Dune Dash 4Mi Run-Walk at the Dunes Climbing Hill, Glen Arbor. Aug. 19, 2017

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Race director, Matt Ross, welcomed 304 runners and walkers to the 6th annual Dune Dash 4Mi Run-Walk at the Dunes Climbing Hill, Glen Arbor, Aug. 19, 2017. The weather was perfect, the dunes were beautiful, the new Dunes Trail along highway 108 is deeply wooded and serene, the runners and volunteers were friendly. What more could a runner want?  The race course showcases the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail located in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Starting and finishing at the base of the Dune Climb, runners follow the flat, paved Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail past rolling dunes and beautiful forests to the turn-around point at historic Glen Haven.  All proceeds from this event will go to the continued construction and maintenance of Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.  Race results can be found at this link;   Dune Dash Results


First a few facts about the Sleeping Bear Dunes, and who better to share those fasts than a former Dunes Mobile driver,,,,,,,, me. I drove a Dunes Mobile as a Summer job during my college years. We drivers took tourists along a special trail through the sand dunes showing them highlights and telling “secrets” long before the nearby Stocking Drive was a reality. The Dunes Mobiles were older Oldsmobiles with balloon tires which were necessary to avoid being stuck in the sand. Fact #1. Sleeping Bear is the world’s largest moving sand dune moving eastward about 6” each year. It won’t be long before Glen Lake is covered!  Fact #2, Dig down in the sand and soon your hands will be too cold to dig further. Eventually, you will find ice. Sand is the perfect insulator. No matter the temperature, ice is under that sand. Fact #3. Those bushes you see growing in the sand are actually tree tops, with a trunk buried in the sand often measuring 100’ tall. I could go on and on, but that was my job, coming up with entertaining and true sand dune facts. The Dune Drivers, including me, slept over the garages in Glen Haven, at the turn around point in the race. I recall almost setting those garages on fire when my electric blanket caught fire. Close one!


My “winner” today, although she was not the fastest runner, was the biggest loser, Val Timlin, 41, of Detroit. Val recently lost 50 pounds. Prior to that, after the birth of five children, Val lost 130 pounds. Val dropped from a hefty 287 pounds to a svelt 157 pounds which she has maintained for 13 years. Val is joined by family members of her  extended family from Buffalo, NY, Detroit and Empire. They have all made the Dune Dash a family tradition. Congratulations to our biggest loser, Val Timmons. Val, yours is a feat you can be proud of.

The 2017 Dune Dash had a distinctly international flavor. Raphael Vermeir, 62, from London and born in Belgium, is also a competitive biker. His friend, Woody McCally, 62, from Chicago, runs because of the great feeling endorphins bring him. Raphael’s wife, Fedrica, is 51, from Venice, Italy. She loves the social interaction from running. Her friend, Francesco Pron, 14, is from Paris, France. Francisco loves being with family.  Suzanne Hameka, 35, is from Ede in the Netherlands.

The Stark family was a “winner” today. Husband, Chris, 34, took first in his age group. Son, Eric, 7 took second in his age group. But mom, Jessica, 33, was the Hero. Eleven weeks after giving birth to 11 pound daughter, Madilyn, Jessica is building her endurance to begin running again. Jessica says; Listen to your body as to when you are ready to resume physical activity following having a baby. Also, every woman is different as to how fast they lose the weight. There are many factors that go into this such as genetics, whether one is breast feeding or not, diet, and level of physical activity. Remember, it took 9 months to grow and stretch, it will also take time to go back. It is also okay if you don’t end up looking exactly how you did before you had a baby. The extra skin and stretch marks are proof that you performed an amazing feat, you brought a human being into this world. Be proud of it and own it.  

Joan Bailey Zeerip was another “winner”.  Joan is 81 years young,  from Drummond Island. She was a phys ed major at Michigan State and has always been interested in good health. She says “It is absolutely important to keep moving. Use it or you lose it,” Her daughter, Pam Darling, 55, gave the race entry fee to her mom for her 81st birthday. Danny, 70, and Jan, 72, Zolik, are from Detroit and Lake Ann. Danny runs “To keep the juices flowing. If one stands still too long, the flies will gather”. His doctor’s say to “keep it up”. Jan says being in the outdoors creates endorphins to enjoy. Three generations of Zolik’s have done the Dune Dash every year. Among generations are Louis Rhein, 9 years old, who took a third place in his age group and Sophia Rhein, 12, who won her age group. Larry Burdick, 62, was in the worst shape of his life one and a half years ago. Today he is running races and in better shape than ever. Bill, 61, and Deb, 59, DeGraff, are from Rockville MD. Bill says; “Running helps you live longer”. Deb has run since she was 15 years old.


Jason Allen, 54, from Traverse City, runs to stay fit. His eldest daughter is a junior in the U Of M engineering school. That girl is smart! GO BLUE. Jason’s friend, Bill Ewing, is 54. Running has helped lower his bad cholesterol 60 points. Bill has a family history of heart conditions and high cholesterol. Jamie Kemler, 59, of Glen Arbor, feels more fit and less stress from running due to a high-stress job position. Jamie had high cholesterol.


Jerry and Mary Peterson are Friends of Sleeping Bear. The Friends maintain the trails. Every “Friend of the Trail” is a volunteer and supports the Sleeping Bear Dunes Trail. More volunteers and donation are appreciated. Terry Ray, from KLT, the rock station was there to do announcing and give out prizes to everyone who spun the wheel. This Dune Dash was her fifth.  Erick Lawson, from William’s Honda also participated in the prize giveaway.


Matt Ross wants to see you at next years’, Dune Dash. Ask me and I’ll tell you stories about my time as a Dunes Driver. By exercising, you’ll enjoy better health and higher fitness and next year, you’ll enjoy the lovely course. Remember, ask your doctor before beginning a fitness program.


Mickey Fivenson, 75, is a stroke survivor. Mickey’s doctor credits running to his survival. He is a 100 pound loser. A former director of the National Cherry Festival Races, Mickey founded the Cherry Festival Golden Mile and Wheelchair Races. He has completed over 60 marathons and holds a marathon world record with sons, Zack and Adam. He has trained 150,000+ miles in 48 years of running. Today, he took third place in his age group.  If you’d like tips on running, on marathons, if you have a story to share how running has impacted your life, or if you would like coverage of your race, following is a link to contact Mickey


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