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 It: 2016 Lucky Leprechaun 7k

In MKE, we celebrate St. Patty’s Day all through the weekend. And one event you won’t want to miss is the Lucky Leprechaun 7k!

Below, Joe Trinosky, Marketing Manager with Vision Event Management, tells us all about this year’s race and why it will be the biggest and best yet!

For race specifics, visit our Featured Races page.

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Can you tell us a bit about Lucky Leprechaun and what makes it unique?
The Lucky Leprechaun 7K is a fun 4.3-mile jaunt through Tosa, beginning and finishing in Hart Park. We have the best post-race party in town at Leff’s Lucky Town, which will feature nationally touring DJ Sinclair along with a live band, games, 2 free green beers from Miller Lite, plenty of food options and more fun than you can shake your green beads at!

Is there anything new or different happening at this year’s race?
We have really upped the party in 2016 for the Lucky Leprechaun 7K! There are many additions coming this year to ensure everyone has a fantastic time, which include perks from mini-boxes of Lucky Charms at the finish line to celebratory green beer from sponsor Miller Lite. We are also upping the party by including nationally touring DJ Sinclair and will have some of the best party games for everyone to enjoy. But seasoned veterans needn’t worry – the longstanding favorite aspects, such as our 10:00am start time, will remain in 2016.

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What is the course like and do you have any tips for runners hoping for a fast time?
The 7K (4.3 Miles) course will start and finish near Leff’s Lucky Town and will incorporate Hart Park and the village of Tosa. One water station will be located approximately halfway through the course as well as the start/finish line. Mile markers and clocks will be displayed at each mile. Those that are hoping for a fast time should pace themselves off of Zippy, our speedy mascot who will be leading the pack and hoping to keep everyone away from his pot o’ gold!

What are the award divisions?
Award divisions in 2016 will consist of top three men, top three women, and there will also be a prize for the first 10 people to beat Zippy, our running leprechaun. Runners #7, #77, and #777 will also be awarded prizes for being one of the “Lucky #7” finishers!

What do participants get with their race registration?
This year’s Lucky Leprechaun 7K is blowing it out for everyone that registers! Everyone will receive a commemorative T-shirt and for this year’s race, we pumped up the party by bringing DJ Sinclair to the start/finish line. As everyone crosses the finish line, they will be greeted with gold coins, Lucky Charms and green beer from Miller Lite. There will also be coffee and hot cocoa from Valentine Coffee. Marcus Theaters will have popcorn available to the first 500 people who visit their booth. Plentiful food options will be available as well as live music, theme dancers and music from a bagpiper. It’s going to be a festival that just happens to include a race for everyone to enjoy first!

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What are some of the pre- and post-race happenings?
This year, we really amped up the pre- and post- race events! Before the race all participants are going to be able to warm up to the beats of nationally touring DJ Sinclair, who has been rocking the US from coast to coast for years. We will also have the traditional bagpiper on hand to keep us in the Irish spirit.

At the post-race celebration, we have upped the party and there will be everyone’s favorite party games and both DJ Sinclair and Tallymoore on-hand keeping everyone entertained while they enjoy two complementary adult beverages from sponsor Miller Lite. For those that don’t wish to partake in adult beverages, drink tickets can also be used to redeem coffee and hot cocoa from Valentine Coffee. When the post-race munchies hit, Leff’s Lucky Town will be preparing a special selection of food. There will also be food available from two food trucks, Gouda Girls and Burgermeister.

Everyone is encouraged to keep the party going at Leff’s and enjoy the first weekend of college men’s b-ball tourney games!

Are volunteers needed? If so, how can people get involved?
Amazingly enough, we have already maxed out our volunteer spots for the 2016 Lucky Leprechaun 7K! With the help of the MACC Fund, all volunteer help was secured very early. We would like to take this time to say ‘Thank You’ to all of our volunteers in advance!

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Joe!

