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.


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.


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.

ScreenHunter_93 Aug. 09 16.25

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!

Race It: Lake Michigan Trail Marathon + A Race Entry Giveaway!

We’re just a few days away from September , which in our minds means fall – specifically fall running and racing. And one of the very first local distance races on the fall calendar is the Lake Michigan Trail Marathon.

When: Sunday, September 6; start time varies by event
Where: Sheridan Park, Cudahy
Cost: $90 for the 50k; $80 for the marathon; $60 for the half marathon; $20 for the 20-mile training run

Below, race director Chris Ponteri gives us an update on what to expect at this year’s race!


Can you tell us a bit about the Lake Michigan Trail Marathon? How many runners are you expecting at the event?

It’s a unique race; it’s urban yet scenic. One minute you are running on a trail through the woods and the next minute you are running on a bluff with a spectacular view of the Milwaukee skyline. We are expecting between 600 and 800 runners this year.

Have there been any race changes/updates since the race was announced at the start of the year?
We had hoped to use the Grant Park Beach, but the Lake Michigan water level is still high so we are going with the same route as last year.

It sounds like there is a distance for everyone. Can you go over the options?
We have a 50k ultra-marathon, a regular ole’ 26.2-mile marathon, a half marathon and a 20-mile distance.

The 20-mile training run option is really unique – can you tell us more about it and why you decided to include it?
It’s really meant to appeal to those training for a fall marathon like Chicago, the Milwaukee Running Festival or the Lakefront. It gives runners a race experience, but it’s not timed nor do they get finisher medals. The price is just $20 in advance and $30 the day of the race.

When is the deadline to register online? Can runners register on race day?
Online registration is open at www.lakemichiganmarathon.com through Sept. 3 and race-day registration is available beginning at 5 a.m. at Sheridan Park #1.

Are there any plans to expand the event in upcoming years, i.e. adding shorter distances, etc.?
I am definitely considering adding a 5k, but no guarantees on that.

Are volunteers needed? If so, who should interested people contact to learn more/sign up?
Believe it or not, we are all set with volunteers. We have some great groups helping out including the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, the Friends of Grant Park, the Friends of Sheridan Park, Starting Line Athletics and the South Milwaukee High School cross country team.

Any other comments?
Many runners said last year’s race shirt was one of their favorites of all-time. This year we believe we have come up with something even better.

Thanks for chatting with us about the race, Chris! If you’d like to learn more about the upcoming race, here’s how you can connect:

Website: http://lakemichiganmarathon.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lakemichiganmarathon
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lakemarathon

Who wants to win a race entry?
The Lake Michigan Trail Marathon has generously provided a race entry for one lucky Keep Running MKE reader.

To enter to win a free race entry, tell us in the comments section:

What is the most beautiful course you ever raced?

Best of luck to all who enter. We’ll announce the winner on Tuesday, September 1.

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Lake Michigan Trail Marathon Race Entry Giveaway Winner!

Hey Friends – It’s time to find out the winner of the Lake Michigan Trail Marathon race entry!


The winner is … Lyndsay S! Please email us within the next 48 hours at keeprunningmke@gmail.com to claim your prize.

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway! If you’re still interested in racing the Lake Michigan Trail Marathon, you can register for the race here: http://www.zapevent.com/listactivities.aspx?eventid=6754

And stay tuned – we have another race preview + race entry giveaway hitting the blog later this week!

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Race It: Lake Michigan Trail Marathon + Race Entry Giveaway!

Offering a gorgeous course along the South Shore lakefront and the camaraderie of friendly runners, the Lake Michigan Trail Marathon is a fall race not to be missed.

Registration for the 2015 event opened yesterday. The race will be held Sunday, Sept. 6 and will start and finish at Sheridan Park.

Below, Race Director Chris Ponteri gives us the scoop on this year’s race.


Can you tell us a bit about the Lake Michigan Trail Marathon? What makes this race different/unique?
The Lake Michigan Trail Marathon brings the trail-running experience to the city. It features some of the most scenic trails in the area, all located within close proximity to the City of Milwaukee and Lake Michigan. We had many people come up and tell us after last year’s race that it is was the most beautiful course they’ve ever run.


