Join in the Fun at Milwaukee Running Day!

Join your fellow running enthusiasts and come celebrate our city’s newest holiday: Milwaukee Running Day! Hosted by the Milwaukee Running Festival, this is a must-attend event for all runners in the MKE area.

Today we have Chris Ponteri, Executive Director of Milwaukee Marathon Inc., here to tell us all about the upcoming celebration. But before we get started, here are the specifics you’ll need to mark on your calendar:

What: Milwaukee Running Day

When: Thursday, June 2 @6:30pm

Where: Veteran’s Park

What is Milwaukee Running Day?

It’s a day to celebrate running and Milwaukee. We are planning a celebration event at Veteran’s Park that evening which will include a 4.14-mile fun run and a party with vendors and refreshments. We will also read a proclamation from Mayor Barrett declaring it Milwaukee Running Day, and who knows, maybe he will attend and read it in person.

Why did you decide to create a Milwaukee Running Day and how did you pick June 2 to celebrate the holiday?

National Running Day is June 1, and we thought the day might be best. That way, it could be a two-day celebration of the activity we all love so much.

Why should MKE runners join the event?

It will be a great way to meet like-minded people in a beautiful lakefront setting, get in some miles and talk running.

Can you tell us a bit about the course? What is the distance and where does the course travel?

The course is 4.14 miles (Milwaukee is the 414 area code, so why not?!?!?). It will start/finish near the lagoon in Veterans Park and stay on the Oak Leaf Trail. It is not a timed run and will be only for fun.

What’s happening after the run/walk portion of the event?

We plan to have plenty of food and beverages for purchase, will be playing music and should have most of the local running stores in attendance. We will have more details on this as the date gets closer. We are going to try to create a fun, running-themed atmosphere.

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

There is no need to register and it’s free. Just show up and enjoy. We have created a Facebook page and the link is here https://www.facebook.com/events/180282155694040/. This will have all of the details and current information.

Are walkers welcome? What about strollers and/or pets?

Walkers, strollers, pets are all welcome!

Who are the event sponsors?

This event was made possible by a generous donation from Running in the USA. Since it’s a free event and does not generate any revenue, it was important that we raise enough funds to cover the insurance and permit fees, and Running in the USA’s contribution did just that. We can’t thank Bill and Mary Flaws enough for making this happen.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Chris!

Will we see you at the upcoming Milwaukee Running Day celebration?

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Race It: Run Like A Mother 5k + A Race Entry Giveaway!

In honor of moms everywhere, Run Like A Mother is a 5k that’s all about making moms feel special. Below, Race Director Chris Ponteri tells us a bit about this year’s race and why you should consider joining in the fun, whether you are a mom yourself, are running with your mom or are racing in honor of your mom!

For race specifics, see our Featured Races page.

3132ks_0724-683x1024

Can you start off by telling us a bit about Run Like A Mother? How many years has the race been run in Milwaukee?

It is a 5k run/walk with mothers in mind. Since it’s held on Mother’s Day, we like to pamper mothers (and all finishers) and make them feel special. This is the 5th year. The first two years were held at Hoyt Park in Wauwatosa, then it moved to Veterans Park at the lakefront, and now the race will be back at Hoyt Park. I feel like the Tosa location is much better for an event like this. It just seems like the right home for us.

3132ks_0664-683x1024

What makes this race different/unique? Is it true only women can run the race?

It’s open to everyone, but we usually see about 99% of the participants being females. All finishers get a flower and a medal, which is something you typically don’t see in a 5k race. And the shirts are very high quality.

Tell us a bit about the race location and course – and do you have any course tips for runners hoping to run a fast time at the race?

The race starts in Hoyt Park and heads to the Oak Leaf Trail where there is an out-and-back, and then it finishes where it started. I would consider it a fast course since there aren’t too many turns and it’s fairly flat.

3132pk_1676-684x1024

What about the training plans offered on the race website – what types of plans are offered and who might they benefit?

Our running store partner – Performance Running Outfitters – is offering a training program to get beginners ready for their first 5k. You can find more information about this on our website or by contacting the Brookfield location.

Are there overall and/or age group prizes?

We will give awards to the top three overall finishers and have plenty of age group prizes.

3132ks_2183-683x1024

What do participants get with their race entry?

Everyone gets a nice bag and a very high quality shirt. Finishers get a medal and a flower.

Can you tell us a bit about this year’s nonprofit partner?

Our partner is the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation again this year. They do great work and are very supportive of local running events. We are happy to have them back.

Thanks for chatting with us, Chris!

Run Like A Mother is generously providing a race entry for one Keep Running MKE reader. To enter to win, answer the following question in the comments section:

What’s one thing you learned from Mom?

Best of luck to all who enter! We’ll announce the winner on Wednesday, March 30.

