Race It: Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon 5k

For those of you not already signed up for this year’s Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, consider running the inaugural Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon 5k! Whether you want to test your speed in a shorter distance or want to get in a few miles while waiting for family and friends running the marathon to cross the finish line, this is a great race to add to your fall calendar.

What: Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon 5k

When: Sunday, October 2 @8:30am

Where: Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee


Runners start in front of the Milwaukee Art Museum and follow a course that goes around Lakeshore Park before winding through Veterans Park for a loop around the lagoon before crossing the same finish line as the marathon runners.

Chip timing is available for the race and there is a 60-minute cutoff time. Awards will be given to the Top 3 Overall Male and Female winners as well as the Male and Female Overall Masters winners. Age group prizes will also be awarded.

Participants who register before September 21 are guaranteed a race t-shirt. All participants will enjoy snacks and free beer from MKE brewing after the race.

All proceeds will be donated to the Milwaukee Police Department Endurance Club for use in purchasing updated recreational equipment for the MPD.

To learn more and to register for the race, visit the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon 5k website: https://www.zapevent.com/reg/event/11365

Will we see you on Oct. 2?

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!












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!
• 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.


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!


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 … Nick Szczech

There’s fast and then there’s FAST. And Nick Szczech definitely belongs in the FAST category. The 25-year-old Milwaukee native already has a marathon win under his belt (Lakefront Marathon 2011 – his marathon debut!) and is looking to shave a few minutes off that time to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials.

We recently chatted with Nick to learn more about his training, favorite workouts and goals for the next few years.


Age: 25
Team affiliation: Performance Running Outfitters Racing Team; formerly ran for Marquette University’s Cross Country and Track Teams
Years running: 11
Favorite workout: 8-10 mile tempo runs
If you could run with anyone, who would you run with: Paula Radcliffe
Pre-race routine: I drink coffee, eat oatmeal with some peanut butter and applesauce, and read Letsrun.com
Favorite post-race treat: A double Sobelman’s burger
Favorite distance to race: 10K on the track or a 10 miler on the roads
Significant wins/placings: Won the 2011 Lakefront Marathon and 2011 Al’s Run, among others


Why did you start running?
I was always one of the fastest on my grade school soccer team, and I decided to switch up my choice of sport at Thomas More, running cross country instead of soccer.

I definitely have a “type-A” personality, so running and training structures my day. I also love the camaraderie of races and the mental toughness you develop through the training. I also feel flat and sluggish when I am not running, so it helps me clear my head.

What does a typical training week look like for you?
While training for 10Ks and longer races, I usually run between 75-95 miles per week with a weekly long run where I attempt to negative split the second half of the run, some short hill sprints for strength and power, lots of medium-paced runs, and one workout (usually a long tempo or repeat intervals).

Do you have any key workouts that let you know you’re ready to race?
I love doing progressive tempo runs, usually 10 miles, starting at 6:00 pace and decreasing 5-10 seconds every mile until I’m running 4:50 pace for the last few miles. I then know I have both the fitness and mental toughness to race anything from a 5k up to the marathon.

Can you tell us a bit about your first marathon – Lakefront Marathon 2011. What goals did you have going into the race?
I had just finished running at Marquette, and during the spring of 2011, I ran a fairly fast 10k. I knew I had residual fitness from track training, so I wanted to utilize that to run a fast marathon. Life seems to get in the way if you wait too long to race marathons. I was very intimidated by the distance, but I usually set two goals when racing—a stretch goal and a realistic goal. My stretch goal was to run an Olympic Trials Qualifier (2:19 at the time), and the realistic one was to run somewhere in the 2:20s. The goal was to win and just get my feet wet with the distance. Looking back—I think I could have upped the mileage slightly and completed a few longer tempo runs, too. Otherwise, I was really happy with the race.


Have you raced any marathons since your first?
I have not raced any marathons since 2011. I was in Austin, Texas for graduate school, and I have had a few minor injuries that have set back my mileage build-ups in the last two years.

You’re so close to the Olympic Trials Qualifying Time for the marathon distance. Are you looking to lower your time to meet the standard?
I am looking to lower my time. I was thinking this fall/winter would be the target, but my build-up has been slower than I thought. I am hoping to use the winter to gain more fitness, so the goal is a spring marathon. I’m thinking Grandma’s or Green Bay.

What running goals are you looking to tackle in the next few years?
I hope to lower my best times in all distances from the 5k up to the marathon. My long-term goal is to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the marathon. Additionally, I am the assistant coach at Shorewood High School for girls’ cross country and track. I hope to help the girls improve while also cultivating in them the same love of running I gained from my high school and college coaches.


Do you have any advice for runners who want to improve their race times?
Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. The body has a remarkable ability to adapt and handle stress. Push the boundaries of your training. I think long runs, long hill repeats, strides and tempo runs are the best ways to increase race fitness.

