Race It: Lake Michigan Marathon

The fall race season is just a few weeks away. To kick things off, the Lake Michigan Marathon (and 50k, half marathon and 20-mile training run) provides a perfect opportunity to see where you’re at going into the season while taking in some of Milwaukee’s most picturesque sights along the way.

Below, Race Director Chris Ponteri tells us more about this year’s race, which takes place on Sunday, September 4.

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An urban trail marathon is super unique – how did you get the idea for the race and how did you select the location?

One day I was running on the Oak Leaf Trail behind Warnimont Park and saw all of these dirt trails connecting to the Oak Leaf so I decided to go exploring. When I saw the vast trail system that the folks at County Parks had built back there, the light bulb went off and I decided to start a race there.

Is there anything else that sets this race apart from others in the area?

I like to call it a “boutique race” in that we intentionally keep it small so we can give our runners a high level of attention. With the hot temperature last year, that became more of a challenge since we had to make special accommodations to ensure safety.

Is there anything new or different happening at this year’s race?

No, it’s mostly the same thing as last year. We are only in our third year so we haven’t needed to freshen things up yet.

What is the course like?

The course is mostly a combination of paved and dirt trails, but there is even some road, grass, wood chips, wooden bridges, stones and concrete steps. I would not call it very technical since most areas are wide and well-marked. How much is paved vs. unpaved depends on the distance you are running, but in general about two-thirds is paved.

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Where are the major hills on the course?

There are no major hills. The course is mostly flat. The biggest hill is on the Oak Leaf Trail through Bay View Park, but it’s not much of an incline/decline.

What are the most scenic spots on the course? Any landmarks along the way that runners should watch for?

There are many locations with stunning views of Lake Michigan and downtown Milwaukee. This truly is Milwaukee’s “lakefront marathon” since the entire course is within a few hundred yards of the lake. The course goes through several of Milwaukee County’s most scenic parks including Grant, Warnimont, South Shore, Sheridan and Bay View.

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Tell us about the aid stations – what will be available and where are they located?

We have five aid stations and each will be used multiple times since the course is a combination of out-and-backs and loops. They will have water, Clif Shots and Sword, which is an up-and-coming and very effective sports drink. If it’s a warm day, we will have sponges and buckets of cold water.

Who were last year’s overall winners for the 50k, marathon and half marathon? Are any of them back to contend for the win again this year?

Last year we had a very strong field. Winners were Cory Harris and Kirsten Kolb in the Marathon, Mark Caballero and Eliza Weaver in the Half Marathon, and Michael Miller and Mary Flaws in the 50k. I am not sure if any will be back this year to defend their titles, but I hope so. I know Nick Seiske is signed up for the 50k and will be a strong favorite to win that race.

Any other comments?

We have had a nearly 40% increase in registrations so far this year. That is remarkable considering this has been another down year for most marathons and half marathons. We are excited about that!!

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Chris! There’s still time to sign up for this year’s Lake Michigan Marathon. To get in on the fun, register here: https://raceroster.com/events/2016/7926/lake-michigan-marathon

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

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