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

 

*Winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize by emailing keeprunningmke@gmail.com. If the prize is not claimed within that time frame, we will select a new winner.

Race It: Race for the Bacon 2016

If you love bacon as much as we do, this race is for you. Race for the Bacon is back for a 5th year and registration opens today!

We recently chatted with Race Director/Boss Hog Chris Ponteri about this year’s race. Read on to learn more about the course, the mid-race bacon station and the best way to eat a piece of bacon on the run!

For race specifics, visit our Featured Races page.

sm20140731_183602_IMG_0067Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

2016 marks the 5th year Milwaukee has raced for bacon – why is this such a popular event?
One reason: BACON!!!!!!

What’s happening at this year’s event? Will there be anything new or different to mark the event’s 5th birthday?
Wow, 5 years already! Everything will be business as usual this year. You hate to tinker with a format that works so well. Last year we added the 0k race, but this year will look very similar to last: lots of bacon.

Can you tell us about this year’s course? Are there any changes from last year?
The course will be identical to last year’s. We will start on Sheridan Drive again, then go on Lake Drive, and back through the park to the finish.

sm20140731_184928_IMG_0310Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

Will the race have a mid-race bacon station again? If so, do runners have to eat a piece of bacon to qualify for awards?
Yes, the bacon station will be back. There is no requirement to eat a piece (or six) during the race, but it has seemed to help the faster runners stay fueled down the stretch so I think everyone should try it.

sm20140731_184618_IMG_0216Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

Do you have any tips for grabbing and eating a piece of bacon during the race?
Savor it; do not try to swallow it whole.

Last year the race introduced the 0K – will this be part of the event again?
Yes, the 0k will be back. This was started as a fun way for non-runners to attend the post-race Bacon Bash without having the complete a 5k. I think we had about 50 people do it. They also get one of our cool shirts.

What’s on the menu for this year’s Bacon Bash?
Lots of bacon and other things that only taste good because they have bacon in them.

Just for fun: What’s the Boss Hog’s favorite way to eat bacon?
On a BLT sandwich without the tomato, lettuce or bread.

Any other comments?
As the wise Homer Simpson once said, “Mmmmm….bacon.”

Thanks for chatting with us, Chris!

Who will we see at this year’s Race for the Bacon? And, who’s planning to eat a piece of bacon – or two or three – mid race?

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Race Preview: Gold Medal Challenge 2016

Every year, MKE runners look forward to the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon, Half Marathon, Marathon Relay and 5k. All are wonderful events that are as fun as they are competitive.

And for those who really love a good challenge – and lots of running in circles indoors – there’s the Gold Medal Challenge. Two days of running, 39.3 miles. This year’s challenge kicks off on Saturday so today Race Director Chris Ponteri is here to tell us more about the challenge and share this year’s top contenders.

sm20150124_070342_IMG_0081Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

Tell us a bit about the Gold Medal Challenge – What do participants need to do to complete the challenge? Why do you think this type of challenge appeals to runners?
To complete the Gold Medal Challenge you must run the Half Marathon on Saturday and the Marathon on Sunday. We then add up your times to determine the winners. I think it appeals to runners who like to push themselves. Many of them are ultra runners.

Can you tell us a bit about the history of the Gold Medal Challenge? How did it get started and how many years has it been run?
This is the eighth Icebreaker and the seventh time we have done the Gold Medal Challenge. I copied the idea from the Goofy Challenge, which is part of the Disney Marathon.

What are some memorable moments from past Gold Medal Challenges?
One of the highlights was last year when both the male and female winners (Matt Jacobson and Ruth Lunz) had a small lead over the second place person after the Half Marathon and decided to employ a similar strategy on Sunday, which was to follow the second-place person as long as possible. In both cases, the second-place runners ended up falling back. It was a smart strategy by the winners.

sm20150125_122242_IMG_1393Last year’s Gold Medal Challenge winners, Matt Jacobson and Ruth Lunz. Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

Another highlight came several years ago when the male GMC winner, Mac McCauley, swept both the Marathon and the Half Marathon. That is the only time that has happened, although a few others have come close.

What’s the best strategy for completing the Gold Medal Challenge in one piece? Also, any tips for runners hoping to win or place?
The key is to take it easy in the Half Marathon. If you are a 1:30 half runner, you will want to finish around 1:35. The best strategy I can offer for winning is to know where the competition is at all times.

