Training in Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Program

October 13th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By: Sean Siems

Hello, my name is Sean Siems. I am 13 years old. I go to St. Augustine and I’m in the 8th grade. I started doing triathlons because my dad introduced them to me when I was around 9 or 10.

In the past, training wasn’t something I gave much thought to. We always just raced. All of that changed this year!

This year I had the opportunity to join the Youth Triathlon Team at Athletic Mentors. Our goal was to train for and race the Grand Rapids Triathlon super sprint distance and Athletic Mentors private race at Gull Lake. The coaches at Athletic Mentors set up a Youth Triathlon Program for us to follow and also held group training sessions at various locations depending on which discipline we were focusing on that day. We had coaches swim, bike and run with us in order to keep us safe in the water and on the road. They also encouraged us to do our best and helped push us along.

As it turns out, training for triathlons is just as fun as racing them. I have done five triathlons. The first three were the Shermanator. The fourth one was the Grand Rapids Triathlon. The last one was the AM triathlon at Gull Lake where we raced with adults. So far I am enjoying triathlons and I hope to keep doing more in the future and eventually do an Ironman.

The post Training in Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Program appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.


Training for Life from a Young Triathlete

October 11th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By Kellen Siems

Hello, my name is Kellen and I am in the 7th grade. I have done 5 triathlons and I’m on the Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Team. I play soccer, tennis, and I swim and ski.

I do triathlons because my parents want me to be active. They also help me to be more athletic, which makes me better in the other sports that I play. Not to mention, it’s also a lot of fun!

My favorite triathlon was the Grand Rapids Triathlon. There were many members of Team Athletic Mentors there both racing and cheering us on. It was a pretty big race so I was nervous. My brother and twin sister are on the team too, so that helped. If you have ever raced anything before then you know that as soon as it starts, all the nervous feelings go away. All that’s left is to focus and enjoy the race.

My goal one day is to do an Ironman and be fast. I also want to be able to do triathlons more easily. That will come with more practice. Most important though, the training involved in racing triathlons will help me lead a fit and healthy lifestyle.

The post Training for Life from a Young Triathlete appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.


Joining a Triathlon Team at 12 years old

October 8th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By: Brie Siems

Hello, my name is Brie Siems. I am 12 years old. This year I completed my first season on the Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Team. After a long delay due to the pandemic, it was nice to finally be part of the team. Although I have raced many triathlons already, this year was my first experience with a structured program geared toward racing.  As a group we trained together as well as followed a plan individually throughout the weeks leading up to our race. Our training included the usual swimming, biking and running but also some exercises to strengthen our core.  This year the Youth team raced the Grand Rapids Triathlon. We focused on the super sprint distance because we are all pretty young still. The distances were 200 yard swim, 6 mile bike and 1.5 mile run.

My 2 brothers are also on the team. The nice thing about racing with a team is that although triathlon is an individual sport, being part of a team helps us all to be our best. It is also nice to see teammates before and after the race and to cheer each other on.

I love to do sports and activities too. Some of the sports I did this year are soccer, tennis, swimming, skiing/snowboarding and cross country. I have been playing piano for 6 years and love it!

I started doing triathlons because my parents wanted me to become an athlete. My dad also does triathlons so I guess it was only natural. My dad actually said that when my brothers and I are 18, he would be watching us do an Ironman triathlon. I joined the triathlon group here at Athletic Mentors to help myself become a better athlete. Currently, I go to school at St. Augustine Cathedral School. I am doing this strength and conditioning program to help myself become strong and better at running. I am looking forward to becoming a better athlete

The post Joining a Triathlon Team at 12 years old appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.


