Odyssey SwimRun Les Cheneaux Islands

The Les Cheneaux Islands are situated just north of the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and played host on Sunday, September 8th to the Midwest's first island hopping swimrun adventure.

This Great Lakes endurance adventure offered fresh water swims in Lake Huron, trail runs on secluded islands, and a handful of dock jumps.

The race was headquartered in the charming town of Cedarville and traversed five islands in Lake Huron.

Long Course athletes swam a total of 4.25 miles and ran 12.25 miles split up over seven legs. Short Course athletes started in a separate wave and went fives miles less with 2.5 miles of swimming and 9 miles of running over four legs.

An opening 2 mile run let athletes work up a sweat and created some separation in the field leading into the first swim leg.

Ryan Linden, from Charlevoix, Michigan, just south of The Mighty Mac, was the leader for the first hour of racing.

Autumn in the Midwest brings cooler temps, but comfortable when running in a wetsuit, as is required in most swimruns.

Numerous private land owners provided permission for athletes to race across their lakeside properties.

After a short swim from Hill to Government Island athletes got to run a half-mile of singletrack trail.

Ribbon is draped throughout the course to alert athletes they are on the prescribed course.

Equipment selection varies but in the water most choose to swim with paddles.

Though swimrun was founded by the Swedes as a team sport, in recent years the introduction of a solo category has brought many news athletes into the sport. The post-race beer tent is fertile grounds to link up with other solo athletes and find a future teammate.

This Les Cheneaux course is catered to strong swimmers and the longest of the day was nearly a mile passage from Government to La Salle Island where it was time for more trails.

This water crossing was shallow enough and some opted to wade across to the other side.

One particular property on the course was rumored to be owned by a Rumrunner for Al Capone. It featured a boat dock...

...and that means dock jumps!

Each race is different in how swim exit points are marked but here it is bright neon flags to navigate off of.

The Les Cheneaux islanders are water lovers and provided safety support on race day. The woody boats are a fixture on many docks in Lake Huron.

Though swimrun is a self-supported endeavor, who can resist the caring hand of a Volunteer? Especially one helping climb up a slippery ladder.

The final 25 yards took athletes up a boat dock to the finish line inside of a dock house.

One very happy athlete to be at the finish.

Odyssey SwimRun's next stop is the San Juan Islands with the challenging Orcas Island event on Sunday, September 22nd which includes freshwater lake swims and plush Pacific Northwest trails.

Photos provided by Mark Simmons