Who are this year’s top contenders and what makes them ones to watch? Are any past winners returning this year?
The favorites on the women’s side are three-time champion Mary Flaws and Icebreaker newcomer Kim Arbinger. Mary is running very well right now and had a big year in 2015 while Kim is coming off a strong finish at the Lakefront Marathon (3:25) and a third-place finish at the Glacial 50-miler. Both ladies put in a lot of miles and should challenge each other. On the men’s side, it is wide open.

sm20150125_080416_IMG_0053Mary Flaws, in blue, is a top contender in this year’s Gold Medal Challenge. Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

Are spectators welcome at the races? What makes the indoor races especially exciting to watch?
Spectators are certainly welcome and admission is free. It’s a real treat to watch these races because how many times can you see a distance race up close like this? In outdoor races you are lucky to see a certain runner 2 or 3 times, but here you can see them every lap. The spectating experience is as unique as the running experience.

Thanks for chatting with us, Chris! If you’re interested in checking out this weekend’s Icebreaker events, visit indoormarathon.com to get the full schedule. We hope to see you at one or more of the distance events!

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Race It: Town Bank Turkey Trot 5k + Race Entry Giveaway!

Just like no Thanksgiving table is complete without a turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, no runner’s Thanksgiving holiday is complete without a few miles before the feast!

One way you can get your miles in is by racing the Town Bank Turkey Trot, which is quickly becoming one of the most popular Thanksgiving races in the area. We recently chatted with race director, Chris Ponteri, to learn more about this year’s event.

For race specifics, visit our Featured Races page.

sm20141127_083226_IMG_0028Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

Can you tell us a bit about this year’s event and if there is anything new or different planned?
This year’s Town Bank Turkey Trot will be similar to what we have done in past years. It’s a fun, family-oriented 5k race in scenic Burlington, which is one of those cities where it seems like Thanksgiving all year. It’s just a very nice community with lots of parks and water.

sm20141127_083424_IMG_0096Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

About how many participants are you expecting this year? What do you think makes Thanksgiving such a popular day to race?
We are expecting 700 participants. The race has grown all 5 years. Turkey Trots have become such a great tradition on Thanksgiving morning in so many communities. I’m not really sure why. We draw a lot of repeat runners, many of whom are families and friends.

What should participants know about the course?
The course is probably the most beautiful in the area. Much of it goes along the Fox River. There is a good mix of streets and paved path. It’s very diverse. It goes through the woods and neighborhoods and finishes on the Riverwalk.

sm20141127_085516_IMG_0283Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

What do participants get with their race registration?
Everyone receives a goody bag and a long-sleeve tech shirt.

Can you tell us a bit about the Team option?
You can register as part of a team. The top three teams (you need at least three runners to be part of a team) based on lowest combined time will get special awards.

What type of awards will be given out at the end of the race?
The top three overall men and women will get a trophy, and the top three men and women in each age group (5-year increments) will get a medal.

Who is this year’s non-profit partner and how does the race benefit this organization?
Our charity partner is Love, Inc. again this year. They do so many good things in Western Racine County. We are raising money and food for their food pantry.

Can you tell us a bit about the raffle and how runners/walkers can earn raffle tickets?
For each non-perishable food item you bring to the race, you will receive a raffle ticket for a drawing for turkeys and pies. Last year we had over 40 pies and six turkeys. The food is donated to the food panty at Love, Inc.

Thanks for chatting with us, Chris!

One lucky Keep Running MKE reader will win a free entry to this year’s Town Bank Turkey Trot, courtesy of Chris and team! To enter to win a free race entry, tell us in the comments section:

What are you most looking forward to eating this Thanksgiving?

Best of luck to all who enter. We’ll announce the winner on Monday, November 23.

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Race It: Around the World in 5k

It’s not often you can travel the world in the time it takes to race a 5k. But the upcoming Around the World in 5k offers just that.

Below, Race Director Chris Ponteri tells us more about this year’s race, including exciting course updates!

For race specifics, please see our Featured Races page.

5kRun

Can you tell us a bit about the Around the World in 5k? What makes this race special?
It’s a flat and fast 5k run/walk and ends with a trip to the Holiday Folk Fair in the Wisconsin State Fair Exposition Hall. If you’ve never been to the Folk Fair, get ready for an international taste bud sensation! There is food from many different countries, as well as dancing and other cultural activities.

Is there anything new or different happening at this year’s race?
The course! Instead of winding through State Fair Park, the entire race will be held on the historic Milwaukee Mile, which is the oldest race track in the United States.

Can you tell us about this year’s course? How would you rate the difficulty of the course on a scale of 1-5 (1 = easiest)?
Since the race will be held on the track this is a 1+. It is flat and since the track is so long, the turns are very gradual. Get ready for a great time!

What do participants get with their race entry?
A shirt and admission to the Holiday Folk Fair.

What types of overall/age group awards are offered?
The top three men and women in the following age groups will receive awards: 14-17, 18-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70+. There are no overall awards.

