It’s tough to get motivated to keep your fitness up during the winter months! But signing up for a winter running series can help you stay fit and who knows, you may even set a new PR along the way!
Craig Braun, race director of the popular Winter Run Series, tells us about this year’s races and why all runners should consider signing up!
Can you tell us a bit about the Winter Run Series? How many years has the series been run in the MKE area and what makes it so unique?
This series marks our 11th year in business and the 8th year of a “series”. The series has grown from four races to six since its birth. There’s a lot that makes the Winter Run Series stand out in the area. I think one of those reasons is the charities we work with. Racers Against Childhood Cancer and the Milwaukee Rescue Mission will benefit from this year’s series. I love the idea of helping local families and local charities. We also hand out A LOT of hardware throughout the series by medaling down to 10th place in each age group. Paying close attention to the small details and making sure each athlete is taken care of no matter their experience level. There’s no other joy like witnessing someone finish their first 5k or 10k!
What are the six races in this year’s series? Are there any specifics or course tips for the races that participants should know? What do participants get with each race entry?
Oct. 18: The Pumpkin Run in Oconomowoc
Nov. 22: The Elf Run in Brookfield
Dec. 31: Run Into the New Year in Franklin
Jan. 24: The BIG Chill in Hartford
Feb. 14: The Cupid Shuffle in Waukesha
March 20: Luck of the Irish in Hartland
The things I always emphasize are course conditions and weather. We are a winter running series and it does get cold out there. When you dress properly and wear proper shoes, winter running is really one of the best types of running. Not much can compare. We had 7,000 runners race with us last year – we can’t all be crazy, right?
We hand out A LOT of gear to each athlete. The usual stuff like shirts, beer, food and cookies. We have finisher’s medals for the Run Into the New Year. Champagne, roses and more at various events. Check out www.racelighthouse.com/winter-run-series to see all the race goodies!
How do you select the locations and courses for the races in the series?
There are a few key factors that come into play when we scope out potential venues:
Parking – can people get in and out easily without disrupting the event?
Size – Can it fit 1,200 + people inside to stay warm?
Roads – Hills and sharp turns are tough as it is. Through some snow or ice on it and it’s nearly impossible!
Scenery – It’s tough when you’re planning for winter. Trees are dead, nothing is green, no water to run next to. It’s tough, but we manage.
Is there anything new or different at this year’s Winter Run Series?
Lighthouse Cash! We’re focusing on getting those who race with us in the stores of the sponsors who support our events. Supporting local business is HUGE to us, and Lighthouse Cash is a great way for us to emphasize that with our athletes. You can earn Lighthouse Cash by placing in your age group and in return, use that cash at our sponsors’ retail stores to help save the budget!
We also have a new venue this year in Hartford that will be exciting. We’ve added in another “Be Easy 5k” for the mid-pack runners. Luck of the Irish will have some Irish Dancers at the finish, RINY has a finisher medal. We changed and rebranded the entire series. Now that I type these things out – there is A LOT that’s new for this year!
What’s the incentive for people to sign up for more than one race in the series?
Simplicity. Signup once and you’re done. It saves you some cash in the long run plus you get rewarded with a free commemorative 1/4 zip top at the first race. The family atmosphere of the series is one of the main things that bring people back to take on the Winter Challenge. Friends are made here, and I love that about this series. The first race is always a huge winter running family reunion kind of deal.
What types of overall/age group awards are offered at each race? For the series?
Top 3 male and female are rewarded with custom stained and carved wood plaques. They are really nice! Age groupers get custom placed medals with the series logo on them. These are nice as well. We try to go all in on the awards because it means so much to the athletes.
Points are collected throughout the entire duration of the series. If you do well enough to place in the top 3 overall for your age group you’re rewarded with a “Series Award” at our Winter Run wrap up party. These can be blankets, hats, jacket, hoodies – we change it up from year to year.
Are there any favorites yet for winning for the overall series titles this year?
I can’t say there are any favorites as of now! Josh Pinter swept the series last year but we do have some fast guys out here who run with us. There’s always a good run for the top 3 overall in male and female. It’s fun to watch the series points and keep tab on who’s hammering and going for the next spot in their age group or even for the overall.
Any other comments?
If you haven’t tried out the Winter Run I’d love to invite you to give it a shot. You can register for each race individually and test the waters or jump right in and take on the Winter Challenge. Right now we have 1,000 runners signed up for the Pumpkin Run and are pushing 800 to take on the challenge. We have fast runners, midpack runners and walkers. All are welcome to join!
Thanks for chatting with us, Craig! To learn more about the Winter Run Series, connect here:
TGIF! Where and what is everyone running this weekend?
Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!