M-22 Challenge Draws Hundreds to Sleeping Bear Dunes

People from all over the country flocked to one of Northern Michigan’s popular roadways for a unique competition.

The M-22 Challenge is a race that happens every June and has exploded since it was started seven years ago.

The M-22 Store wanted to hold an event that would showcase the beauty of Northern Michigan.

This morning — 900 people came to run, bike and paddle their ways to the finish line at the sleeping bear dunes national park in empire.

“March first registration opens, this time it filled with 900 people in less than one hour,” said Challenge Co-organizer Keegan Myers.

The M-22 Challenge strives to bring out the best in people’s athleticism while showcasing the beauty of Northern Michigan through a run on the dunes, biking, and kayaking across a 22 mile course.

“Signed up, I’ve never done it before,” said First-timer Rick Baum. “I vacation up here all the time, so I’m familiar with all the environment and everything. So I’m just looking forward to this challenge.”

Athletes of all levels participated today.

From past Olympians, to people just wanting to improve their health.

“It’s the fourth year I did it. I kind of did it on a – I was out of shape the first year and a bunch of guys from work were doing it, so they talked me into doing it with them,” said David Baker.

Last year’s winner Jeff Smoke took first place again.

And a long-time racer but first-time winner lead the women’s division.

“The female who won last year, I raced her Sunday actually and we came close. So it was fun to come out ahead. But she did a great job,” said Keri Pawielski, the first-place female racer.

And there were plenty of people watching the race from the wings, cheering on their loved ones.

“I’m here to support my son, and I think this is a wonderful demonstration of the human spirit with all the negativity around us today, watching folks that comes out and focus on something positive in their lives is inspiring to everyone,” said Daniel Hawkins. “Who knows, maybe I’ll be in it next year.”