Taking Triathlon Off Road

September 30th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson
By:  Kathy Braginton Are you a triathlete looking to spice up your triathlon race?  Or, maybe you are a cyclist with a gravel/mountain bike thinking about trying a triathlon?  With their latest event that made its debut this past weekend, the race directors of GR Tri and MiTi have found the solution: The Dirty Mitten.  It was composed of a swim, gravel bike and trail run that spanned over the grounds of the YMCA’s Camp Manitou-Lin in Middleville, Michigan.  The Dirty Mitten featured both sprint and olympic distances, also known as the Shorty and the Long One.  You don’t like to swim or run?  No problem!  This race also offered Duathlon (run/bike/run), Aquabike (swim/bike), and Relay options!   The swim distances were advertised as a 750m swim for the Shorty and a 1500m swim for the Long One.  The placement of buoys for these race directors at their events this year has turned into a amusing comedy of mishaps, so why would The Dirty Mitten be any different? That being said, the Shorty swim was anywhere from 600 – 700 yards.  (There is some  question as to how straight the author of this blog really swam.)  The Long One was 2 loops of the Shorty course.  I’ve heard reports that it was approximately 1100 yards.  With the water temp at 68 degrees and the air temp in the 50’s, there were no complaints on the swim distances being a tad short for both races.  As with most triathlons now, the swim start was a “time-trial start” with athletes entering the water 2 at a time every 5 seconds. The bike course for the Shorty was a 14 mile route out and back with about 4 miles of paved roads and the rest gravel.  The gravel portion was hard packed and rolling with 450 ft of elevation according to my Garmin.  The bike course for the Long One was another story.  If you are familiar with Barry Roubaix, all I have to say is “The Wall", “Graveyard Climb”, and “Sager” and you’ve got the idea.  It was 32 miles and 1900 feet of climbing.  I’m told it even included an added feature that required you to climb off your bike and hop over a tree. As a competitor in the Shorty distance, I found the run to be the most challenging leg of the race.  It was a mix of trail, gravel and field with a 170ish feet of elevation gain.  The field consisted of tall grass that had been driven enough to create a path.  The trail portion was partial horse trail which meant some uneven terrain and the occasional “road apple”.  I ran in my regular running shoes, but I wished I’d owned a pair of trail shoes for this event.  The Shorty duathletes and the Long Ones ran 2 laps of the Shorty course.  If you were doing the Long One duathlon, that made 3 laps total!  Yikes!  The distances were approximate, but again, there were no complaints with it being a tad short. With the laid back atmosphere of this race, it was especially fun to participate.  Transition never truly “closed”.  This was especially appreciated by those doing the Shorty with an hour wait from the start of the Long One until the start of the Shorty.  It allowed us to keep our warmer clothes on for as long as possible.  Plus, we could cheer from transition for all the Long Ones during their T1.  As a seasoned triathlete, I found the wide array of bikes in transition rather amusing.  There truly were all shapes and sizes of bikes in attendance and suitable for this race.  This was a USAT sanctioned race, but there were no officials (that I saw) at the race site or out on the course.  There was some question as to whether or not drafting was allowed on the bike.  Nowhere in the athlete guide could I find anything that said this was NOT a draft legal race.  I have to admit I may have taken advantage of a wheel or 2.   With this race being a sell out in its inagural year, you won’t want to delay when registration opens for 2022!  It was a great opportunity to conclude the multisport season on a high note! *Photo credits to Team Stellafly and Terry Hutchins The post Taking Triathlon Off Road appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.

Racing and Riding as Part of a Team

September 29th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Jonathan Meyer

My name is Jonathan Meyer, and I am going into my junior year of high school and have just joined Team Athletic Mentors. Prior to this, the only team I raced with was my Lake Orion High School team, which is only really in effect during the fall season when the Michigan Scholastic Cycling Association mountain bike race series takes place. Outside of this time, there is not much support or action from the high school team, so for the most part I was alone, outside of my parents. That being said, I still enjoy being a part of my MISCA team very much.

Shortly after starting my sophomore year, a member of Team Athletic Mentors that I raced with during the school season recommended that I apply to the team. I thought, “Sure why not? It would be nice to be part of a team for the rest of the year other than the fall.” After that I filled out and submitted an application, and then had an interview for the team with Mr. Terry Ritter. After that I attended the team zoom meeting and then my first race as part of the team!

The first race I did was the Dirty Thirty gravel race, and despite being a brand-new member of the team, everybody was really friendly and talked to me before, during, and after the race. It was really cool!

Then, after that, I participated in my first team event other than a race, which was a youth development team ride beginning at Kensington Metropark and riding to Island Lake Recreation Area. During this ride I got to ride with and get to know many of the other juniors on the team better, and it was really fun! Usually in the spring and summer I have to do all of my rides alone. But now I’m on a team with riders that are similar speeds and even faster than I am! It’s much more fun and exciting than riding alone.

