The 26th annual Great Lakes Relay is in the books. For the first time the course ran entirely in the Upper Peninsula. The race was dominated by Nondescript & Inoffensive which won the open division. The mixed division was won by Bernie's Brigade.
For the first time in the race's history, we had a runner lost on the trails overnight. The search started out with the race directors working with the course marshal crew and the Tahquamenon Falls Park employees searching the trails. When that failed, the State Police were called in who mobilized county and state resources to search on foot, with a canine unit, as well as with four wheelers. At the same time many race teams searched the surrounding roads and lined up on a county road honking their horns to let our lost runner, Renee, know we were out looking for her. The state and county resources continued their search into the early morning hours. Having still not located Renee the third day of the race was cancelled so that as many runners as possible could be mobilized as a massive search team. One of the GLR crew teams was sent out to re-run a leg just after daybreak. On their way out they encountered a young lady running north on the road. It was Renee! She had spent the night in a tree and at daybreak found her way out to the road. After reuniting Renee with her family the teams were asked if they would like to finish the race. After a loud YES, the race started an hour and a half after the scheduled start time.
Renee's family and the entire GLR crew would like to thank the Tahquamenon Falls DNR staff, Luce County Sheriff Department, Luce County Search and Rescue Crew, and the Michigan State Police for their efforts throughout the night. Bad things happen in this world but sometimes things happen that restore our faith in humanity. One of those things happened Saturday night into Sunday morning. The running community can be a competitive group but also a caring group that would do anything for one of its own. We saw that single minded determination as teams mobilized as a huge group to do whatever it took to find Renee. The race didn't matter as much as finding Renee. It was a humbling and emotional sight to see the caring character of so many runners willing to cover every inch of the woods to find Renee.
Renee, as a 17 year old alone in the woods, made some great choices when she got lost to improve her chances of being found. Her courage and attitude was an inspiration as well.
We look forward to another memorable GLR in 2018 but this one may be hard to top! Stay tuned for details in the fall. We hope to have an announcement that will make the 2018 GLR our most memorable to date!
The race is run with the help of our friends at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the United State Forest Service.
Apparently there is a third trophy for the race that we just found out about.
Julia Winter, captain of The Gingerbread Girls wrote a blog that captures the essence of the relay. Follow this link to read her blog.