The Solstice Run

I know we’re not quite at the summer solstice, but we’re only a few days away. I was out running this evening around 10:30 after a long day. The sky had been cloudless all afternoon and through sunset at 9:30. The cloudless sky and late sunset coupled with a rising full moon made it so bright, and I thought about what a perfect night it would have been for a Solstice Run.

The Solstice Run was a “run” started by a few fellow ultra runners from Traverse City. It was nothing official. Far from it. It was a few dudes who liked running, who decided to do something cool on the longest day (and shortest night) of the year.

They chose a starting point for the run, typically somewhere on the west or northern edge of the Leelanau Peninsula, and at moment the sun set they’d take off on foot toward downtown Traverse City. The “goal” of the run was to make it to TC (some 40-ish miles away) by sunrise.

The first year I did the run was in 2012, and it was the third year the run had happened. The crew consisted of Chris Treter, Chris Girrbach, Hans Voss, Norm Plumstead, and me.

Chris Treter, Chris Girrbach, Hans Voss, Norm Plumstead, and me at the start of Solstice III at Van’s Beach in Leland.

We would run together the whole night, and we’d only go as fast as the slowest member of the group. We had stashed some food and water repositories along the way as we drove out to the start so we would have fuel along our pre-planned route.

We ran and talked about just about everything you could imagine. We made bets on when we’d hear the first bird chirp in the pre-dawn hours. We commented on each other’s extremely active bowels (or, really, just mine). We pulled each other along as legs started to stiffen up.

Dufek Rd. 10:45 pm

As the night wore on we grew closer to the finish, and bonded with each other, as will always happen when you’re on a run of such a great length with like-minded folks. We grew tired of the food we had stashed, and resorted to Red Bull to give us a final push for the finish. We heard that first bird chirp as we were running along Cherry Bend Rd. sometime in the early 4:00 hour.

33 miles down. 4:10 am. Thanks for the wings.

Ironically, we finished the run at Sunset Park on West Bay. We had plenty of time to spare before sunrise. Our legs were sore but we didn’t really care.

39 miles later. Finished. Take that, Mr. Sun.

We relaxed on the beach, ate, sipped beer (yes, beer at sunrise), recounted parts of the night, and shared our stories with a few friends and significant others that joined us at the finish.

And as I ran my short, two mile run tonight, I knew it would have been a perfect night to join a few running brothers for a run across The County.