty of aid stations, plenty of everything.
  • It is USTAF certified, therefore it is a Boston Qualifier course – it’s a pretty decent course to BQ on if you’re trying for that, considering the time of year, and flat terrain.
  • Post Race:
  • Your bib gets you a pasty and a cold drink upon completion, your bib also you get’s you entered into a raffle for door prizes (which was my favorite part). The door prizes were everything from tickets to the Shipwreck Museum, to Menards Mugs, to handmade lamps. Someone in our group described the raffle as being like a guest at someone else’s family reunion. I couldn’t agree more, but in the nicest possible way. It was just really sweet and personal, it is the complete other end of the spectrum of a race like Chicago, or NYC.
  • Everyone from our group won something.
  • To add to this feeling of sentiment, about a month after the race I, along with a few of my friends, received an email from the race director with a picture of me at the finish that either a local or a spectator (or both) took. Someone clearly took the time to go through and match the bibs with the runner and send out pictures.
  • It just doesn’t get more thoughtful.
  • In addition to door prizes, they give out medals for first time marathoners, awards for overall and 1 & 2 in each age group, and special mugs for anyone who runs a Boston Qualifying time, and all finishers received a medal as well (they were actually rocks, and super unique).
  • 2nd place in my age group, and first time ever placing in a marathon. Honestly the whole experience was just AWESOME
  • I think it’s pretty clear I would recommend this race, I would also personally sign up again. A few other things worth noting – only the marathon distance is offered. One important consideration I would emphasize is assessing how well you run alone. If this is something of particular concern for you I would focus on doing more training runs alone.
  • Personally this is how I mentally prepared for this race. I planned to be alone for 26.2 miles – I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case. I did 2-3 runs each week alone, and I did that on purpose, to get more comfortable with training myself how to essentially talk myself down from points of frustration. Mindset was huge for me personally in this race, if you’re used to big big races, where there are runners everywhere, and spectators in 2 deep rows along the course you may want to consider focusing on this as well as part of your training.
  • On a personal note, I ran a personal best in a very big way. I’m going to write more about that in another post because I want to dive into the training program I used. I shaved off about 24 minutes from my time though.
  • In closing, congratulations to everyone who finished, and thank-you to WPM for putting on such a great event!
  • Friendly reminder that all opinions are my own, and I paid for my race entry.
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