ALGER COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – A woman, originally from southeast Michigan, leaves her mark on the Upper Peninsula with a record-breaking run.
Meagan Denman navigated more than 41 miles of the Pictured Rocks Lakeshore Trail back in August. It took her seven hours, 48 minutes, and 25 seconds. This set the record for the Fastest Known Time (FTK) by a woman on that specific trail.
The trek is a notoriously scenic view of Lake Superior, giant sand dunes, and sandstone cliffs.
“There’s no special sauce to running. It’s time and commitment and just doing the miles, and doing the work, and being very consistent about it. For me that’s been the biggest thing is putting in that time,” said Denman.
Races have been canceled throughout the country due to the pandemic. FTK has become popular among runners this year, which is a speed record on any given route.
“People have found other ways to continue to push themselves and basically come up with their own personal achievements. This was a way to do one of those things. I saw the previous time was seven hours 50 minutes and figured that was something I could take on. Something I may be able to do faster, and just barely, I just barely made it.”
Denman decided to go unsupported, which means she carried her own supplies and had no external support on the trail. Every 45 minutes, she would stop to filter water to drink or eat to have enough energy to keep going. She would alternate between caffeinated gels and solid food.
“To be honest, it was a lot harder to be by myself that whole time than I thought it would be. I figured I do this all the time, this is fine. But to push yourself that hard for that long, it was mentally challenging.”
Another challenge was not being able to stop along the way and take in the view and soak it all in. Denman grew up near Brooklyn, Mich. and now lives in Virginia. She hadn’t been to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore since she was a little girl.
Nearing the end of the trail was emotional for Denman. The last half mile, she ended up stubbing her foot on an underground root which caused searing pain. She said if that would have happened earlier, she might not have continued on in the run.
“I had given up hope for so long until that last 10k at that point. Then I just put all my emotion and all of my strength into the last five or six miles. So, once you’re done and you see that you did it, it’s just like ‘I can’t believe that just happened. I’ve been doubting myself for that last six hours.’ It was a relief. It was very emotional.”
Despite races being canceled, Denman finds the silver-lining in the situation.
“It’s actually been a better year, despite COVID. I’ve been able to do different things that I may have never done if we were in a normal world with normal racing happening. So, I’m actually enjoying pushing myself and my boundaries outside of a racing world. It’s been a lot of fun.”