When Keli Elphinstone heard about the North Mitten Half Marathon & 10K and saw the finisher’s medal, her first thought was “I am so running this race!”

Keli, who has dealt with running injuries for a couple of years, also figured the early summer race held at northern Michigan’s Crystal Mountain would agree with her body: “I need to get off the roads and run more trails, so I thought this race would be another plus.”

Keli Elphinstone, wearing her MRG hoodie after a race last fall.

Keli Elphinstone, wearing her MRG hoodie after a race last fall.

The North Mitten Half Marathon & 10K offers a mixture of road and trail running, and despite its location at a popular ski resort (i.e. hilly slopes), the course is mostly flat — runners do not run up the “mountain.”

The half marathon will be Keli’s first of six planned races this year — she’s gearing up for her biggest race yet, Run Woodstock 50K in September — and she is looking forward to this kick-off-to-summer event at Crystal Mountain.

“My plan for North Mitten is to just finish, no pressure to place in my age group, not to push myself to go out too fast — just finish,” she says.

MRG is again partnering with North Mitten — I’m actually hoping to be there with my family and run the half marathon myself! — and race organizer Janice Davidson gives us the inside scoop on this year’s event. I also have a total of 4 race entries — two half marathon entries and two 10K entries — to give away to readers. (Details at the end of this post) First, though, here’s more from race director Janice Davidson:

What kind of race experience can runners expect? 

The North Mitten 10K and Half marathon is set mostly on the property of Crystal Mountain. The terrain is diverse and fun. The loop course starts on pavement to single track trail to dirt road, back to trail and back to pavement. The run is primarily flat with very small inclines along the pavement stretches.

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Runners participate in last year’s North Mitten Half Marathon & 10K.

How is this year’s event shaping up?

Registration is ahead of pace from last year. New gender specific shirts! Retail will be available on Saturday night check-in, including stickers and lightweight pullovers. Runners will receive resort coupons including a discount for a carb load meal at the Thistle Pub and Grille. This year’s drawing is for a Mountain Getaway package.

Memorable moments runners can expect in each race?

In the half, miles 4.5  to 6 traverses the Betsie River Pathway watershed. The 10K has a female runner registered from Romania! She is coming to the states to run this race. There is more to this story, but I am not at liberty to share…yet.

The North Mitten 13.1 and 10K will take place Sunday, May 24 at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, MI., about 45 minutes from Traverse City.

The North Mitten 13.1 and 10K will take place Sunday, May 24 at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, MI., about 45 minutes from Traverse City.

Any training tips? 

Run different surfaces. If possible come to the resort and run the trails. Train. Check out the map to determine where the aid stations are and be prepared. Keep running and smile!

If runners are making a weekend out of their trip to Crystal Mountain for the race, any activities or places at the resort to check out? 

Come early Saturday for the 10th annual Beer and Brats Festival! On Saturday/Sunday or Monday there is a Michigan Only Alpine slide and the new Adventure Course. There’s paintball or outdoor laser tag, new bike rentals fleet, the Michigan Legacy Art Park, and the family pool party on Sunday night.

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The races are part of Crystal Mountain’s official kick-off to summer.

Anything more runners need to know? 

We have a kayak for the overall male and female winners in both the 10K and half. Winners also receive free entry into next year’s race. We are looking for volunteers for aid stations and at the start/finish Line.

Giveaway details: to enter to win a free entry to this year’s North Mitten Half Marathon & 10K, please comment below why you’d like to run one of these races, and also which distance — half marathon or 10K — you’d like to tackle. Two winners in each distance will be selected randomly and announced here on the site next week. The giveaway starts Wednesday, March 25 and ends at 6 p.m. EST Wednesday, April 1. Good luck, everyone!

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