Join in the Fun at Milwaukee Running Day!

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

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

What: Milwaukee Running Day

When: Thursday, June 2 @6:30pm

Where: Veteran’s Park

What is Milwaukee Running Day?

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

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

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

Why should MKE runners join the event?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walkers, strollers, pets are all welcome!

Who are the event sponsors?

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

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Chris!

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

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

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Let’s Get to Know … Sofie Schunk!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Sofie!

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

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

How Do You Celebrate A Great Race?

The inaugural Milwaukee Running Festival weekend is finally here! We know a lot of work has gone into making this race fantastic. Chris Ponteri and crew have been hard at work to make this a great event for runners. And we know MKE runners have been hard at work training for race day!

What it comes down to is … we predict a lot of fast times and PRs at every distance 😉

So we’re curious – how will you celebrate a negative split, strong finish, new PR or podium finish?

 

Best of luck to everyone this weekend!

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Charting the Race Course

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marathon course, as of today

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

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

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

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

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

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Check It Out: Hitting Your Stride

Hey MKE! Who’s getting excited for the inaugural Milwaukee Running Festival? We’re finding it hard to believe it’s only a little more than two weeks away. But in our minds that means the party at the finish line is that much closer 😉

Anyhow, today, we want to share an upcoming event that will benefit anyone participating in the upcoming Milwaukee Running Festival – or really just anyone that runs or is into fitness!

Hitting Your Stride is a collaboration between the Milwaukee Running Festival and the Downtown YMCA and will include a 1-mile time trial and circuit workout lead by the YMCA’s fantastic group exercise instructors.

Date: Saturday, Oct. 17; 12-1:30pm

Location: Downtown YMCA (inside Grand Avenue Mall)

Cost: Free for all participants; donations to the Y will be accepted

You can use your time trial results to hone in on a realistic race-day goal pace. During the circuit workout, you’ll move through conditioning and stretching exercises to help you get to the start – and finish – line strong and healthy.

ScreenHunter_69 Oct. 14 08.36The Y’s 3-lane track is six laps to a mile

All ability levels are encouraged to attend and there will be several time-trial heats to ensure participants run with others at a similar pace. There’s no need to pre-register for this event and you do not need to be a YMCA member or signed up for the Milwaukee Running Festival to participate.

As an added bonus, all event participants can enter a raffle to win either a Milwaukee Running Festival race entry or a Milwaukee Running Festival VIP package.

To learn more about the event, visit the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1641839099417064/

See you on Saturday!

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Sunday’s Packers/Bears Matchup: Why It Matters to Runners

If you haven’t signed up for the Milwaukee Running Festival yet, here’s your chance to save on registration. To celebrate the start of the NFL season and the legendary rivalry between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, the race is offering a unique promotion where every score counts!

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For every score during this Sunday’s game (touchdown or field goal) MRF will offer $1 off registration to any of its race distances (marathon, half marathon, 5k and 1-mile). For example, if each team scores three touchdowns and two field goals – for a total of 10 scores – MRF will offer a $10 coupon off registration.

We’ll provide an update with the to-be-determined coupon that will be good throughout the following week: Monday, September 14 through Sunday, September 20. You can watch Sunday’s game live on Fox at 12pm.

That’s it for today! Enjoy your weekend miles and we’ll catch up with you on Monday!

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!