Today’s your lucky day! Vision Event Management has generously provided two race entries for a giveaway! To enter to win one of the race entries, tell us in the comments section:

Do you have a lucky item or ritual? If so, what is it and what’s the significance?

Best of luck to all who enter – We’ll announce the winners on Feb. 23! In the meantime, if you’d like to register for the race, use the code RUNMKE1 to save $5!

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Race It: The Traveling Beer Garden 5k Race Series

Dust off your racing flats, MKE! The brand-new Traveling Beer Garden 5k Race Series is coming to town this summer. The series is held entirely in Milwaukee County Parks, with each race finishing at the Parks Traveling Beer Garden.

TBG 5k race logo

According to the race website, this is Wisconsin’s only traveling beer garden 5k run series. All runners will receive a chip time, custom Beer Garden 5K shirt and a free pint full of Sprecher beer or Sprecher root beer.

Sound good to you? Here are the dates and places you’ll want to get on your calendar:

Thursday, May 19 – Whitnall Park
Thursday, June 16 – Froemming Park
Thursday, July 7 – Grant Park
Thursday, August 4 – Greenfield Park
Wednesday, September 14 – Whitnall Park

We recommend registering for these races ASAP. Now through four weeks prior to the event, running the entire series costs just $120. Registration for individual races will open Feb. 4 and the races will cost $30 each until four weeks prior to the event. If you opt out of receiving one of the custom shirts, you’ll save $5 on individual races or $15 on the series.

To learn more about this exciting new race series, or to register, visit silvercirclesportsevents.com/beer-garden-5k.

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: GrindFest 2015: Grind Over Matter

Ever wonder what happens when some of the fastest men and women in the area get together? We’ll tell you what – GrindFest – an opportunity for the fastest of the fast in the MKE area to duke it out and see who can last the longest in a progression run at the Pettit National Ice Center indoor track.

When: Sunday, Dec. 27; Women’s race starts at 7:30pm. Men will start around 7:45pm.

Who: Everyone is welcome! Ladies will start around 6:30 pace and grind down from there. Men will start around 6:10 pace.

Registration: $10, onsite starting an hour before the race

Below, Grind Master Thomas Breitbach explains how it works and shares a few favorites for this year’s race!

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How did GrindFest get its start and how many years have local runners been grinding it out at the Pettit?
GrindFest started in 2013, so this is the third annual ‘Fest. The event is the brainchild of Terry Witkowski (Kettle Moraine HS alum and an All-American at UW-Stevens Point), and has continued to grow from his original vision. We’ve added team scoring competitions, a prediction contest, and even more prizes to make this THE most exciting indoor progression run held between Christmas and New Year’s in the Milwaukee area!

Can you explain how the event works? Participants start running … and then what?
Basically it’s a progression run where the pace drops by 2 seconds per lap (about 8 sec/mile) every 3 laps. Participants keep running until they can’t keep up with the pack and the pace. After you’re done, you can pull off the track and watch the rest of the race unfold. Once it’s down to two athletes left, it’s a 3-lap race to the finish!

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What are the rules participants need to follow?
Other than having to stay running with the pack (you’re allowed to drop behind a little bit once or twice, as long as you reconnect pretty quickly afterwards), it’s fairly simple. If the leaders of the lap are more than 2 seconds faster or slower for the assigned pace, they will be warned. After 3 warnings, you’re out. That’s never happened yet, as it seems like people get into the rhythm pretty well as things get rolling. We also have a one-time, one-lap bathroom break allowance, though only one person has successfully pulled it off.

From what we can tell, there were some seriously fast guys in the mix last year. Who are the past winners? What final pace/how many laps did the winners run?
Our first GrindFest Champ was John Dewitt, a UW-Oshkosh All-American and local math teacher who is an Olympic Trials qualifier in the marathon (2:17:38 at Chicago in 2014). Last year, John finished second in an epic duel with Joe Stilin, a 2008 Milwaukee King HS grad who is a sub-4:00 miler and current professional runner in North Carolina. In the first two races, we’ve usually seen the champion determined after about 10-11 miles of running (about 38 laps), finishing up with a last mile around 4:45.

