Race It: Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon 5k

Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon is one of our city’s biggest running events. But up until recently you had to be ready to tackle 26.2 miles to take part in race weekend.

Last year the Badgerland Striders introduced the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon 5k as an event to celebrate runners of all abilities. This year, the race will be even better – the ideal event for all runners whether the aim is a podium finish, new 5k PR, finishing a first 5k or just enjoying a morning with family and friends.

Below, Scott Stauske with the Badgerland Striders tells us more about the event. For race specifics, visit our Featured Races page.

Can you start off by telling us a bit about the Lakefront Marathon 5k? What makes this race unique?

First off, thank you very much for the opportunity to speak a little bit about this newer event. The Badgerland Striders will be hosting the 37th Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon on October 1. Since many family and friends of runners will be at the finish line area of Veteran’s Park, I thought it would be great to create a true “family” running event in an effort to get the spectators more involved in the day’s activities. The Badgerland Striders have also been the sponsor of a youth running program over the past 10 weeks and many of the kids will participate in the 5k as their graduation from the program.

Is there anything new or different happening at this year’s race? Any changes from last year’s race?

Yes! Last year was our inaugural year, and it was also meant to be a fundraiser for the Milwaukee Police Department Endurance Club. ALL proceeds were going to be given to this group in exchange for their volunteering and management of the run. Unfortunately, they were told by superiors to abandon the effort only two weeks out from the event due to the continued protests from the Sherman Park incident. With very little time, the Striders tried to pull the race together and not disappoint those who had signed up. The course ended up being not adequately measured and there were definite shortcomings from what you would expect in a Strider-supported event. This year’s course has been accurately measured, we have volunteers in place, and are looking forward to producing this niche event.

Why did you pick the location for the race?

The Milwaukee lakefront is a spectacular backdrop for enjoyable running and our course is 99.9% next to water. The Lakefront Marathon finishes in Veterans Park so a course was measured to take the 5K participants on a great course and finish through the same chute as the marathoners will a very short time later. The announcers, the crowds and the truss itself are all designed to welcome everyone home. It is my hope that the 5K’ers will feel like they are part of a larger event. Everyone feels like a rock star!

Are there any post-race festivities?

The grounds will have the tents and excitement in preparation for those who are participating in the 26.2 mile distance. Check out the merchandise tent and cheer on the runners as they come down the long stretch toward the finish. Also enjoy the sights, smells and food and beverages.

Are there overall and/or age group prizes? Any top contenders for the overall wins this year?

We will have first place overall winners for male/female and Masters M/F. In addition, we will have Age Group awards in 10-year increments. We want to keep this event rather “small” and with an emphasis on having fun. So everyone is invited – it doesn’t matter if you are a speedster looking for a PR or a dad pulling a wagon of kids – we want you here! Since it’s only our second year, we’re not sure who to expect to contend for the win!

What do participants get with their race entry?

This is where we shine! For those that signed up early, an event shirt will be provided but for those reading this now and not eligible for a shirt, we still have an outstanding value. You’ll get a timed and accurate 5K run and, in addition, we will have bakery from Papas Bakery, a Strider finishing medal, a customized race belt, coffee and water and the adults may enjoy a couple cups of great beer! Also, you should know that you are supporting future youth running programs.

Why is this race a good fit for runners – and walkers – of all abilities?

The Badgerland Striders, Wisconsin’s largest running club and the 6th largest in all the United States, welcome all runners regardless of ability. Our 5K has a generous 45 minute cut-off time. Plus, as mentioned, it is a fun course to start the day off right.

Any other comments?

We know that local runners have lots of options when it comes to their running dollars, and the Badgerland Striders always try to offer the absolute best value. For as little as $20 dollars, you can get all the perks for this event. But you should also know that all of the money is going to Girls on the Run of Southeastern Wisconsin as a thank you for their assistance with our “I Can 26.2 It!” program. Kids between the ages of 5 and 12 have been participating in at-home and weekly group sessions. On “Marathon Sunday” they will be running their last 1.2 miles to complete their cumulative 26.2 mile marathon distance. Best of all, they begin this at 8:45am, so as soon as the 5K is finished, those runners get to be the cheering section for our youngest runners and see the huge smiles on their faces when they are presented with their medals. Please consider registering at: www.lfm5k.zapevent.com – you can also register onsite on race day. Thank you for supporting the Badgerland Striders, Girls on the Run and our mission to keep our youth physically fit and happy through the sport of running.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Scott! Remember runners – you can register for the race at lfm5k.zapevent.com or onsite on race day.

How is your week going? Any race plans this upcoming weekend?

