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Grand Island Trail Marathon


Grand Island

Trail Marathon & Half Marathon

Grand Island National Recreation Area, Munising, Michigan
July 25, 2015


Trail Runner Magazine named the Grand Island Trail Marathon to its Top 21 Destination Races for 2015.  See the entire article.  The author, Paul Cuno-Booth, names 3-5 races for each region of the country.  Four races were named from the Midwest including the Grand Island Trail Marathon, The Ice Age Tail Run (La Grange, WI), Free State Trail Run (Lawrence, KS) and the Mines of Spain Half Marathon (Dubuque, IA).


"The water of Lake Superior is as clear and aqua blue as the Caribbean, with the kind of crystalline quality that lures you to cleanse yourself in its frigid embrace. You imagine you could walk right in and just just keep walking along the rock-strewn bottom in a beautiful blue purity."

Bonnie Algera, Marathon Finisher

 2015 Results

Click here to go the results page


Packet Pick Up

Where: Holiday Inn Express Lakeview, Munising, MI
When: Friday, July 24 3:00 to 9:00 p.m.
There is no race day packet pick up. Plan accordingly. If you will not be able to make it to packet pick up, make arrangements to have someone pick up for you.

Information Downloads

Gear Checklist

Bus Schedule

Pre-Race Instructions

Travel & Lodging

Nearest Airport: Marquette, MI (also know as KI Sawyer International) one hour drive time
Host Hotel:
Holiday Inn Express Lakeview, Munising, MI (overlooking Grand Island).
Reservations recommended: 906.387.4800
Chamber of Commerce:
Chamber of Commerce Website:
Please be advised. The drive from Detroit to Munising is at least seven (7) hours.



The course follows the perimeter trail of the island counterclockwise up past Murray Bay and Duck Lake. At three miles the course heads eastward into the Tombolo, up into the island's thumb and then back along Trout Bay where runners can enjoy one of the most spectacular stretches of shoreline anywhere in the Great Lakes. Runners then ascend up the eastern cliffs of the island which treat runners to views of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The northern half of the island features 300 ft colored Jacobsville sandstone cliffs and the remote and exquisitely beautiful North Beach. The return trail on the island's western shore features remarkable vistas of Lake Superior. Much of the trail is shaded by lush hardwood forests. Exposed sections (atop cliffs) blanket runners with cool breezes off of Lake Superior. Trail includes single track, two track, and narrow dirt roads. The course is well marked with colored flags, directional arrows, and mile markers.

The marathon will have a two wave start. Runners who expect to finish in over 5 hours must start in wave 1 (6:00 a.m.). Runners in wave 1 will receive a finisher medallion but not an age group award.

Runners who expect to finish in less than 5 hours will start in wave 2 (7:00 a.m.). Indicate your wave start during online registration.

Please note: This is a trail marathon on a wilderness island. Do not expect large numbers of spectators and loud music. Expect extraordinarily beautiful views of Lake Superior.

Marathon Start: Wave 1: 6:00AM Wave 2: 7:00AM (Eastern Time Zone)
Saturday, July 25, 2015, Williams Landing.


Half Marathon

The half marathon course is a scenic loop that takes runners northeast up along Murray Bay and Duck Lake and then heads eastward into the tombolo. At four miles runners head back westward on the Trout Bay Beach. Runners then ascend inland to the heavily forested highlands of the island's interior. When runners reach Echo Lake they head toward the western coastal trail and rejoin the marathon course (22 mile mark of the marathon). The remainder of the course follows the west coast of the island on a gradual downhill back to William's Landing and the finish.
Half Marathon Start: 8:00 a.m. Saturday, July 25, 2015


Profile Map

Aid Stations

The marathon will have five aid stations at 4, 7, 11, 16, and 22 miles. The half marathon will have two aid stations at 4 and 9 miles. All runners are required to carry a 20 oz water bottle or other functional hydration system which they can refill at each station. Aid station volunteers will have large pitchers with cold water and cold HEED (Hammer Nutrition) energy drink with electrolytes and will quickly refill your bottle or hydration system. Hammer Gel and Endurolytes will also be available at each aid station.

Time Limits

There is a six hour time limit for the marathon. This is strictly enforced due to safety reasons and the remote nature of the race course. Do not register if you cannot finish within six hours. If you expect to finish in over 5 hours sign up for a wave 1 early start (6:00 a.m.) Aid stations will close at times listed in the table below. Those runners who decide to drop out of the race are advised to drop out at an aid station where transportation back to William's Landing will be available. A sweep mountain bike rider with a radio will follow the last runner throughout the marathon.

Marathon Aid Station Closing Times

Station4 & 7 Mile11 Mile16 Mile22 Mile
Closing Time
9:00 AM
10:00 AM
11:00 AM
12:00 Noon

There is a four hour time limit for the half marathon. Please note the aid station closing times below.

Half Marathon Aid Station Closing Times

Station4 Mile9 Mile
Closing Time
9:00 AM
11:00 AM

Race Fees

Race fees include:

  1. Roundtrip bus transportation.
  2. Roundtrip ferry boat.
  3. Custom Eco-tech race shirt. (Must register by July 11, 2015)
  4. Post race refreshments.

Grand Island Trail Run Fee Schedule

EventUntil 1:00 a.m.
February 1, 2015
Until 1:00 a.m.
March 1, 2015
Until 1:00 a.m.
July 12, 2015
Extra Ferry Boat Tickets
Half Marathon

Online registration for all events ends at 1:00 a.m. on July 12, 2015 (or earlier if event reaches capacity, whichever comes first).