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Has anything crazy or unexpected happened in any of the previous years? Major upsets, etc?
Probably the most legendary GrindFest story comes from 2013. John Simons, an Arrowhead HS alum and also a sub-4:00 miler, pulled off the track for a “1-lap pit stop” and rejoined the leaders running right around 5:00 mile pace to finish in the top 5 of the inaugural GrindFest. I think we can all relate to that feeling, and John did it in pretty impressive fashion!

We’ve heard there will be a ladies division this year – can you tell us a bit about it? How will it differ from the men’s event?
The women will run 9 laps of the track on their own, starting just over 6:30 pace, and then progress down every 3 laps, until the men jump in at ~6:10 pace for their start.

Who’s already in for this year’s event? Any favorites in the mix?
With Joe Stilin unable to return to defend his crown, I think John Dewitt is a strong favorite at this point, though I know some other local studs are primed to push for an upset. Andy Ashenden was a surprise 3rd place finisher last year; Spencer Agnew is a Marquette grad with some pretty serious finishing wheels. My personal dark horse pick is Kyle Fraser, a former Badger cross country athlete and winner of this year’s Lakefront Marathon. That dude was born to grind.

On the women’s side, last year’s groundbreaking first female participant (and self-proclaimed Ruth Badur Ginsburg of GrindFest) Molly Woodford should be one of the top contenders. In addition, 2013 Wisconsin state cross country champion Elizabeth Flatley will no doubt be ready to grind. We’re hoping to land a few other high-profile athletes to the women’s field, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a few of our ladies out grind some of the men in the race!

Are spectators welcome?
Absolutely! The spectators are such a big part of what makes this race truly an event. In addition to the thrill of the race, we’ve got a prediction contest, spectator spirit awards and even the coveted “Mom of the Year” prize. If you like running and runners, this is one of the most fun nights of the year!

Any other comments?
Feel free to check out our website at thegrindfest.com and contact us if you’ve got any questions. Looking forward to seeing a bunch of great folks at the race!

Thanks for chatting with us, Thomas!

Who’s running this year’s GrindFest? We’ll see you on the 27th!

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.

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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!

Race It: Drumstick Dash 5k

Thanksgiving is all about tradition and for many MKE runners this includes participating in a local turkey trot.

Drumstick Dash is one of the most popular turkey trots in the Milwaukee area and is a fun event for the entire family. Below, Joe Trinosky, Marketing Manager with Vision Event Management, tells us more about this year’s race.

For race specifics, visit our Featured Races page.

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This is Drumstick Dash’s fourth year in MKE – can you talk a bit about what makes this race a Thanksgiving favorite?
That is a great question and there are a few reasons why the Drumstick Dash is a Thanksgiving favorite: First off, it is a great way for people to give back to their community and help those in need. Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin is the benefiting partner for the Drumstick Dash, and to date, we’ve raised more than 100,000 meals for those less fortunate in Eastern Wisconsin. Having an event that gives back at a time when we sit down to give thanks really resonates with our participants. Secondly, it is a fun way for families to get out and burn some calories together before a meal. Many participants dress in Thanksgiving-themed costumes, adding to the level of fun for everyone. Lastly, the Drumstick Dash is at Miller Park, home of the Brewers, and people love the atmosphere that a professional sporting venue provides.

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Is there anything new or different at this year’s race?
Last year was such a success at Miller Park so we are keeping with a majority of the same aspects. We do have Fox6 and FM102.1 joining us this year, which is new and exciting, and we are very happy to have them onboard.

How can participants best enjoy the fun race atmosphere?
A great way to join in the fun atmosphere is to register a team and have everyone come dressed in a Thanksgiving theme. Every year there are groups of people who make the event enjoyable for everyone by the festive spirit they instill. From turkeys to cornucopias, you see a little bit of everything at the Drumstick Dash. We encourage everyone to come out and embrace the spirit of the Drumstick Dash, which is “Move Your Feet so Others Can Eat!”