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

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Race It: Badgerland Striders Track Meet

These days, you can run a local road race pretty much every weekend. But the opportunities to race on a track are few and far between. Luckily for MKE runners, the Badgerland Striders host several track meets throughout the spring and summer making it easy to test your speed on the oval.

Joining us today are event directors Alice and Ron Winkler. They’ve run the Strider track meets for 25 years and have all the info you need to jump in the upcoming meet.

To get started, let’s talk specifics: When is the May track meet and where will it be held?

The May Track meet is on Tuesday, May 30 at 6:30pm. It will be held at the St. Francis High School Track located at 4225 S. Lake Drive, across the street from the bike trail and Lake Michigan. It is on the boundary between St. Francis and Cudahy.

Who can participate? Do people need to register and, if so, is there a registration fee?

People of all ages and abilities are welcome to participate. This is a developmental meet. There is no registration and there is no entry fee. Consequently, there are no awards. Participants can just show up prior to the 6:30pm start and run in as many events as they want.

Which distances will be run at the meet?

There are no hurdles or field events. The events are: 100 meters, 200 meters. 400 meters, 800 meters, 1600 meters, and 3200 meters. The following relays will also be included: 4 x 100 and 4 x 400. Participants are welcome to compete in as many races as they like.

Will people run against others of similar gender, age, ability, etc?

Yes

A lot of newbie or slower runners may be hesitant to participate – are they still welcome to run? Are there any time requirements to participate?

This is a developmental track meet so there are no entry standards; all ages and abilities are welcome. The object is to have fun. We cheer each other on.

Let’s talk history: How long have these track meets been held and how did they get started? 

The track meets date from 1959 when the old Milwaukee Track Club (MTC) was founded by Jim Hanley and Brian Murphy. The MTC sponsored track meets and road runs. One of those road runs was a 10-mile race held for the first time in 1961. Today, under the auspices of the Badgerland Striders, it is Wisconsin’s oldest distance race, known as the Cudahy Classic; this year will be its 57th running.

Fast forward to 1973 when the well-organized MTC, with a large membership, lacked a base of operations. Conversely, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Track Club (UWM-Track Club), founded in 1972 with the intention of retaining post-college athletes, had few members. The two organizations merged to provide a home for the MTC and the opportunity to boost its image, while the UWM-Track Club gained the expertise and membership of the MTC.

By 1977, the UWM-Track Club, now separate from UWM and with members from all over Wisconsin, felt that the name limited the club geographically. In addition, the words “Track Club” bothered some people because the club was active in not only track and field, but also road running and cross country.

We (Alice and Ron Winkler) have been in charge of these track meets for about 25 years.

Has anything crazy or unexpected happened at any of the track meets in previous years?

We are literally next to the lake, so the track can be much cooler than the rest of the Milwaukee metropolitan area. Many times people arrive at the track unprepared for the cooler weather. In addition, the weather at the track can change unexpectedly when the wind shifts to the east. The wind coming off the lake can cause sunny and warm to become cloudy and even foggy with an accompanying temperature drop of twenty degrees or more.

Will additional BLS track meets be held this summer?

The other track meets will also be held at St. Francis High School Track at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, June 20 and Tuesday, July 11.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Alice and Ron!

Who will we see at the upcoming BLS track meet? Which event(s) will you run?

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Meet Lakefront Marathon’s New Race Director!

Taking on the Race Director role for Milwaukee’s oldest marathon is no joke. But Erin Smith is up for the job.

Read on to learn more about how Erin got started in running and race directing and what to expect at this year’s Lakefront Marathon!

2015-10-24 12.28.47Meet Erin!

What’s your background as a race director and also as a runner? Are you from the Milwaukee area?
For the past three years I was the race director for the Firecracker Four or FC4 as I lovingly refer to it. I kind of took on the role by accident. I was at one of my first Badgerland Striders monthly meetings and someone asked if I wanted to help plan a race. I was new to the Striders and wanted to get more involved in the club so I said I’d help. Before I knew it, I was organizing (and successfully pulling off) one of the Striders highest attended races. FC4 has had over 1,000 registered runners for each of the three years I was director, with almost 300 of those runners registering on race day! I’m glad that Lakefront has a runner limit and sells out in advance of the race; it should make planning for race day a lot easier.

As for my running skills, I’m not an age group winner by any means but I love running. I ran my first 5k about 5 years ago before I was a runner. I signed up for an event with a friend who was into running. I wanted to support her, so I figured I would just walk the distance and get a shirt for doing it. Well, when the gun went off, I ran…the whole thing. When I returned back to the finish line 28 minutes later my husband looked astonished and asked me what I was doing. I guess I was running. The whole thing kind of took off from there, the distances and intensity continued to increase. I completed my first 50 miler in October 2015 and look forward to running Ice Age 50 in May. I’ve been toying with the idea of a 100K or 100 miler but we’ll have to see what happens.