I have participated in ten races this year as part of Team Athletic Mentors, but one of these stands out above the others: The Cowpie Classic gravel race. I had been looking forward to this race for most of the preceding month, and when the day came, I felt well prepared and ready to race! During the race director’s talk before the start, they informed us that there were heavy storms in the area the night before, and racers should watch out for fallen branches and debris on the road. With that in mind, the race started and I managed to stay with the lead group all the way going into a section through a farm and the woods where I dropped my chain after hitting a big hole at the bottom of a downhill. Despite that, I caught back up to the front of the race besides a small breakaway that went up the road.

Throughout the race, all the way up to about mile 30, we kept seeing small pieces of tree or branches on the side of the road. At mile 30, I was in a group of about 20 other racers including Mr. Ritter, Ross DiFalco and Jared Dunham. The group crested a hill and started going down a large descent at about 25 mph. This road was covered in branches and leaves, and right in front of me, as I would learn in about 3 and a half seconds, there was a very big log in the middle of the road. It was about five inches in diameter. Before I knew what was happening, I had hit the log and had hit the ground and slid about ten feet from where I originally impacted. Mr. Ritter said that after I hit the log there was a loud cracking noise, which I later learned was my rim breaking. After I crashed, Mr. Ritter, Jared, and Ross had all stopped to see if I was okay. Mr. Ritter waited with me until my dad got there to call for help, and Ross waited with me all the way until we walked to an intersection where I could be picked up by a family friend. The support I received in the race before the crash, after the crash, after the race, and resolving the complications that occurred as a result of the crash was incredible. I am very grateful for the help of all my teammates and Team Athletic Mentors as a whole to get me and my bike patched up again after my crash.

Team Athletic Mentors has also provided me with the resources and coaching to improve my riding and help achieve my goals in the sport. Recently, I have started learning and training with Mr. Ritter as my coach and I am very excited to see where that takes me.

In summary, from my time as a member of Team Athletic Mentors I have learned that with your riding and your racing, teammates first and foremost can provide vital support and encouragement, and also add an extra element of fun and enjoyment to your time on a bike, or anywhere else for that matter.

The post Racing and Riding as Part of a Team appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.


The 4 F’s of a Successful Triathlon Season (without using the F-word)

September 20th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Belinda Vinton

I have been racing triathlon for 10 years. Some seasons have been more successful than others! So how can an athlete prepare for a successful season? Besides spending time swimming, biking, and running, here are 4 ways to help make your season a good one.

Focus – Carve out some time each day to workout. Concentrate on upcoming races. Set some goals for yourself. It always helps me to write out my goals and put them in a place where I can see them each day. Read books about triathlon. Join a triathlon Facebook group and follow some triathletes on social media. You will find that your focus on the sport will improve!

Follow the plan – Find a training plan that works for you. I worked with a triathlon coach through  Athletic Mentors. My workouts were well defined and specific to my needs. I could see the improvements by knowing exactly what I needed to work on each day.

 

Fair/Foul weather – Although I am definitely a fair weather athlete, don’t let the weather control you. It’s important to plan for the worst. You may have to race in rain, heat, cold…in Michigan it’s hard to know! So practice for those situations. Know what to do on a hot day. Know how you will be successful through rain. Hope for the best, but don’t let the weather ruin your day.

 

Friendships – Find someone who has the same love of the sport as you do! Join a club or a team. Find folks at the gym who you can meet for a workout. Maybe you have a swim buddy, a biking partner, and someone who loves to run. Even if they don’t want to compete in all three, you’ll always have someone who wants to join you. Triathlon can be a lonely sport, so find those friends! 

The post The 4 F’s of a Successful Triathlon Season (without using the F-word) appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.