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What should participants expect at this year’s event?
This year’s event will offer people who donate cash or food items to win a turkey or pie from Sendik’s food market. Also, the top five finishers who are able to beat Dash, our sprinting turkey in the race, will receive gift certificates to Performance Running Outfitters. Packet pick up and the race are at Miller Park, which provides excitement in the location alone! Parking for packet pickup and race day will be free. All questions regarding the race map and parking are answered in the FAQ section on our website.

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What are the award divisions?
We will be awarding the top 3 male and top 3 female runners. We will also have the following divisions at this year’s Drumstick Dash:

Runners – There will be pace signs for the running division including 6min & Under, 6-7min, 7-8min, 8-9min, 9-10min, 10-11min, 11-12min, 12-13min, 13-14min, 14 & Over minutes/mile
Runners w/strollers
Walkers
Walkers w/strollers

Can you tell us a bit about the Outta Town Dash Around option? How can people sign up for this option?
The Outta Town Dash Around is a great way for those who are traveling for Thanksgiving, or who have moved away but love to be involved in their hometown tradition. For our Outta Town Dash Around, people need to register by November 15 and they will receive a Drumstick Dash long-sleeve T-shirt to wear wherever they are on Thanksgiving morning. Participants in the Outta Town Dash Around are encouraged to share their photos on our social media channels and use the hashtags #OuttaTownDashAround and #DrumstickDashMKE. To sign up, select the Outta Town Dash Around during registration.

Can you tell us a bit about the raffle and how runners/walkers can earn raffle tickets? What are the raffle prizes?
There will be turkeys and pies raffled off for people who provide donations. For those who donate with their registration, we will raffle off 45 pies to people who donate between $25-49 and 15 turkeys for people who donate $50 or more. There will also be raffles held the day of the event, with one raffle ticket awarded for every food item or $1 donation. Once participants cross the finish line, they can go by the Clock Tower entrance to see if they are a winner.

For family and friends of runners – are volunteers needed at the event? If so, what are volunteers needed for and how can people sign up?
Yes! We need 100+ volunteers to make this a successful event! Volunteer positions begin at 7:00am and are finished by 10:00am, and include Packet Pick-Up, Finish Line, Course and the Water Station. To sign up for a specific shift or to learn more, contact Pahoua Xiong at (414) 831-6326 or pxiong@feedingamericawi.org.

Any other comments?
We look forward to everyone coming out for this Thanksgiving tradition and giving back on this day when many of us sit down to give thanks. Be sure to “Move Your Feet so Others Can Eat!”

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

Website: http://www.visioneventmanagement.com/pages/drumstick-dash.php
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrumstickDash/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DashMilwaukee

Who wants to win a race entry?
Vision Event Management 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 are you most thankful for this year?

Best of luck to all who enter. We’ll announce the winner on Friday, November 6.

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Race It: The Winter Run Series

It’s tough to get motivated to keep your fitness up during the winter months! But signing up for a winter running series can help you stay fit and who knows, you may even set a new PR along the way!

Craig Braun, race director of the popular Winter Run Series, tells us about this year’s races and why all runners should consider signing up!

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Can you tell us a bit about the Winter Run Series? How many years has the series been run in the MKE area and what makes it so unique?
This series marks our 11th year in business and the 8th year of a “series”. The series has grown from four races to six since its birth. There’s a lot that makes the Winter Run Series stand out in the area. I think one of those reasons is the charities we work with. Racers Against Childhood Cancer and the Milwaukee Rescue Mission will benefit from this year’s series. I love the idea of helping local families and local charities. We also hand out A LOT of hardware throughout the series by medaling down to 10th place in each age group. Paying close attention to the small details and making sure each athlete is taken care of no matter their experience level. There’s no other joy like witnessing someone finish their first 5k or 10k!