Are there any changes from last year’s race?
For the most part, everything will be the same. We learned some things from an organizational standpoint last year that will require changes this year (like better course markings in the wooded areas), but for the most part, the event will look the same. We are just hopeful that there won’t be a dense fog so runners can actually see the lake.

Can you tell us about the distance options?
There is a Marathon, Half Marathon, 50k and 20-mile training run.

What is the course like? And any tips for runners hoping to PR?
It’s not a very hilly course, but since there are trails and some beach it’s not real fast. If you are looking to run a PR, it might not be the best race for you. I wouldn’t say it’s a difficult course either, but not easy.

Being a trail race, what should runners expect compared to a road race? Any tips for training for a trail race?
The biggest difference between a trail race and a road race is the laid back atmosphere. Many of the runners are there just to experience nature in a race situation, and are not always competitive about it. The best way to train for this race is to make sure you get out on the course at least a few times to make sure you know what you’re in for.


What types of aid stations will be available on the course?
We will have aid stations every 2 to 2.5 miles with a variety of items including water, a sports drink and food.

Will overall and/or age group prizes be awarded?
The top three male and female finishers in each event, except the 20-mile training run, will get a nice plaque, and the top three male and female runners in each age group will get medals.

What do participants get with their race entry?
All runners will get a high-quality technical shirt and goodie bag. All finishers will get a medal.

We know you want to run this event …

And one lucky Keep Running MKE reader will win a free entry to the race! To enter, tell us in the comments:

What’s your best tip for running or racing on the trails? If you’ve never run or raced on trails, tell us why you want to give it a try!

Best of luck to all who enter. We’ll announce the winner on Tuesday, February 10.

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: Lake Michigan Trail Marathon

Get excited, MKE – we’re just a few days away from the inaugural Lake Michigan Trail Marathon!

Below, Race Director Chris Ponteri tells us a bit about the distance options and what to expect on the course.


Can you tell us a bit about the Lake Michigan Trail Marathon? How did you come up with the idea for the race?
The Oak Leaf Trail along the south shore of Lake Michigan is one of my favorite places to run. One day I discovered some of the dirt trails that connect the Oak Leaf to the wooded areas of both Grant and Warnimont Parks and thought it would make a good course for a long race.

What makes this race different/unique?
The varying types of terrain – paved surfaces, dirt, sandy beach, brick and grass all in one race.

Can you tell us about the different distance options?
We have a 50k, marathon and half marathon distance. We also have a 20-miler, but it is not a timed race; it’s more of a long training run for those who want to be a part of the race.

From what we’ve read, the course seems challenging – is a PR possible for runners?
I don’t think I would describe it as challenging; there are very few hills. It is definitely not a fast course since about a mile is on the beach, but not overly difficult either.

*After we interviewed Chris, it was announced the beach portion may not be used within the race courses. From a recent email: “Due to high-water levels, the beach portion of the course will likely not be used. There will be an alternate route heading north in Grant Park that will include both road and trail. We apologize for the late change, but the Lake Michigan water levels are as high as they have been in over a decade. The alternate route will make the course slightly easier (no running in the sand!) but not quite as scenic.”

Do runners need to bring their own hydration or are there water stations along the course?
We will have plenty of aid stations, usually not more than 2 to 2.5 miles apart.

Will overall and/or age group prizes be awarded?
Yes, we have prizes for the top 3 male and female overall finishers in each race (excluding the 20-miler) and also age group awards.

What do participants get with their race entry?
They get a nice tech shirt, a high-quality reusable race bag, and food after the race.

What goals do you have for the race in upcoming years? Any plans to add a shorter distance like a 5k or 10k?
Everything’s on the table! First-year races are a grand experiment. We could add distances next year or even take away.

If you could have anyone come run the Lake Michigan Trail Marathon, who would you invite and why?
I would invite Ben Gibbard (lead singer for Death Cab for Cutie and Postal Service) to join us and then play a post-race concert. I know he has done some marathons and maybe even a trail 50k.