What are your favorite Milwaukee races?
Al’s Run is my favorite Milwaukee race. I just ran the Race for the Bacon 5k, which was really fun, and the Lakefront Marathon (of course).

Where are your favorite places to run in Milwaukee?
I love starting at South Shore Park and heading south on the Oak Leaf, and I also love the trails in the Seminary Woods in Bay View as well as anywhere in Grant Park.

In general, what makes Milwaukee a great place for runners?
There are plenty of soft surfaces. The (running) weather is great from March through November, and there are great resources for every ability level—Performance Running Outfitters, Badgerland Striders, and many, many more! The winter also makes us much tougher than runners from other regions.

Thanks for chatting with us, Nick! If you’re a runner in MKE, we’d love to hear your story. 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!

Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon Race Recap

Despite a changeable forecast in the days leading up to the 33rd annual Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, it turned out to be a beautiful day to run a marathon.

sm20131006_072854_img_0026Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

More than 2,100 runners finished this year’s race. Winning the men’s race was Ryan Meissen of Mukwanago with a time of 2:28:23. Finishing 2nd and 3rd were Zachary Meineke of Wauwatosa and Josh Kaplan of Portland, Oregon.


Meissen leading the race

Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

The winner of the women’s race was Melissa Burkart of Hudson, Wisconsin with a time of 2:45:31. Finishing 2nd and 3rd were Amanda Daws and Ruth Swedler, both from Milwaukee.

sm20131006_081714_img_0057Burkart on her way to this year’s women’s title

Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

The top male and female Masters winners were Eric Pilling and Kit McCaffrey. The top male and female Grandmasters winners were Tim Stieber and Georgine Kudrna.

One of our absolute favorite things about local races is seeing so many familiar faces both before, during and after the race. It ends up being a running reunion of sorts. Here’s who we spotted on Sunday:

  • Brittany Schepp – Keeping a steady pace early in the race
  • Jennifer Hubbart – On her way to a new marathon PR
  • Lisa Ehlke – Running a fantastic 3:51 time for her first marathon
  • Jeff Dallmann – Running strong throughout the race
  • Alice Ambrowiak – Running her 9th Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon
  • Michelle Zerzanek – Speeding through the miles to win an Age Group award.
  • Arun Sarkar, Patrick Bieser, Lynn Balistreri and many others from the Milwaukee Running Group
  • Sara Brozek – A nice strong finish for her first marathon
  • Melissa Moore – Surpassing her expectations for the race
  • Mary Flaws – Finishing the race with her training partner
  • Rachel Goeden – Running her way to a new PR

We hope everyone had a great race. From what we’ve heard, it sounds like there were a lot of PRs and plenty of fantastic memories that came out of this race.

sm20131006_083322_img_0118Photo by Bill Flaws – Running in the USA

Congrats to everyone who participated and thanks to the Badgerland Striders for once again organizing a fantastic event!

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Are You Ready for 26.2? Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon is Just a Few Days Away!

We’re less than a week out from one of MKE’s most celebrated races – the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon!

We recently had a quick chat with this year’s race director, Dr. Jon Mueller, to learn more about this year’s race, which takes place on Sunday, Oct. 6. Read on to find out what runners can expect, get course tips and learn just how fast you need to run to break the current course records.lakefrontLogo

As always, LFM sold out several months in advance of the race. Why do you think the race is such a popular one in the area?

This year we opened registration on January 14, and by April 13 we reached our maximum capacity of 3,100 runners. I believe this was 2-3 days earlier than last year.

There are several factors that I feel contribute to this: first, the Badgerland Striders good reputation, both locally and nationally, for putting on a quality race despite being an all-volunteer club. Second, the price is very affordable compared to other local races (some half marathons in the area charge more for their races then we do for ours). Third, we have become known as a fast and rather easy course; about 20 percent of our finishers qualify for Boston and 30 percent are first-time marathoners.

This is your first year as the LFM race director – what has the year been like?

It has been a very exciting and energizing experience for me. The Striders have an amazing pool of talented, very knowledgeable and dedicated people who stepped into key positions that I needed to fill. They have mentored me, encouraged me and they have totally supported my vision and goals for the marathon.

And now, we get to see all of our hard work pay off by watching hundreds of fellow runners have the thrill of being at our start, running our course, and coming across our finish line to accomplish a single, yet unified goal, to finish a marathon.

This is what motivates the Striders as a running club and why I decided to become the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon director; to help runners realize their dreams and goals.

What should runners expect at this year’s race?

The same high quality expo and well-managed race course will be waiting for them as it has been in the past. As our logo says – this is a run “By Runners. For Runners.” I believe we understand what type of experience runners want because most of us are runners ourselves. It has always been our goal to provide our runners everything they could find at larger marathons, but obviously on a smaller scale.

splash-imageRunners on course!