Can you tell us a bit about the race’s charitable partner? Is there a way for people to contribute to the cause at the race?
A portion of the race proceeds will support the Salvation Army’s Homeless Children’s Program, while the balance will be used to provide educational opportunities to help children take pride in their own cultures while developing respect and tolerance for other cultures through the International Institute of Wisconsin. There will be representatives from the Salvation Army on hand to accept donations.

In your opinion, what are the best Holiday Folk Fair foods to indulge in after the race?
Last year, I went straight to the France exhibit and got pastries, then to Mexico for a tamale.

Thanks for chatting with us, Chris!

Join the conversation: What Holiday Folk Fair foods would you indulge in after the race?

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Charting the Race Course

When most of us think about a race course, chances are, it’s mostly about how flat or hilly it is and perhaps the aid station locations. But did you ever think about the planning that goes into the course for a major race?

We recently chatted with Chris Ponteri, Executive Director of Milwaukee Marathon, Inc., and got the scoop on what went into planning the courses for the upcoming Milwaukee Running Festival.

988938_845634288811691_9120665837765496413_n

Can you tell us a bit about the planning that goes into the courses for a major event like this one?
My background has been in planning races with 1,000 runners or less, so this has been quite a learning experience. There are so many things that go into planning a major event like this. From small things like choosing the size of the stage for the expo speakers to big things like how many EMS units to have on the course, it’s a huge undertaking. I can’t begin to describe the enormity of setting something up like this. And this has been done with minimal staff.

When did you start planning the race courses? What was the process for getting them approved?
The original work on the courses was started a few years ago. Over time, changes were made for this reason and that reason. Just last week there were a half a dozen changes made to the marathon course. They are always a work in progress due to construction or logistical concerns. In fact, our marathon course is still not finalized because it is in the process of being certified to make it a Boston qualifier. So even though our GPS measurements say it’s 26.2 miles, it’s likely shorter than that and distance will need to be added somewhere.

How did you decide on the course locations and path traveled? Were there any factors that influenced the courses?
We tried to strike a balance between going big and going small. By big, I mean major urban arteries like Wisconsin Avenue, and by small I mean trails like the Hank Aaron State Trail. If you are paying $90 to run an urban marathon, you want to make sure you get the urban experience. But at the same time, if every street on the route was a major one it would make police costs and barricade rental costs too expensive.

Do things like water stations, port-a-potties, and other types of aid stations require additional permits? Also, how did you decide where to place these stations on the course?
We did not have to get any permits for those types of things. The permits we have gotten are from the city, county and state for use of their land by runners. We have 18 aid stations on the marathon course, which I think is higher than your average marathon, but we wanted to make sure our participants were safe. We chose locations by distance from the previous aid station more than anything.

Were there any landmarks, hills, bridges or other components you really wanted to include in the courses?
Obvious things like the Milwaukee Art Museum and lakefront needed to be on the course, but we are also very pleased to be going through or by several county and city parks in both the marathon and half marathon. We wanted to make sure we were going by the corporate headquarters for two iconic Milwaukee companies: Harley and Miller. My personal favorite landmarks are all on the marathon course: Sherman Boulevard, the VA Grounds, and the Journey House Packer Practice Field in Mitchell Park. The marathon runners are really in for a treat.

Can you rate the difficulty of the race courses (marathon, half marathon, 5k, 1-mile) on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the hardest?
I would rank the marathon course as a 3 on difficulty level. There are more hills than you think there would be in Milwaukee, but none of them are crazy hard. Whatever the hills add to your time the cool weather will more than make up for it.

Marathon course, as of today

The half marathon course is much easier than the marathon course since most of the hills are on the west portion of the marathon course. I would give it a 2 on difficulty level, and that’s mainly because of the early hill on Lincoln Memorial Drive.

The 5k and 1-mile courses are very flat and are a 1 on the difficulty scale. The 5k course sticks to the lakefront and is very scenic. I am particularly proud of the 1-mile course. It’s entirely within the confines of the Harley-Davidson Museum grounds and is actually quite beautiful. I think people are going to be very surprised when they see how cool that mile course is!

What can you tell us about course set-up and take-down? How many volunteers are needed?
Course setup will begin on Friday afternoon and will continue on Saturday and into early Sunday morning. We have trucks that bring out aid station supplies and tables, other trucks with cones and signs, and we have hired a company to put out all of the barricades (we need over 1,000 of them!).

Any other comments?
I can’t even begin to tell you how humbled I have been by the support of so many people in the Milwaukee running community. There is a long list of people who, without their help, this would not have been possible. It takes so much teamwork to get to the point where we are. I just wish I could properly express my gratitude in words to all of those people who have worked so passionately to make this happen. They know who they are.

Thanks for chatting with us, Chris! There’s still time to register for the inaugural Milwaukee Running Festival. To learn more about the races or to regsiter, visit milwaukeerunningfestival.com.

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!