I’m not originally from the Milwaukee area. I grew up in Luxemburg, WI, a small town east of Green Bay. I’ve lived in the Milwaukee area for the last 10 years and just recently moved to Hales Corners.

What’s your experience with LFM, both as a runner and volunteer? What are some of your favorite aspects of the race?
I ran Lakefront in 2012 as my first marathon and then again in 2014. In 2012, I was still relatively new to running but thought if I was going to be a runner, then I should run a marathon. I joined the Striders and participated in their marathon build-up program. I was really impressed by the whole event from the expo to everything about the race experience. I can very vividly remember crossing the finish line of my first marathon and being greeted by Kris Heinrichs, the former race director. She gave me a hug and said “Congratulations Erin, you’re a marathon runner.” I was so impressed that she would give a sweaty stranger a hug and congratulate them. I ran Lakefront again in 2014 as a recon mission but also as my farewell to running the course for a bit. It was in the works that I would take over when Dr. Jon (former Lakefront Marathon race director) stepped down and I wanted to make sure I had the chance to see the course again as it is on race day. I often bike the course but it doesn’t have the same magic as it does on race day.

For the past three years, I have been the volunteer coordinator for LFM. It’s kind of a thankless job but I really enjoyed it. I was responsible for finding upwards of 1,000 volunteers for race weekend. I love planning and organizing so coordinating volunteers came naturally. The volunteers are one of my favorite aspects of the race. It’s so amazing to me that the Striders can put on this top-notch event and have it run solely by volunteers. The time, talents and dedication of so many people are really what make LFM so awesome. I also really like the unlimited free beer at the end of the race.

Why did you want to take on the role of LFM race director? How did you get the position and what were your thoughts upon learning the position was yours?
I wanted to be race director to be part of something big in the running community. Since I have taken on the RD role I have had people personally congratulate me, clap for me and give me praise. I mean really, I haven’t even done anything yet. You might want to hold that applause until October, just in case I mess it up. Honestly, LFM is a first class event and like I said before it’s completely run by volunteers; that includes me as well. I’ve had a lot of people thank me for taking on the role but I’m actually quite honored that the Striders have that much faith in me to carry out such a huge undertaking. As for getting this position, there wasn’t an interview process or an application. I said that I was interested and apparently proved myself so a few conversations happened and, voila, I was the next RD. I’m really excited to take on this challenge but I’ve also had the occasional freak out moment where I question my sanity for volunteering to organize a marathon!

What should participants expect at this year’s race? Do you anticipate making any changes?
As always, runners should expect a high quality race, amazing course support, smiling volunteers and some awesome LFM merchandise. I don’t anticipate making any huge changes for 2016. We did decide to increase the capacity from 3,500 runners to 4,000 runners. This decision was made very recently so it might be a surprise to some people. My number one goal for the upcoming race is to have a seamless transition from Dr. Jon to myself. My ancillary goal is to not mess it up!

As always, LFM is expected to sell out several months in advance of the race – Why do you think the race is such a popular one in the area?
I think the race is popular because it’s a well-run event. People look for quality and bang for their buck. They definitely get both at Lakefront. The Striders also provide amazing runner support outside of race weekend: the marathon build-up program, fun runs, speakers and track workouts. I also think the elevation profile lends itself to the popularity. It’s a flat and fast course and lots of people qualify for Boston at Lakefront.

We’re working on building some partnerships with local businesses to get more pre-race events in the area to build up some hype for the race. I don’t have any huge plans in the works or anything over the top planned but you never know what might happen.

What are some of your favorite Milwaukee races and why?
I might be a bit biased when it comes to races but I really like Firecracker Four. I’ve only physically run the race one time, but I run the course almost daily now that I live in Hales Corners. I love the atmosphere of FC4; the community support is over the top. Lakefront is also one of my favorites, but again with the bias. I really like the half marathon distance so Strider Half, South Shore and Trailbreaker are some good ones. My all-time favorite race is not in Milwaukee but in Stevens Point, the Point Bock Run. It’s a 5-mile out and back course that starts/finishes at the Stevens Point Brewery. It’s usually blistering cold for the run in March but they have a huge heated tent at the finish and happy people waiting to serve you Point Special.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Erin!

There’s still time to sign up for the 2016 Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon. To learn more, or to register, visit MilwaukeeLakefrontMarathon.org.

Keep Running MKE – You’re doing great!

Let’s Get to Know … Sofie Schunk!