Canoeing the Au Sable River – Part 2

September 13th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Ross DiFalco

Day 3

We were off! After you cross the 4001 bridge, you are officially in the Huron National Forest. It’s hillier in this section and you see a lot less homes. I don’t know if we were canoeing ourselves into shape, but we felt the best on day 3. The only problem is that we were running low on water, and now that we were in the Huron National Forest, it would be harder to come by. Today we needed to make it to just before the loud dam. Between that dam and us was 28 miles and one more dam, the Alcona. When we reached the Alcona, it was a more difficult portage. There was construction, so there was a temporary portage set up. We had to pick the boat up over a 3ft seawall, pull the boat up the levy, and then go about 400 yards down a hill back to the water. It was not ideal. The red line is where the portage is supposed to be, and the yellow line is where the re-route took us. The other thing we were quickly learning was that dam sections were bad for making progress. Portaging was slow, but the real killer is the massive lake sections that lead up to them. The river widens for 3-4 miles before each dam and there is no current to help you along.

After we had been paddling for a while again, we started to reach water that is more stagnant. The river was marshy and wide. As we paddled along, looking forward to having 5 miles to go, we heard some yelling from the bank. As we looked closer, it turns out my mom and a friend were waiting on the riverbank for us to go by. As we get to the bank, I realize this is not a coincidence. Due to the fact that we had lost cell service for the last two days, my family was concerned for our well-being. My mom started by calling the forest service to ask if they could go look for us. Turns out, they can, but it costs $10,000. The second best thing was to wait by the river for us to go by. After proving that we were okay, it was time to get back on the river. Having stopped was a blessing in disguise, we were able to get two gallons of water that we desperately needed. We also offloaded anything we didn’t need any more to reduce weight.

Paddling again! The rest of the way was slow going but we got there with plenty of time. The campsites in this area are all about a ¼ mile apart and have a small number plate indicating which campsite that you reserved. The wind was ripping across the lake and we had to paddle as hard as we could to overcome the drag. The drag in a canoe seems much worse than when cycling. Once we made it to our campsite, it was completely worth the wait. The campsites at Loud Dam are incredible! This was our best campsite by far. They are only accessible by water and you feel like you have the place to yourself. There was a nice fire ring with grilling attachment and we even had a stack of cut firewood.

Day 4

Day 4 was easily going to be the hardest. We had learned that three things made it difficult to canoe. Portaging, lake sections and wind. On day 4 we had plenty of all three. There were 4 dams, it was almost all lake sections, and the wind that kicked up the day before was still going in the wrong direction. We were determined, but the unseasonably hot weather and long mileage was starting to take its toll on us. We portaged the Loud Dam right off the bat. This was an easy portage because of the canoe wheels we used. You put the wheels on and walk with the canoe on the boat launch road that was provided.

If you were going to canoe any section of the river, I would do the upper sections. This section is much more akin to being on a large lake. It’s still very nice and you rarely see other people. You will see many more motorized boats in this section. Some people training for the River Canoe Marathon also passed us. People do the entire 120 miles in 14 hours. I do not know how it’s even possible to go that fast, but it’s incredibly impressive! I had dreams of trying it, but I now have zero desire to try.

As the day progressed, we went over the Five Channels and Cooke dams and continued to chug along. The wind remained in our face and we were working harder the last day than we worked on any other day. If you have ever been to Lumberman’s Monument, we were paddling past this section of the river when we realized we had cell service. At this point, we had to decide if we wanted to make it to Oscoda or cut it early and end at the Foote Dam. We decided that we had enough fun and were going to get picked up at the next dam. This was the best decision we made. Foot Pond is massive and the wind had really picked up, and we had lightning and thunder. The boat was rocking all over the place and we didn’t feel safe in an aluminum canoe, in the middle of a lake during a thunderstorm.

Tips/Advice

  • Plan and try your canoe before doing a trip – see how fast you can comfortably travel
  • Canoe wheels are worth it if you portage
  • Tie down all of your stuff
  • Pull food into trees at night – we made some raccoon friends
  • Create an itinerary and let people know where you are going to be (having a satellite phone would be useful too)
  • Know where food and water sources are
  • Have a working water purifier and have iodine as a backup
  • Don’t bring fishing gear if you aren’t going to use it often
  • Put sunscreen on often
  • Check the flow of the river before going – the river was down and was moving slower
  • I would recommend doing no more than 20 miles a day if you want to have maximum fun

Reflection

It’s a beautiful place out there. This river is vastly underutilized. If you want to go on an adventure, I would highly recommend it. Despite our blunders, I will have these memories the rest of my life. Learn from our errors and limit travels to a reasonable distance and enjoy the time on the river.

