Ryan DeCook sets new course record to win 2018 M22 Challenge


Photo by Jake Holtrop

From staff reports

Ryan DeCook, 37, of Washington, Mich., won the 10th annual M22 Challenge on June 9 with a course-breaking record of 1:11:02. He beat 900 other athletes in the iconic Glen Arbor triathlon that includes a grueling 2-mile dune climb in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a 17-mile bike ride around the Glen Lakes and up Inspiration Point, and a 2.5-mile standup paddle or kayak on the choppy waters of Little Glen Lake.

“I just love this race, it’s such a beautiful area,” said DeCook. “I’ve done a lot of triathlons, over 100 across the world, and this is definitely one of the more special races out there. Being able to kayak in this gorgeous, beautiful water, running up the Sleeping Bear sand dunes, there’s nothing else like it on earth.”

Twenty-five-year-old Jamie Endicott of Traverse City was the top woman finisher with an impressive time of 1:20:23—her fourth win.

Endicott credits her improved paddle form with helping her charge through the waves to solidify her fourth female division win. “This is the most positive race I’ve ever done, I keep coming back because the vibe is just so good.”

The M22 Challenge attracts renowned athletes from across the country, with many participants who return to try and beat their times from previous years. The Challenge is well loved by many, including 67-year-old Duane Amato of Traverse City. Amato has participated in all 10 races.

“I do about 10 triathlons a year, and out of all 10, this race is by far my favorite because it is hands down the most fun out of all of them,” said Amato. “The energy and the views alone are unbeatable, and all of the people that come out, it’s just really, really great.” This year marks Amato’s eighth consecutive age group win in the M22 Challenge.

Planet Fitness (Traverse City), a local and nationally based fitness center dedicated to promoting fitness and health in a judgement free environment, was the presenting sponsor of the event this year.

“It’s all about getting up and doing something good for yourself,” said Ken Debusscher, owner of Planet Fitness. “We have all types of people that come in to stay active and that’s why the partnership with the M22 Challenge was a great fit. Not everyone is going to win, but just trying, being proud of yourself for finishing the event, and that sense of self achievement, that’s what is most important.”

“Great energy this year and it was perfect weather for a race,” said Matt Myers, co-owner of M22. “It’s been a blessing being able to get such a great group of people together for 10 years in a row now for the M22 Challenge.”

First time competitor, Ryan Linden, 36 of Charlevoix, is no amateur when it comes to racing.

“I just finished the Ironman Santa Rosa a couple of weeks ago and it was nice to completely change it up with this race,” said Linden. “This was such an unbelievable race and the area is so beautiful. It’s great that it’s not your traditional swim, bike, run triathlon. Having the kayak version at the end adds a layer of fun to the event.”