Many runners dream of breaking the 3-hour mark in a marathon. Sofie Schunk did it during her first marathon at this year’s Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, running 2:52. An incredibly impressive race for someone who just started competing in endurance events this year!

Read on to learn more about her training, racing goals, balancing running and graduate work as well as running with type 1 diabetes!

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Age: 23
Years running: 6 (track through high school, played collegiate soccer (not much running), and only recently started competing in endurance races this year)
Favorite race distance: I’m still in the process of figuring that out, being so new to racing! I would have to say a half or full marathon based on performances, but a 5k PR is in the making!
Favorite workout: Mile repeats (x4) two weeks before a big endurance race—they feel short, and you can run really fast! This is always a confidence boost for me. I also love hills and long runs with a group of people.
Pre-race routine: I am not one for superstitions, but I always read through my training log (BELIEVE Journal by Lauren Fleshman) to give me a nice confidence boost. I also enjoy listening to music (I have a set playlist that starts from relaxing Dave Matthews to more ‘pump-up’ such as Eminem) and always write on my wrist HCS 3:23, my sister’s initials and part of her favorite verse—we are very close but live 2,000 miles apart (she is also a stud runner at Texas Tech). In terms of warm-up, I always make sure to get ‘sweaty’ and finish off with six fast strides—my favorite number, and it gives me the ‘fast’ racing mindset.
Favorite post-race treat: A beer with friends or anything salty (fries!)
Must-have gear: Shoes and my continuous glucose meter for my diabetes!
Wins/awards:
• 3rd Place Overall Female (1st Age Group) Wisconsin Half Marathon 1:24
• Female Winner Strider Half Marathon 1:26
• 3rd Overall Female Lakefront Marathon (1st AG) 2:52
• 5K and Mile Female Winner Milwaukee Running Festival 5:42 and 18:12

What inspired you to start running?
Growing up in New Mexico in the foothills of the mountains, I always had access to trails. That being said, I took them for granted, as I never ‘properly’ used them until I picked up endurance running in the past two years. Initially, I ran track in high school, mainly middle distance, because I had a natural talent for it, as did my family (my mom ran track, and my sister now runs track/XC for Texas Tech). When I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2008, my sophomore year of high school, I had a harder time running track management-wise and began to focus on soccer. I pursued soccer in college, but always had a knack for running, despite being a goalkeeper and the stereotype there.

Immediately toward the end of my soccer career at Marquette, I approached Dr. Michael Lovell about Marquette’s ‘President’s Running Club.’ I figured, what could be better than running as stress relief throughout graduate school? I was immediately hooked and began to grow into the workouts and long runs, particularly because of all the awesome people and faculty I met—each had their own separate experience that was passed down to me. I was immediately inspired and enjoyed the fact that running was where I had some of my best reflective and academic thoughts and ideas, on top of providing stress relief and a new social group! Additionally, it was an awesome way to control my diabetes naturally—not to mention, one of the most influential members to me in the running club, John Klika, also has Type 1 Diabetes, providing another awesome resource!

Since joining the running club, I have made a pact to run wherever I go or travel in order to see new things. I have met many people along the way and seen many new places everywhere I travel, including exploring my own backyard trails in New Mexico amongst the mountains that I knew always existed but was never inspired to run until now. Running has given me a way to channel stress into a more positive outlook and promote free thought and happiness that I want to share with others—I won’t stop!

Do you think your training and fitness from playing soccer has played a role in your successful transition to running?
Goalkeeping often gets a notion of ‘little running’, which is true—however; there is a large aerobic part to training in practice involving many plyometric and agility exercises repeated for an extended period of time. Soccer training taught me the importance of strength training and lateral agility, which I have found greatly enhances running and power. My first running injury occurred after I neglected many of the basic strength drills I was taught throughout my collegiate athletics career, resulting in IT band syndrome due to weak hip abductors. Ever since, I will embrace the strength and power soccer gave me, in addition to the competitive drive and work ethic mentality.

Many runners dream of running a sub-3 hour marathon – congrats on hitting this mark during your first one, in addition to a third place finish. Can you tell us what inspired you to tackle the marathon distance? What was your experience during the race?
Thank you! The Marquette running group, amongst myself, inspired me to tackle the marathon distance. I honestly did not expect to run a marathon until after the Wisconsin Half Marathon when I still kept training with the group whose next endeavor was the marathon. That being said, I still had hesitations—my parents always said marathoners ‘are prone to injury’ and time-consuming, which at the time, seemed impossible with writing my Masters thesis. However, the long runs became what I looked forward to every weekend, running farther and faster than I ever had before and having people to do it with along the way. Around the end of May, one of my friends in the group (and Dr. Lovell) said you have to do a marathon—it’s one of the greatest feelings of accomplishment especially when you have been putting in the work! I knew they were right, and found a way to fit in the training with little to no injuries.