The post Canoeing the Au Sable River – Part 2 appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.


Canoeing the Au Sable River

September 8th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Ross DiFalco 

For those of you that don’t know, in northern Michigan there lies a beautiful winding river with an incredible amount of wildlife and diversity. The Au Sable is a fly angler’s paradise, and is professionally managed to keep it that way. The other reason that people know of the Au Sable River is for the Au Sable Canoe Marathon that takes place each year in July. The Marathon, as it’s commonly called, is a 120 mile canoe race from Grayling to Oscoda. This is where our story begins, kind of.

My dad has wanted to canoe the entire length of the Au Sable since he was a kid. This spring, he asked me if I would join him on an adventure to make that dream a reality. Given that I love being active and outdoors, I said yes without hesitation. We both talked a big talk and decided we would train for this trip, and even do some over-night excursions to be acclimated with paddling all day. Fast forward until 3 weeks before our trip, none of this has transpired (we didn’t even have a canoe yet!). This is where the canoe marathon starts to become important. I started researching how much time I needed to take off work, and my source of data happened to come from ex racers. Here is the data I used to prepare: 

  • Speed – river 3mph   – canoe 5.5mph (estimated)         
  • Estimated daily travel- 5 hours at 5.5m/h = 27.5mi 
  • Current river temp- 59 degrees                                                 Total Length- 138mi           
  • River race length- 120 river race time 14:17 (2018)              Race speed – 8.5mph 

Based on the research, we planned for a 4 day (3 night) trip to do 115-120 miles of the river. We figured if the river were flowing at 3mph, then we would have to average a normalized 2.5mph to maintain our estimated speed of 5.5 mph. In order to complete the trip we would need to average about 27-28 miles a day to stay on track, and that puts us at 5 hours moving time. We even discussed worse case scenarios, which we thought was no paddling and floating down the river at 3mph (10 hours in the canoe). I even mapped out where food was along the river so we could go get new things to eat along the way.

What to bring? We made the excellent decision to borrow a bunch of dry bags. If you do any canoe/kayak trips, get dry bags. We each brought a sleeping bag, camping mattress, camping pillow, 64oz bottle, and clothes. Collectively we had a tent, 6 dehydrated meals, bagels, peanut butter, jelly, protein pars, fruit bars, a backpacking stove, knife, flashlight, battery back (solar), two ropes, and some canoe wheels picked up on Amazon. We even brought some fishing poles and gear. One of our most valuable items ended up being canoe backrests and instead of lifejackets, we brought floating cushions to serve dual purpose. All of this fit in our borrowed 15’ Michicraft Canoe that was from the late 60’s or so. All in, our setup was probably about 180-200 lbs. 

  •  Day 1 

Here we GOOOO! Day 1 was Friday 6-4 and it was gorgeous weather. We started in downtown Grayling, the sun was shining, and we had a high of 84 degrees. We packed our canoe, tied all of our gear down, and we were off! The first part of the river is the narrowest section and winds tightly. There’s pines everywhere and many that are bent over the river. It’s a very cool experience travel down this section. For day one, we packed “real” food so we wouldn’t have to start eating the dehydrated variety just yet. By 12:30 we had made it 12 miles (4mph) and it was time for sandwiches. It was also a time for reflection because 4mph was a long way off from 5.5. We decided that we should push the effort a bit to make sure we make it to our campsite, Parmalee Bridge State Park Campground, at a reasonable time. Around 3pm, we took a break because we were dying and needed to filter water to refill. Here is snag number two, our filter was having problems and the water that was coming out was awful. We lucked out though! On our map, I listed that there was a convenience store .25 miles up the road. I ran down there, picked up 6 Gatorade’s, and ran back. This gave us the energy to push on.  

We pulled into our campground at 7:30 pm, after canoeing all day. To say this was a rude awakening would be a massive understatement. We unpacked the canoe, and had to hike with our stuff to our campground. Once set up, it was time to figure out food. My dad set up the backpacking stove and started to boil water and I went looking for sticks so we could have a fire. Once our food was ready, we sat down and started to eat. We looked at each other and laughed about how ridiculous this had been. Sitting at this campsite was a low mental point for sure. Knowing that we had 3 days like this ahead, and the weather was calling for it to be 94 degrees was oppressive. To make things worse, we talked with others at the campground canoeing the Au Sable, but they were taking 8 days! It was at this point we had some serious doubts. On a positive note, Parmalee had a hand pump so we were able to get fresh, cold water.  

