Being up north soothes my soul. I love Benzie County and so even though this is only my second time running this race, it’s already one of my favorites.
The Betsie Bay Frozen 5k is a fast, freezing jaunt that starts in Elberta, atop the scenic overlook of the Frankfort lighthouse & dunes. It’s a shotgun start, straight downhill for the first quarter mile or so (maybe less) – which can be super dicey, with a lot of snow and ice patches. The race evens out through the village of Elberta, the second mile goes over the Betsie River and along M22, and then the last mile is a subtle uphill down Frankfort’s Main Street to finish at the American Legion.
This year, the wind was blowing an absolute gale and although the thermometer said it was in the ’30’s, those gusts straight off the lake felt much colder. I was so cold by the time the gun went off that I could barely feel my quad muscles, and the downhill was treacherous – mostly just trying to keep my footing and not bump into anyone. I found a “pacecar” runner ahead of me in Elberta that I could challenge myself to keep up with, but my first mile was disappointing – 9:28. At that point I knew that my hope of beating last year’s run was lost, but I still wanted to show well. Second mile was even and flat and I improved to a 9:12, finally warming up. At the turn into Frankfort, I finally felt my legs again, and saw my parents and Miss L sitting in their car waiting for me to pass them! That put some juice into me and I passed two runners – third mile at 8:59. I saw the finish line and like to finish strong – last tenth of a mile at 7:57. I finished at 28:22 (watch time).
Last year: 27:18
This year: 28:24 (official)
Which was disappointing since I feel like I’m in better shape this year. But I can reason with myself that last year it was sunny and unseasonably warm, no wind, and the downhill was ice and snow-free. My first mile is what killed me and I can chalk that up to a rough start and a slow warmup due to the cold.
This race is competitive and full of Traverse City race club members – but there are a ton of raffles and giveaways from local businesses, including the Stormcloud Brewery in Frankfort (I parked next to the brewery and watched the guys out prepping the ice on their curling rink, which is extremely popular on Friday and Saturday nights under the glow of string lights). I never qualify for anything but it’s always a good time anyway!