I went into the race with no exceptions—I kept telling myself that no matter what happened, it would be the farthest I had ever ran and would be for and with a team. That being said, I could not contain my excitement beforehand. I knew I had to be consistent throughout the race, pace-wise, and take it all in. I found myself running with an awesome group of people—Mike Nelson (Marquette’s Track and XC coach), Tim Cigelske, and two other Marquette students. I truly believe this group made me successful—my watch had died so I was able to get a few splits, and we were almost all laughing and telling the stories the whole first half of the race! Who could ask for a better setup and group to share fun times and run at a fast pace?

I was a bit nervous seeing splits all around 6:30 and below, as I had originally planned on 6:40-6:45; however, I am not one to back out of trying to test my limits, especially when I had nothing to lose. The hardest part was miles 20-24—my body started to feel the fact that I had never run that far at that fast of a pace. Only two of us were still running together, but it was enough to give me that extra boost at mile 22—marking the point of the farthest distance I had ever ran! At that point, I also had caught up to the second place female. I began to stay with her and actually passed her at mile 24; unfortunately, I think I motivated her to use her reserves as I was just starting to deplete mine. She passed me again, but it was enough to ‘bring me home’ without thinking much about my throbbing legs. I remember crossing the line in shock, excitement and motivation to improve—I had exceeded my expectations, but just knowing that I think I could have a higher potential and extra motivation through others was the greatest feeling in the world! I loved cheering in my teammates and giving hugs to all of them that helped me along the way, as well as hearing their race stories.

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What was your training like leading up to the marathon? Based on your training, did you expect to race as well as you did?
I ran with the running group usually twice a week, typically a track workout and 4-8 mile tempo run. The weekends, usually Saturday morning, were devoted to long runs and distance training, usually with the Badgerland Striders group but with my smaller subset of the running club—Dr. Lovell, John Klika, Gary Krenz, Dr. Mike Gordon and Tim. On the days in between workouts, I would get in anywhere between 4-10 easy miles either on my own time or with a friend. I also, if feeling extra fatigued, would replace easy runs with swimming or biking (which I did supplement running with anyways, being a triathlete). I kept up my strength routine 2-3 times a week as well, to prevent injury and keep my power. Based on my training, I knew I had one of the strongest endurance bases I had in awhile; however, with never running a marathon, I thought I could break 3 hours if I pushed it, but that’s it—I proved to myself that I could go beyond! Running a half marathon about a month and a half before was also perfect timing for a ‘predictor’ run. I also think that the taper (although difficult) was very important for my performance!

You continued your fantastic racing season through the Milwaukee Running Festival by winning the elite women’s mile as well as the 5k. What was your experience running these races?
These were all about having fun and running with a friend who just came back from running—Marissa Lovell! We had a great time, and when you run amongst fellow Milwaukee runners and enjoy the experience with all the routes that we constantly run everyday, it’s easy to be successful! These also were the first couple of races I could run for a greater cause (although I will always run for Marquette!) after joining DSP, the Diabetes Sports Project.

Can you tell us about the Diabetes Sports Project?
The Diabetes Sports Project is a team of type 1 diabetic ambassadors, all of whom have had amazing accomplishments—IronMan Kona Championship Participation, climbing Mt. Everest, Running Across America, and multiple ultramarathon completions, for example. Along with myself, there are ten of the leading diabetes athletes ambassadors from around the world, and we use our athletic accomplishments to inspire and educate those affected by diabetes.

There is a huge need for sports and diabetes education, coaching and mentoring in the community. Many people living with diabetes are uncertain how to live an active life; that is where we come in! Whether they are looking to race an Ironman triathlon, play t-ball or dance at ballet class, we are the go-to resource for how to successfully manage diabetes while living an active life. We provide mentoring, through our work in the community, to those in need. For athletes looking for more detailed triathlon coaching, we formed an exciting partnership with Sansego (the coaching organization started by Craig “Crowie” Alexander), which along with our diabetes knowledgebase and mentoring from our ambassadors, provides a powerful combination that truly empowers everyone in the community to reach their individual goals.

DSP is about sports and impacting the community, which played a huge role in my decision to join.

I became involved after pursuing endurance running and following the group when they used to be an integral part of Team Novo Nordisk—I’ve always wanted to speak and help educate kids on how diabetes should not be thought of as a limit—DSP will give me the tools to do so!