  •  Day 2 

We woke up around 7am feeling decent. Shoulders, lats, and traps were all fatigued but not too sore. We packed our stuff, ate and were on the river by 8:30 am. The river looks completely different from where we started. It was wider, shallower, and had a rocky bottom. It was a nice change of pace. I don’t know if it’s because you can see the current, but the river looks faster in here and provides motivation. Today our goal was to travel 31 miles to a campsite called Buttercup Campground. Starting earlier than the day before was a huge help. It didn’t feel like we were playing catchup all day. Early on, we had our first Bald Eagle sighting! The eagle was sitting in a tree close to the water and took off as we paddled by. The best part about the second day is that you go through Mio around lunchtime. Before reaching Mio, you have to traverse the Mio Dam. This is the first of 6 dams that we would have to portage over. You will be looking for a canoe shaped sign that says “portage”. These signs are not very large, so keep your eyes open!  This portage is right next to the dam and is 9 concrete steps. All of the dams require you to walk a ways after leaving the water, so plan for this ahead of time. When we reached Mio, my dad walked to the grocery store, bought more bagels, sandwiches, water and pretzels. Eating food after being on the water felt so great! 

 Back on the water we went! The rest of the day went smoothly. This section of river is popular for tubing and rentals, so you will have to share the river much more than day 1. 6 miles after Mio all the tubers get picked up and everything will be peaceful again. Overall, I was shocked at how few people you see on the water. Day two ended on a much more positive note than day 1. We arrived earlier and had time to relax a bit. The only negative is that Buttercup did not have any water source so we were running a bit low.  

 Check out part two to see how day 3 and 4 go! 

The post Canoeing the Au Sable River appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.


Mackinac Island Swim

August 31st, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Dawn Hinz

What do you consider a “long” swim? Anything over a mile? How about 2 or 3 miles? Or have you ever done a point to point swim? Is it crazy to swim 8.2 miles around Mackinac Island? Yes it is. Crazy, exciting and beautiful!

The event starts on the shoreline in front of the Grand Hotel and then goes clockwise around Mackinac Island to Mission Point Resort. (Optional to swim around marker buoys near the harbor to make up for not being allowed to swim through the harbor itself.) Water conditions could be wavy and rough or flat, cold or not as cold but crystal clear and rocky. You could stand or reach shore quickly if you wanted a standing break.

A storm blew through the night before the race bringing 4-6’ waves but luckily calmed down by race start. Lake Huron was an enjoyable 68*. 237 swimmers entered the water two by two. Miles 1-2 had a gentle head on current. That current increased over miles 3-4 and then disappeared for miles 5-8, except the last 350 yards from finish. There it pushed you to the final buoy and I had to dig deep to make the final surge back to the finish line. Garmin officially recorded 13,532 yards, about 1000 yards shy of 8.2 miles. Views of the Island were beautiful and you could use various points to sight. The crystal clear water allowed you to see all the rocks and boulders and old logs beneath the surface, along with numerous tiny fish. Oddly enough M-Dot had road construction in the middle of our swim course. They were unloading rocks from a barge at mile 3.5 to repair the road that goes around the Island.

Training for this distance meant swimming 10,000+ yards, broken over 3-4 swims weekly since February with a lot of emphasis on technique. It also meant getting into open water by late May to acclimate to cold water. Long continuous swims started in June at 2 miles and increased mile by mile up to 7 miles in August. If I could go back I would add a few 3 mile pool swims in before hitting the open water.

Are you up for the challenge of a distance swim? There’s actually a few in Michigan. Swim to the Moon offers distances from 0.5 miles to 10,000 yards through a few connected inland lakes. Mackinac Island Swim can be taken on by individuals or relay teams. The Mighty Mac Swim across the Straits of Mackinac will hopefully return in 2021. It’s a 4 mile swim but is more like swimming 5+ miles due to the currents and there is no bottom to touch for a break. 

