If you’re going to make yourself suffer, struggle and push through hours of pain, you really might as well have something pretty to look at while you do. Or so goes the thinking for the fine folks at Endurance Evolution. They’ve put on some of the best running and triathlons in the state since 2009, and they’ve chosen the beauty of the Mitten as the scenic backdrop for these rewarding endurance events.
In 2009, Joel Gaff and Eric Tingwall had the idea of organizing a triathlon. As athletes and members of the Michigan State Triathlon Club, they were sure they could put on an event that balanced a challenging, tough course with the natural beauty of Northern Michigan. After some reconnaissance and deliberation, the pair settled on beautiful Bowers Harbor on the Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City. Their commitment to quality events is evident in their choice of locale–participants have a little more elbow room to look around and enjoy the vineyards and bays of Old Mission Peninsula, and to enjoy other racers’ company at the finish line.
Their success with Endurance Evolution is due to talent, hard-work and a thorough understanding of what makes a great marathon, running race, or triathlon. But for a Traverse City native and outdoors enthusiast, there’s more to a race is than the discipline or category. Gaff and Tingwall know that where a race takes place plays a big part of the experience.
“One thing Endurance Evolution prides itself on is creating scenic and challenging races. Places like Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau country are perfect places for the events we host.”
Endurance Evolution prepares heavily, to make sure everything is accounted for before race day. A lot of things go into planning a race, including things you may not even think of. All of the hard work pays off, however, when athletes can’t wait to come back for the same event next year.
“We work closely with city and township officials, law enforcement, and emergency medical personnel when planning our events. Our number one priority is creating a safe, fun, and challenging, environment for our athletes and spectators,” Gaff said.
The Traverse City Triathlon has grown into one of the top events in the state and returns for its fourth edition on August 12 this summer. Endurance Evolution, however, is already expanding to include more great events, including the Runaway Hen Show Shoe race in February that featured the lovely rolling landscape of Crain Hill Vineyards. An especially big new project is the Glen Arbor Solstice Half Marathon and 5k, one of the largest undertakings by Endurance Evolution. The race will show off beautiful Glen Arbor and help raise money for the Glen Arbor Fire Department and Glen Arbor Park Commission.
Endurance Evolution will also make a homecoming of sorts with the Spartan Sprint Triathlon. The MSU alumni will team with their old Triathlon Club to bring the fun and suffering of a sprint triathlon to the Lansing area, including a bike course around Lake Lansing. Gaff expects 300 brave athletes to undertake the challenge, and many more cheering them on. ~Cody Sovis, Feature Writer