Refund & Transfer Policy

No refunds. This means that once you have registered your entry fee will not be refunded for any reason by Great Lakes Endurance. offers entry fee insurance.
No participant transfers. This means that you may not transfer your entry to anyone else.
No year to year transfers. This means that you cannot transfer your entry to any future events.
Event transfers. You may transfer from the marathon to the half marathon until July 23, 2015. Email the race director ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) to request an event change.
There are no refunds for entry fee differences between events.
Please note: Personal checks will no longer be accepted by Great Lakes Endurance.

Transportation to the Island

Runners will be transported to the ferry boat dock from their hotel or campground via shuttle bus. The shuttle bus schedule is available online. 

Link to bus schedule

Runners not staying in Munising may pick up the shuttle bus at Munising High School. Do not park at the boat dock. The parking area is small and parking spaces need to be available for the many volunteers on Grand Island on race day.

Your race number serves as your shuttle bus pass. A ferry boat will transport runners from the boat dock to Grand Island. The first boat will leave at 5:10AM and will travel back and forth.
Wave 1 runners and volunteers will take the earliest departing boats. Wave 2, half marathon runners and spectators will travel on subsequent departures. The ferry boat only takes about 10 minutes to reach the island.

After the race, runners/spectators will board the ferry back to the mainland. Buses will run until early afternoon and will transport you back to your hotel or campground.

Extra ferry boat tickets are available for $20 each and available for purchase on-line or at packet pick up. If you purchase extra ferry boat ticket(s) when you register online, your pre-purchased ferry boat ticket(s) will be at packet pick up. This ferry boat ticket is also a shuttle bus pass.

Age Groups

EventAge Groups
15-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70+
Half Marathon
15-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70+


EventOverall Male & FemaleTop Three in Each Age GroupAll Runners
Marathon & Half Marathon
Glasswork by artist Rick Shapero
Hand blown glass medallion by artist Rick Shapero
Ceramic finisher medallion &
Greenlayer Eco-tech Shirt

(Must register by July 11, 2015 for shirt)

Creating a Positive Experience

Grand Island is an extraordinary place. The course is challenging and requires runners to be well trained. If you are not well trained, do not register for this event. The logistics of transportation to and from the island are well planned to ensure smooth progress of passengers. But this requires runners to be on time for the shuttle bus and ferry boat departures. The best option is to arrive early. If you fail to make the boat, you start late. Important race information is available and should read, review, and study each. The critical information is found in three documents: 1) Race information, 2) Bus Schedule, and 3) Gear Checklist. These documents can be downloaded by clicking on the hyperlinked text. If necessary, print them and bring them with you. These documents will also be posted at packet pick up. Bring a 20 oz water bottle or refillable hydration system with you as it is required in the marathon and half marathon. This measure is implemented on both ecological and functional grounds. Aid stations can be up to 5-6 miles apart on this wilderness island, so the refillable water bottle will help ensure you have adequate fluids & energy between aid stations.


If you leave litter on the trails or leave trash on Grand Island you will be disqualified. Do not expect to find trash containers on Grand Island. Grand Island is a pack in/pack out wilderness area. Whatever you bring to the island, you must take back with you, including all your trash. The PortaJohns are a human waste disposal, not garbage containers. If you do not agree with these policies, do not register for this event.

Gear Storage on the Island

There will be a large tent near the start/finish area to store your gear. The tent area is not patrolled. Great Lakes Endurance is not responsible for lost or stolen items. Gear left in the tent area will not be mailed back to you. Be sure to check this area for your belongings before you board the ferry boat back to the mainland.


For runner safety, bikes are not allowed on the course during the race (except for GLE volunteers). Spectators who wish to ride bikes can use the internal forest roads to access several points on the marathon and half marathon course, but must remain off the actual running course at all times. Failure to abide by this policy will result in the runner the biker is spectating a disqualification.


Dogs are allowed on the ferry boat and the start/finish area, but not on the race course. Dogs must be current on rabies and all other vaccinations. Dogs may not be left unattended at any time, must be quiet, and on a leash no more than 6 foot. All animal waste must be picked up and removed from the island.

iPods/MP3 Players

For runner safety, we advise against the use of iPods and MP3 players.

Environmental Measures

  1. Each runner must carry a 20 oz water bottle or other functional hydration system. Cups are not available at the aid stations along the course. At each aid station runners can have their bottle or hydration system refilled quickly with either cold water or cold HEED via a pitcher poured by a GLE volunteer. This is a superior system on ecological grounds, however, we have found it results in less spillage and better hydration for runners (they have access to fluid between aid stations).
  2. Shirts for all events are made from 100% recycled polyester. Our shirts sponsor is Greenlayer of Portland, Oregon.
  3. Public transportation is provided for all runners and spectators. You will be shuttled, round trip from your hotel or campground and transported to the ferry boat dock and back. If you are not staying local, there is a bus stop at Munising High School.
  4. Foods served after the marathon are either locally produced, organically grown, or both.
  5. Finisher medallions are made by artist, John Wilson from maple hardwoods harvested from the upper Great Lakes. Glass medallions are made by local artist, Rick Shapero.
  6. Food waste is composted and all other materials are recycled.
  7. Course is marked with reusable flags that are removed after the event.
  8. A donation from this event supports native plant restoration on Grand Island and maintenance of silent sport recreation trails in the Munising area.