9th Annual M22 Challenge, Helping Promote Protecting Our Great Lakes

Hundreds of athletes racing to the finish line for a triathlon like no other.

Saturday was the 9th annual M22 Challenge in Leelanau County.

The race pushes athletes by climbing the Sleeping Bear Dunes, biking around the water, and kayaking or paddle boarding before crossing the finish line.

9&10’s Whitney Amann has more details on how this race is helping promote protecting our Great Lakes.

“This year it filled up, so its 900 athletes, it filled up in three minutes which is a record for us,” said Nick Madrick, chief operations officer for M22.

It’s one of the most challenging and unique races in Northern Michigan.

“People from all over the country come and we’ve had some people this is literally their 9th challenge and so they’ve been here every year and we’ve had a lot of people this is their first time,” said Madrick.

Ryan DeCook competed in the challenge for the first time, finishing in third place in one hour and 16 minutes.

“I’ve done lots of triathlons before but to be able to run the Dunes is pretty fun; more of an adventure, epic type race,” said DeCook.

The third and final part of the race is a unique paddling section, helping to promote protecting our Great Lakes.

“I think it’s one of our greatest resources, our water, I certainly think it’s an important thing and I’m excited that other people are rallying around that,” said DeCook.

“We work on issues and things and threats like invasive species, algal blooms, the Line 5 oil transport in the Straits of Mackinac, bottled water,” said Jim Olson, president and founder of Flow: For Love Of Water.

Flow: For Love Of Water is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the Great Lakes and works to carry on part of the mission of the M22 challenge.

“Just to think this is all happening for the common good and some really wonderful places like the Great Lakes which is 20 percent of the fresh water on this planet, something that we all have to treasure and take care of so it’s a celebration,” said Olson.

“A lot of people I think come here not only to race obviously and be competitive but also to just enjoy this area,” said Madrick.