Is there anything new or different happening this year?

There are several new events and services that we have put in place this year. Our expo and packet pick-up will feature mini seminars throughout the day on topics ranging from training, motivation and injury prevention. At the finish-line area we have two first-time events taking place: first we have Noodles & Company sponsoring the food tent in the runners secured area – they will be offering three types of pasta to aid the finishers’ recovery. Secondly, we have a post-race party tent with live music, beverages and food. We want to encourage the spectators and runners to hang around a bit and have some fun celebrating their achievement.

Our kids running program “I can 26.2 it” concludes with the kids running the last 1.2 miles on Sunday morning by crossing the same finish line and receiving a finisher’s medal just like those runners completing the marathon will a short time later.

Also new this year, as part of the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon festivities, we will be hosting our first-ever “Community Unity” run. It will be 2.62-mile fun run, traveling alongside Lake Michigan and the Veterans Park lagoon. This charity run starts at 8:30am on Oct. 6th. Participants will be supporting Girls on the Run and the Milwaukee Police Department Endurance Club. All donations will assist them in continuing the excellent work they do daily for keeping our local youth active, inspired, educated and empowered … all through running. Anyone can register for this unique event by going to our website at milwaukeelakefrontmarathon.org and following the information on the home page.

What is the course like?

The course starts at Grafton High School and winds it way south through seven communities before it finishes at Veterans Park at the Milwaukee lakefront. The first several miles of the course consist of gentle rolling country roads and wide running lanes. For miles 7-8 the course winds through Concordia College and offers the first view of the lake. During miles 8-14, the running lane becomes a little narrower because of the gradual residential influence on the course. From mile 14-23.5, the runners are running more on a combination of road and the shoulder of the road mainly because the course shares its running lane with a much busier traveled road. At approximately mile 23.5, the course shifts onto a paved bike path that runs along the lakefront to the finish line. This part of the course often gives the runners their greatest and also unexpected challenge of the entire course. Because it is the flattest part of the course, most runners take it for granted that they can just cruise though this and then are hit right in the face with the usual seasonal, and sometimes strong, wind that comes directly out of the south. Combine this with legs that are already tired, fatigue setting in, and you have a combination of things just right to catch the runners off guard.

The last 1.2 miles brings the runners into a picturesque finish line chute lined with spectators cheering the runners on and where a wonderful finisher medal will be waiting to be placed around their necks.

So the best advice I can give runners for this course is to start off a little slower – let the course warm you up and get you up to speed, but keep a little in reserve for the unexpected surprises awaiting them over the last 3 miles and to the finish.

Full_Marathon_MapThis year’s course map – for a better look, visit the marathon’s website

Who are the top contenders for overall male and female this year?

This year anything is up for grabs. We do not have the returning male and female runners from last year. We do have a little bigger men and women’s elite running field then the last couple of years.

Do any other runners stand out?

We have three registered runners who have run all of the 32 Lakefront Marathons. They are Jim Bahr, Bill Boeham and Duane Tate. That’s pretty cool.

We also have seven international runners coming from Costa Rica, Canada, Mexico, Dubai, Finland, France and Germany. And our oldest runner competing is 75-years-old and the youngest is 17-years-old.

Do you anticipate any new course records this year?

It would be fantastic if a new course record is established in my first year. Any runner, by training smart, staying focused and under the right weather conditions has a chance to break records whether that is course recorded or a personal record (PR). Steve Benson set the course record for the men in 1981 at 2:14:09. The women’s record is 2:39:15 set by Nancy Mieszczak in 1983.

What is your background as a race director and also as a runner?

I have always been passionate about running and use running both as a form of physical exercise, relaxation and mental training. The first marathon I ever ran was the 2003 Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon and from there I just caught “marathon fever”. Since then I have successfully completed 52 marathons, three 50k (31 miles) and numerous smaller races. My best PR is 3:32:30. I have run marathons all around the United States and next year I plan to do an international marathon.

I joined the Badgerland Striders in 2003. I managed the Badgerland Striders Marathon Build Up run program for five years. I received a lifetime membership award in 2010.

And now I can add race director for the 2013 Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon to that club resume.

Even though I have never been a race director before I believe that my running experience and passion, my positive mental attitude, my entrepreneurial experience of owning my own business for 22 years and my dedication to the Striders purpose as a club are the attributes the executive board saw in me when they considered me as a possible candidate for this position.

I am truly honored to be entrusted with this position and to be surrounded by great people with a single purpose of sharing their passion for running with others.

Thanks for chatting with us Dr. Mueller!

If you’re interested in spectating this year’s Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, you can find a complete spectator’s guide on the race website.

Best of luck to all of you running this weekend’s race – we’ll meet you at the finish line!

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!