For 2023, we are doing a little from the past and also some new legs that we've never used before. Unlike last year's Day 1 racetrack, expect this year to be significantly different (read "different" as "grueling"). The goal is to run nearly all of the High Country Pathway (HCP) during the first two days. Here is our proposed plan that is awaiting official approval. We do not anticipate many significant changes and so use this info as you begin the planning for 2023!
Day 1 will be starting about 15 miles east of Grayling. The first 40 miles will travel north on some backroads and then connect to the Midland-Mackinaw Trail. The next 40 miles will be spent on the High Country Pathway. This is a fairly challenging trail to run. While the trail is marked with blue dots, there is dense vegetation in some spots and no vegetation at all in other spots! Both situations make it challenging to follow the markings. Runners will get to experience The Swamp Run in this section! The last 20 miles will leave the HCP after crossing M-33 and then head to Millersburg. Since we are heading that way, we decided that it would only be appropriate if we finished on the sandy and hilly Tommy Toyota leg! Teams will be able to camp at Onaway High School at the end of Day 1.
Day 2 will be starting just west of Onaway. It will head back south, and reconnect to the HCP. Instead of doing an out and back like we've done in past years, we will continue on the trail and finish the HCP loop (mostly). This is a new day for the relay. This part of the HCP is no better than the first half, which makes it pretty awesome. One of the features of this day is the run up Rattlesnake Hill. Its probably one of the loosest applications of the word "Hill". The good news is that the poor soul that runs this leg will get a spectacular view once they make it to the top. Too bad they'll be too exhausted to enjoy it. We will be on the HCP for the first 40 miles of the day. After that we make our way back south to Grayling, with our traditional finish at Pointe North Motel of Grayling. There will be camping available at Grayling HS.
Day 3 is our historic finish to Empire. We will start about 20 miles west of Grayling. For those that are new to the race, this is the shortest day of the weekend. We like to get everyone to the finish in a timely manner so that we can do dinner, celebrations, and awards. This day sticks to the backroads (some paved), passes through Fife Lake, Ann Lake, and then finally in Empire. Here, teams can end the weekend by soaking themselves in Lake Michigan and celebrate the accomplishment of surviving the weekend!