Diabetes has affected my running—there are days I just simply can’t control my blood sugar, low or high, and find myself stopping at a gas station on a long run to ‘chug’ a sports drink, or taking injection to get my blood glucose level in a ‘performance’ range. Other times, diabetes has given me a performance aide in that I always have a sense of my body at a particular point in time—I have to be aware. If I am not, I could crash or my performance may suffer. Diabetes is unpredictable and takes a lot of trial and error in terms of managing for endurance running. DSP, and the other type 1 athletes I have met (John in the running club and Igor Stevic, for example) have helped immensely, and I hope to do the same for others.

So, follow us on social media and help support our cause!

Many runners struggle with finding time to train – how do you manage to squeeze in running with your busy grad school schedule?
With the running group, times were always at a set schedule and I managed to use these as a perfect ‘study break.’ Long runs actually got me up early on the weekend and motivated me to focus the rest of the day—with a busy schedule, I learned to be efficient and productive during the times I wasn’t running instead of ‘wasting’ time. That being said, there were many late nights and I’d sometimes get a morning run in on little to no sleep. Running always seemed to give me a sense of energy though, no matter what—and the people I was with inspired me to get work done so I could join them!

What running goals are you looking to tackle next?
I tentatively have the Arizona Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon on my schedule, as I would love to PR in a half marathon. I also just want to continue to compete for fun, but eventually have another shot at the marathon and run Boston. If all goes well, I want to consider the Olympic trials for 2020! Triathlon season will gear up again in the summer, and I have lifelong aspirations of IronMan and ultramarathons—but first, a career is of priority!

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In general, what makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?
The people and their knowledge for running, and the many routes I had yet to experience—there are always new trails and paths that I have never seen! I also noticed that since Milwaukee winters can be cold, the running community embraces every bit of good weather (and bad!) which you don’t often see other places. Also, everyone in the running community is friendly and wanting their peers to be successful. There is less concern about pace, winning, etc., than about the healthy lifestyle each and every runner shares, which I think is awesome!

Any other comments?
I will never take running for granted and will run for all those that can’t. As my favorite professional runner Lauren Fleshman once said, “When you recognize that failing doesn’t make you a failure, you give yourself permission to try all sorts of things.” This is something I have grown to live by, along with “You can find evidence to support anything you believe about yourself. So you might as well believe you can achieve your most outlandish goals.” There are no limits, and the Milwaukee running community proves just that!

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Sofie!

If you’re a runner in MKE, we’d love to chat with you. Send us an email at keeprunningmke@gmail.com if you’d like to be featured or know someone who should be featured in an upcoming Let’s Get to Know . . . post.

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Let’s Get to Know … Mariya Batishcheva

Originally from Belarus, Mariya Batishcheva (some of you may know her as Mariya Sorensen) has found a home away from home in the Milwaukee running community.

Through participating in fun runs and build-up runs to running and pacing races, Mariya says running is a great way to meet new friends.

Read on to learn more about why she started running, current goals and why no one should shy away from a group run!

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Age: 27
Years running: 4
Favorite workout: Leg workout 🙂
Favorite gear: My Garmin watch
Pre-race routine: Set multiple alarms 🙂
Favorite post-race treat: Popsicle
Favorite distance to race: 13.1
Favorite inspirational running quote: “You will never regret reaching your goal. You will only regret giving up and not trying harder.”

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Why did you start running? What’s kept you running throughout the years?
My honest reason why I run: Running is good for my brain. After a run I’m happier and better able to handle ups and downs in my life. Also I like to set a goal and work toward it – that keeps me going 🙂

I know I will never quit running, because it’s my perfect excuse to buy a lot of shoes. Please don’t tell my hubby! LOL

Fill in the blank: When I run, I feel …
Free, strong and healthy 🙂

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What running goals are you looking to tackle in the next few years?
I’m intrigued by what my body is capable of…I just finished my first 50K on July 11th and I had a blast. Maybe a 50 miler is next?!

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How are you involved in the local running community? What prompted you to get involved?
I’m a member of two big running clubs: Badgerland Striders & Milwaukee Running Group (OMG). I decided to join because running can be a boring and lonely sport, out there running on your own. The vocal and moral support from teammates can often be the difference between a good and a great run.

I’m really happy I decided to join those clubs. It opened up my mind to trying new distances and races. I learned how other people train, race and eat. Also, I gained extra motivation that keeps me from cutting a run short. I think it’s incredible how many runners I met and became friends with in a past few years.

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Sometimes people are intimidated to come to a running meetup – what would you tell these runners to encourage them to give it a try?
1. You can meet like-minded individuals.
2. You’ll hear about the latest running events and news.
3. You’ll be running as a team, not on your own.

Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?
I love to run down by the Milwaukee Art Museum.

What are some of your favorite Milwaukee races?
This is an easy answer: Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon! 🙂

What makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?
I believe Milwaukee is a great place for runners because the variety – a lot of beautiful parks and trails.

Thanks for chatting with us, Mariya!

If you’re a runner in MKE, we’d love to chat with you. Send us an email at keeprunningmke@gmail.com if you’d like to be featured or know someone who should be featured in an upcoming Let’s Get to Know . . . post.

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Let’s Get to Know … Praful Aggarwal!

Joining a new running group can be a bit intimidating. But Milwaukee transplant, Praful Aggarwal, encourages everyone to give it a try.

“Over the past couple of years, I have realized how awesome runners are,” he says. “I always tell people that really all they have to do is show up. The veteran group members do everything they can to make you feel comfortable and enjoy the workout.”

Read on to learn more about Praful and his running journey!

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Age: 28 years
Years running: About 3 years ago, I got on a treadmill for the first time. But when tragedy struck the Boston Marathon, I decided to take running more seriously. My friend, Wendy Demos, helped me understand running. She introduced me to races, training plans, running stores, like PRO, and so much more. So I would have to say that I have been running for a little more than 2 years.
Favorite workout: I enjoy working out in a group, so anytime I get to participate in a group run or fitness class is when I have the most fun. More specifically I really enjoy speed workouts at the Hart Park track and Core/Strength classes at the WAC Wauwatosa.
Favorite gear: I am not too gear heavy and just need my Timex (30-lap watch) and shoes.
Pre-race routine: I like to get up at least 2-3 hours before a race in order to foam roll/stretch and get my stomach to feel like I want it to. Besides that, just get to the race and warm-up.
Favorite post-race treat: Watermelon and Oranges.
Favorite distance to race: Half Marathon. My first “real” race was a half marathon, so I just have a special thing for half marathons.
Favorite inspirational running quote: I would have to say, “Run Forrest Run” from Forrest Gump.

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Why did you start running and what’s kept you running throughout the years?
I used to be really big, so I took up running on a treadmill to get in shape. I quickly realized how boring and monotonous it was. So I started running outside and I really enjoyed it. However, once the distances started to get longer, my interest in running started to decline. Then one day, I ran into Angie Smith at a Lakefront Marathon Build-up Run and she literally took me under her wing. She introduced me to people and then I started running with her, Mariya Sorensen, Paul Kopernik, Robert Kowalski and others. There hasn’t been a day since that I haven’t enjoyed a run. Even when I have to run alone, the anticipation of running with my buddies later that week or next week and chatting about our training and stuff is what really keeps me going. And there is also the fact that I don’t want to get big again and, due to my love for food, if I don’t run I’ll be a beach ball in no time.

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Fill in the blank: When I run, I feel _______!
Thankful and humble

What running goals are you looking to tackle in the next few years?
To be honest, I just want to keep running. But as far as goals go, I want to improve on my half marathon time and get in the 1:35 range. Besides that, it’ll be really cool to one day say that I ran Boston.

How are you involved in the local running community and what encouraged you to get involved?
The first thing I did was become a member of the Badgerland Striders, which has been incredible. It helped me identify racing events in MKE and I started volunteering at races. I love every bit of it. It is just so much fun and the gratitude that runners express toward volunteers is such a rewarding feeling. So, I do try to volunteer as much as I can. What prompted me to get involved is that I enjoy people watching and meeting people, so volunteering and being involved in the running community is a really good way of achieving both these things.

Sometimes people are intimidated to come to a running meetup – what would you tell these runners to encourage them to give it a try?
Over the past couple of years, I have realized how awesome runners are. I always tell people that really all they have to do is show up. The veteran group members do everything they can to make you feel comfortable and enjoy the workout. That’s why I am always trying to recruit people to come to speed workouts at the Hart Park track.

Where are you originally from – and what brought you to MKE? What is it like running in MKE compared with where you are from?
I am from Delhi, India. I came to MKE to attend Marquette University for an MS degree. Actually MKE is where I started running and to me I really don’t know anything else. I never really ran in Delhi so I cannot compare the two, but Delhi is a big and beautiful city with some hot/humid weather for most of the year. I would imagine that runs at dusk and dawn will be really nice there. I’ll definitely take my kicks with me when I go back and will share my experience.

Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?
I live in Wauwatosa and love running around Hart Park and Hansen Park. However, my favorite place to run is by Lake Michigan, especially the routes that we take during the Lakefront Marathon Build-up Runs.

