Who says getting or staying fit can’t be fun?! Marquette Trail Running, a casual group of trail runners open to anyone from a first time runner to ultra-marathon racer, is focused on this philosophy. It’s a social group to share trail tips, introduce others to the sport of trail running, promote group runs, and provide a summer trail series.
The summer trail series is an eight-race trail running points series held throughout the summer on alternate Thursday evenings at 6 pm. Locations rotate around the area to showcase the different trails Marquette County has to offer. The event is affordable and family friendly. The idea behind it is to bring like-minded people together for an evening of fun. The racing is low-key, untimed, and really all about having a great time. After the race, participants fire up a grill for burgers, brats, or whatever else is handy, and sometimes bring a dish to share while chatting about trails and running.
Aside from the race series, group runs and clinics occur at random, based on when members remember to post that they’re happening. As the director of Marquette Trail Running, I wanted to make the group more inclusive of all fitness levels, so four years ago, I added the virtual race series. A course is set and open for a few weeks. Participants can run it as many times as they want and when it is convenient for them. This series is timed, and participants have to provide documentation that they completed the course and the time they did it in (typically Strava tracked).
The group started in 2007 with a few casual group runs. Because trail running can be such a solo and independent sport, we started the summer trail series the following year. Someone can run trails every day, and only come across a few people. This is fine, but sometimes it’s nice to see others, share stories, and learn from the more experienced. Also, racing can get very expensive, causing runners to limit themselves to just a few events for the year. This also builds up the pressure to train and perform for these few events. The summer trail series is designed to eliminate these problems. It’s affordable at $30/ season (eight races, and post-race food plus awards and giveaways at each event!). Events are held on weekday evening so they don’t take away from weekend fun with your family, and the races are casual enough so there is no pressure to train or set a course record. The start line is simply scratched in the dirt, and results are self-reported by placing your name on a board when you finish.
It really provides all the benefits of racing without the pitfalls, and the group has grown into a great community!
All events are outside, with social distancing and masks recommended. Many of our group runs are broken into smaller groups, making it easy to stay spread out on the trails. We also have masks and hand sanitizer available for everyone.
Marquette Trail Running offers a wonderful way to learn a new sport, learn some trails better and explore new ones, socialize with and learn from some great, like-minded people, keep updated on what is happening with running and trails in our area, and yes, it’s also fun to join in on the race series!
The group is also planning to partner with the Keweenaw Running Group in Houghton and may do some collaborative group events or a U.P.-wide points series.
You can find Marquette Trail Running on Facebook, and it’s open to anyone. All events are free/ by donation for club members, and the recommended fee of $30 to join includes everything. We will never exclude anyone from anything. This group is open, including, and welcoming to all! Most just show up to the first series race to join. Others contact me and send me the money, but there is no official form for the group—it’s too much paperwork, and we are all there to have fun!
Andrew Rickauer grew up in Colorado and has been a trail runner since the early ‘80s. He came to Marquette to attend NMU where he met his amazing wife. They live in Marquette with their three girls who all love to enjoy the U.P. woods.
Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2021, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.