What are the six races in this year’s series? Are there any specifics or course tips for the races that participants should know? What do participants get with each race entry?

Oct. 18: The Pumpkin Run in Oconomowoc
Nov. 22: The Elf Run in Brookfield
Dec. 31: Run Into the New Year in Franklin
Jan. 24: The BIG Chill in Hartford
Feb. 14: The Cupid Shuffle in Waukesha
March 20: Luck of the Irish in Hartland

The things I always emphasize are course conditions and weather. We are a winter running series and it does get cold out there. When you dress properly and wear proper shoes, winter running is really one of the best types of running. Not much can compare. We had 7,000 runners race with us last year – we can’t all be crazy, right?

We hand out A LOT of gear to each athlete. The usual stuff like shirts, beer, food and cookies. We have finisher’s medals for the Run Into the New Year. Champagne, roses and more at various events. Check out www.racelighthouse.com/winter-run-series to see all the race goodies!

How do you select the locations and courses for the races in the series?
There are a few key factors that come into play when we scope out potential venues:

Parking – can people get in and out easily without disrupting the event?
Size – Can it fit 1,200 + people inside to stay warm?
Roads – Hills and sharp turns are tough as it is. Through some snow or ice on it and it’s nearly impossible!
Scenery – It’s tough when you’re planning for winter. Trees are dead, nothing is green, no water to run next to. It’s tough, but we manage.

Is there anything new or different at this year’s Winter Run Series?
Lighthouse Cash! We’re focusing on getting those who race with us in the stores of the sponsors who support our events. Supporting local business is HUGE to us, and Lighthouse Cash is a great way for us to emphasize that with our athletes. You can earn Lighthouse Cash by placing in your age group and in return, use that cash at our sponsors’ retail stores to help save the budget!
We also have a new venue this year in Hartford that will be exciting. We’ve added in another “Be Easy 5k” for the mid-pack runners. Luck of the Irish will have some Irish Dancers at the finish, RINY has a finisher medal. We changed and rebranded the entire series. Now that I type these things out – there is A LOT that’s new for this year!

What’s the incentive for people to sign up for more than one race in the series?
Simplicity. Signup once and you’re done. It saves you some cash in the long run plus you get rewarded with a free commemorative 1/4 zip top at the first race. The family atmosphere of the series is one of the main things that bring people back to take on the Winter Challenge. Friends are made here, and I love that about this series. The first race is always a huge winter running family reunion kind of deal.

What types of overall/age group awards are offered at each race? For the series?
Top 3 male and female are rewarded with custom stained and carved wood plaques. They are really nice! Age groupers get custom placed medals with the series logo on them. These are nice as well. We try to go all in on the awards because it means so much to the athletes.

Points are collected throughout the entire duration of the series. If you do well enough to place in the top 3 overall for your age group you’re rewarded with a “Series Award” at our Winter Run wrap up party. These can be blankets, hats, jacket, hoodies – we change it up from year to year.

Are there any favorites yet for winning for the overall series titles this year?
I can’t say there are any favorites as of now! Josh Pinter swept the series last year but we do have some fast guys out here who run with us. There’s always a good run for the top 3 overall in male and female. It’s fun to watch the series points and keep tab on who’s hammering and going for the next spot in their age group or even for the overall.

Any other comments?
If you haven’t tried out the Winter Run I’d love to invite you to give it a shot. You can register for each race individually and test the waters or jump right in and take on the Winter Challenge. Right now we have 1,000 runners signed up for the Pumpkin Run and are pushing 800 to take on the challenge. We have fast runners, midpack runners and walkers. All are welcome to join!

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Thanks for chatting with us, Craig! To learn more about the Winter Run Series, connect here:

Website: http://www.racelighthouse.com/winter-run-series/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lighthousewi
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Racelighthouse
Instagram: https://instagram.com/racelighthouse/

TGIF! Where and what is everyone running this weekend?

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!

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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!