If you do take on a long distance swim I recommend starting with technique improvement. Bad form over miles and miles could cause a major injury. Follow a solid training plan or work with an experienced coach who can improve your technique and give you an individualized plan. Also, swim in conditions that closely match your event and practice your nutrition.  Happy Swimming, Coach Dawn 

The post Mackinac Island Swim appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.


The Divide – Gravel Road Race

August 24th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Christina Vipond

The Divide began in 2015 by Jeff Harding and Don Passenger as a fundraiser for Manton Public School’s Cross Country and track teams. It is held the last Sunday of July and is part of the Michigan Gravel Road Series.  

The Divide offers something for all gravel enthusiasts with 3 route options:

  • 19 miles with 1330 feet of elevation change
  • 34 miles with 1987 feet of elevation change
  • 50 miles with 2292 feet of elevation change.

There is an outer loop that the 34 mile course completes one time and the 50 mile racers get to experience it twice. The outer lap is ridden in opposite directions every year to vary the terrain profile. All routes begin and end on paved roads in Manton, Michigan. Around the 3 mile mark, these roads turn to mostly hard packed gravel with “a little two-track” and “a little sand”  for a scenic ride on the outskirts of the Manistee National Forest.

The Divide is a great race for gravel, mountain and fat tire bikes. As with so many other races, The Divide will leave racers wondering if they are riding the right size tire for the course. 

Jeff, Don and their volunteers (including the cross country and track teams) were top notch with ice cold drinks and freeze pops at all aid stations. The course was well marked with signs and volunteers were stationed throughout the course to make sure racers stayed on course. Photographers volunteered their time and posted over 1000 photos that racers could share for free. 

This year’s race took place on Sunday, July 25th. Jeff and Don, as always, did a great job of posting on The Divide’s Facebook to keep racers up to date. A post on July 22nd, updated the course conditions.  It was reported that the roads were recently brined and the outer loop was rolling “faster than ever”. Then the news about the infamous Gilbert Corners, a section of sandy two-track that keeps racers guessing about their bike choice.  The 19 milers could expect some sand at the bottom of the downhills. The 34 milers would ride this 3-4 mile section mostly uphill on their way back into town. The 50 milers would get to ride this section both out and back. There will be some “sketchy downhills” on the way out and “on the way back the sand at the bottom of those downhills will zap your legs before the punchy uphills challenge your will power”. There was a July 24th update post reporting the rain had made the washouts on Gilbert Corners a little bigger. “Caution Ahead” signs were put out throughout the course with a Facebook posted warning “when you see a caution sign, we mean it!”

 

Athletic Mentors represented well in the race with athletes using a variety of tire sizes.

  • Jared Dunham took 3rd overall in the 50 mile race. He rode 42cc but felt he would have been fine on 40cc tires. Jared said he feels like the sand made a few of the hills more challenging but you don’t need a big tire to ride the course. He further stated that “The Divide may be 50 miles but it’s probably the most memorable 50 mile race course I’ve done so far.” He thought it was a good race, very hilly with some sand thrown in.
  • Terry Ritter took top spot in the 50+ class for the 50 mile on 36cc tires. He felt the course conditions were excellent; right direction and plenty of heavy rain the day before.
  • Hunter Post took 1st in his age group and 4th overall in the 50 mile race, racing 40 cc tires. He also felt the rain helped firm up the sand, but the depth was still energy draining. Particularly on the 2nd lap, once the sand was chewed up by other riders. Hunter liked the direction of this year’s outer loop as well.
  • Melanie Post took 1st in her age group for the 34 mile race. Melanie  raced on 40 cc tires and stated she also liked the route this year. “The sandy climbs were definitely the most challenging part of the course, aside from just the elevation gain in general. The course was very well marked with great volunteers as always.”
  • I raced the 50 mile route on 36cc tires and finished 2nd overall for women. Choosing lines on the edge of the two-tracks was helpful but I still did my fair share of walking some of the deeper sand. The main gravel roads were in great condition.

The Divide really does have something for everyone with 3 options for miles, challenging climbs, fun and memorable sections of sand, and beautiful scenery on quiet gravel roads. It is a great fundraiser with all proceeds going to Manton’s cross country and track teams.  Hope to see YOU there next year!!

The post The Divide – Gravel Road Race appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.