What are some of your favorite Milwaukee races?
I really like the Hartfest Half in Wauwatosa, as it is a pretty decent-sized event, is right in my neighborhood and the food after the race is simply amazing. Last year, I ran the Lakefront Discovery Run and I had a blast. The creativity behind all the costumes was just mind-blowing. I also like the Lake Country Half in Oconomowoc.

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What makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?
I have lived in Milwaukee for almost six years now, and I think it is a nice-size city, which makes it perfect to run and workout. All the parks, trails and sidewalks are fairly well maintained and thus are good for running. The weather is also “pretty” good for running. However, the best part about running in MKE is the people. They are welcoming, appreciative and encouraging. There is always somebody either running, walking, biking or just hanging out. Once you put your shoes and get out the door, you just experience good positive vibes which are really something else.

Any other comments?
Running has changed my life. I know this will sound corny but I feel like it is my better half as it makes me better every time I am with it. I owe so much to it and to all the people who have become a significant part of my life. These are people whom I would have never met had it not been for running. These friendships are what I really cherish the most. I just have so much fun doing this that I am always on the hunt to get more people to run, which is weird considering that there was a time when I despised running.

Thanks for chatting with us, Praful!

Enjoy the rest of the week, everyone! And as always …

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Build Up Runs Start This Weekend! Plus, Join In For Local July Fun Runs!

Hey everyone! Who’s already counting down the minutes til the weekend is here??

In case you don’t already have it on your calendar, remember that this Saturday is the first Milwaukee Running Festival (MRF) Marathon and Half Marathon Buildup Run. The runs will be held at 8am on Saturday mornings leading up to race weekend. The start/finish location will be the Brady Street footbridge on Lincoln Memorial Drive just south of McKinley Marina.

This Saturday, marathon runners will run 8 miles and half marathon runners will run 3 miles. To see what distance the group will run each week or for more details about the buildup runs, visit the Milwaukee Running Festival website.

Note: The buildup runs on July 25th, August 9th and September 19th will take place starting at the Grant Park Clubhouse in South Milwaukee due to other events along the lakefront.

In addition to the MRF buildup runs, here are a few upcoming fun runs you won’t want to miss:

July 9 – MRF Thursday Night Social Run
6-7:30pm
Urban Ecology Center (Menomonee Valley)
3700 West Pierce Street, Milwaukee
Details: 5k on the Hank Aaron Trail; refreshments served post run

July 11 – Flapjack 5k Fun Run with Asics
8:30am
Performance Running Outfitters (Brookfield)
2205 N Calhoun Road, Brookfield
Details: Test out the new Asics Cumulus 17 shoes; enjoy flapjacks, coffee and a raffle post run

July 15 – Badgerland Striders President’s Fun Run
6:30pm
Hart Park, Wauwatosa
Details: 3 mile and 6 mile runs; refreshments served post run

July 16 – MRF Thursday Night Social Run
6-7:30pm
PNC Bank, Mitchell Park
1597 W National Ave, Milwaukee
Details: 4-miler through Mitchell Park; refreshments served post run

July 16 – Summer Sizzler Pub Run
6pm
Performance Running Outfitters (Shorewood)
4533 N Oakland Avenue, Shorewood
Details: 5k run through Shorewood; join the group at Three Lions Pub post run for discounted food and beverages

July 21 – Trail Fun Run with Saucony
6pm
Nashotah Park
W330n5113 County Rd C, Nashotah (Meet at the Park & Ride)
Details: Hosted by Performance Running Outfitters. Group will do a 5k. Test a pair of Saucony Nomad Trail shoes and be entered into a raffle to win a pair!

July 22 – Badgerland Striders Junk Food Fun Run
6:30pm
Veteran’s Park, Milwaukee
Details: 3 mile and 6 mile runs; junk food delights served post run

July 23 – MRF Thursday Night Social Run
6-7:30pm
Wild Workouts and Wellness
3056 South Delaware Avenue, Milwaukee
Details: 4-miler around the South Shore; refreshments served post run

July 25 – Flapjack 5k Fun Run with Adidas
8:30am
Performance Running Outfitters (Brookfield)
2205 N Calhoun Road, Brookfield
Details: Test out Adidas Sequence 8 shoes; enjoy flapjacks, coffee and a raffle post run

July 29 – Badgerland Striders Corn Roast Fun Run
6:30pm
Minooka Park #4 ($4 parking fee), Waukesha
Details: 3 mile and 6 mile runs; roasted corn and other refreshments served post run

July 30 – MRF Thursday Night Social Run
6-7:30pm
Pere Marquette Park, Milwaukee
Details: 3-miler on the Riverwalk; refreshments served post run

For more information about the fun runs, visit the following:

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!