Great Lakes Relay

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The Great Lakes Relay (GLR) is a three-day race for runners that crosses the northern portion of Michigan's Lower Peninsula and sometimes part of the Upper Peninsula as well.[1] It is known for its very hilly, sandy course, heat, humidity, and 270 mile length.[2] It has many similarities with the Great Midwest Relay. They differ in that GLR takes place on much more rural routes. The GLR was first run in 1992, with the finish line being in Mackinac City. Due to disputes with local officials, the finish was later moved to its present location in Empire, Michigan, home of the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes.


The race is broken into three days, each of which usually consists of around 18 legs. The individual legs vary in length from 2 miles to nearly 12 miles. The first two days of the race cover up to 110 miles each, while the last day covers approximately 70 miles. The shortened last day allows for time to relax on the beach and for the after-relay pasta party and awards banquet. Teams are composed of up to 10 people, and they are allowed up to three chase vehicles to support their runners on the course. Often, however, vehicle traffic is directed around the runners both for safety and because the trails are inaccessible by car. The race starts at 6:00AM each day, and the team's finish time is recorded. Times from the three days are then added together, and the team with the shortest time is declared the winner.[3][4]

Said one former GLR racer: "In 2013 I took a team of elite runners on the Great Lakes Relay. While the scenery was great and the race was organized well, our team dearly missed the typical obstacles runners of our caliber have come to enjoy. I mean come on! Where were the mud pits, barbed wire, ice ponds, walls with ropes, electric shockers and most of all post "race" parties?"


Each year approximately 80 teams compete for glory in the GLR. There are two divisions: Open and Mixed. Mixed teams must have a 4:6, 5:5, or 6:4 male to female ratio. Ages of runners range from as young as high schoolers to competitors in their 50s and 60s.

A pair of English gentlemen frequently run the GLR. Other running luminaries who have competed include former Olympians for both the U.S. and Canada at 1500m, National Masters record-holders, numerous NCAA All-Americans, numerous top 100 Boston Marathoners, numerous Olympic Trial Qualifiers, the World Beer Half-Marathon Champion, women's beer mile world record holder and the 2014 Diplodash for Ice Cream Bash 5k Run/Walk and Kid's Fun Run Champion.

In 2015, legislation was proposed to the race officials to ban any person who has ever participated in The Color Run from running the GLR.

Hype surrounding the 2015 relay was at its highest peak since 2006. A large number of teams were created in an attempt to take down the two-time defending champions, Meat Train, led by legendary captain,[5] Leo Foley. Internet postings on the popular message board at saw large amounts of speculation and trash talking.