Thanks for chatting with us, Chris! There’s still time to get in on the action – race-day registration is available for all race distances. Will we see you on Sunday? 🙂

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Lake Michigan Trail Marathon Will Offer Two Course Runs

Mark your calendars, MKE – the Lake Michigan Trail Marathon is hosting two course runs in the upcoming weeks. This is your chance to get familiar with the race course and also enjoy some time with your fellow runners!


Here are the details for meetups:

Dates: Saturday, July 12 and Saturday, August 9

Time: 7 am

Location: Sheridan Drive, in front of the Patrick Cudahy statue

Details: Participants can choose between two options: the south loop, which is about 9.5 miles and the entire course, which is about 15.5 miles. Both courses will be marked and there will be water and sports drink at the start, 9,5 mile mark and the finish. Runners are encouraged to bring their own beverages for during the run. A course leader will run with the group, around a 9:00-9:30 min/mile pace.

For more information about the Lake Michigan Trail Marathon or the upcoming course runs, visit www.lakemichiganmarathon.com.

That’s it for today – We look forward to seeing you at the course runs!

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

New This Fall: The Lake Michigan Trail Marathon!

Attention MKE Runners: There’s a new marathon in town!


The Lake Michigan Trail Marathon (a Boston qualifier!) will make its debut over Labor Day weekend in the Milwaukee County Parks along the shore of Lake Michigan. The event will also include a 50-kilometer race, a half marathon and a 20-mile “training run”.

“Instead of leaving town to  go to the Kettle Moraine State Forest for a long trail race, we are bringing in the trail race here to the city,” said event director Chris Ponteri.  “We are calling it an ‘urban trail experience’”.

Registration opens on Monday, February 3 at 9 a.m., and the link to the registration site can be found on the event website at www.lakemichiganmarathon.com

Here are the details:

Date: Sunday, August 31

Location: Sheridan Park, Cudahy

Cost: Marathon – $70 February 1 to June 30; $80 July 1 to September 3; $90 on race-day; 50k – $80 February 1 to June 30; $90 July 1 to September 3; $100 on race-day; Half Marathon – $45 February 1 to June 30; $55 July 1 to September 3; $65 on race-day; 20-Mile Training Run – $20

Details: All participants for the chip-timed marathon, 50k and half marathon will receive a tech shirt, a high-quality finisher’s medal and reusable goody bag.  The top 3 male and female overall finishers will receive special awards. The top 3 male and female finishers in each age group will also receive an award. For the 20-mile “training run”, participants will get a shirt and a bag, but not a finisher’s medal.

Website: www.lakemichiganmarathon.com

The capacity for all four events combined is 1,200 runners.  This includes 400 for the half marathon, 300 for the marathon, 300 for the 50k and 200 for the 20-miler.

The course will wind through South Shore Park and Bay View Park in Milwaukee, Warnimont Park in Cudahy and Grant Park in South Milwaukee.  Much of the course will be on the paved Oak Leaf Trail, however the course will also go “off road” and venture deep into the woods where runners will find the dirt-covered Forked Aster and the Seven Bridges Hiking Trails.  They will even run a little over a mile on the sandy beach in Grant Park.

“This is not a difficult course as far as trail races go,” Ponteri said. “But what makes it so unique is that runners will get to experience a lot of different types of terrain and also have some spectacular views of the lake.”

Despite the trails and sand, Ponteri thinks it will be a good course to run a decent marathon time.  The course for the marathon will take runners on a south loop to Grant Park, then a north out-and-back to South Shore Park followed by another south loop. There are not many big hills or sharp turns. The slowest part of the course will be the portion on the beach, due to the sand.

The 50k (31.1 mile) race will include two south loops and two north out-and-backs.  The half marathon runners will do the south loop and an abbreviated out-and-back to the north.  The 20-mile course will be similar to the marathon but the second south loop will be shortened.

 One of the goals of the race is to educate and raise awareness of the Milwaukee County Park System, especially along the south shore of Lake Michigan.  A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Friends of Grant Park.  A second charity partner is the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

Sponsors include Performance Running Outfitters and Running in the USA.

So, that’s the scoop, runners! Who’s planning to join us at the race?

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!