Race It: Badgerland Striders Track Meet

These days, you can run a local road race pretty much every weekend. But the opportunities to race on a track are few and far between. Luckily for MKE runners, the Badgerland Striders host several track meets throughout the spring and summer making it easy to test your speed on the oval.

Joining us today are event directors Alice and Ron Winkler. They’ve run the Strider track meets for 25 years and have all the info you need to jump in the upcoming meet.

To get started, let’s talk specifics: When is the May track meet and where will it be held?

The May Track meet is on Tuesday, May 30 at 6:30pm. It will be held at the St. Francis High School Track located at 4225 S. Lake Drive, across the street from the bike trail and Lake Michigan. It is on the boundary between St. Francis and Cudahy.

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

People of all ages and abilities are welcome to participate. This is a developmental meet. There is no registration and there is no entry fee. Consequently, there are no awards. Participants can just show up prior to the 6:30pm start and run in as many events as they want.

Which distances will be run at the meet?

There are no hurdles or field events. The events are: 100 meters, 200 meters. 400 meters, 800 meters, 1600 meters, and 3200 meters. The following relays will also be included: 4 x 100 and 4 x 400. Participants are welcome to compete in as many races as they like.

Will people run against others of similar gender, age, ability, etc?

Yes

A lot of newbie or slower runners may be hesitant to participate – are they still welcome to run? Are there any time requirements to participate?

This is a developmental track meet so there are no entry standards; all ages and abilities are welcome. The object is to have fun. We cheer each other on.

Let’s talk history: How long have these track meets been held and how did they get started? 

The track meets date from 1959 when the old Milwaukee Track Club (MTC) was founded by Jim Hanley and Brian Murphy. The MTC sponsored track meets and road runs. One of those road runs was a 10-mile race held for the first time in 1961. Today, under the auspices of the Badgerland Striders, it is Wisconsin’s oldest distance race, known as the Cudahy Classic; this year will be its 57th running.

Fast forward to 1973 when the well-organized MTC, with a large membership, lacked a base of operations. Conversely, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Track Club (UWM-Track Club), founded in 1972 with the intention of retaining post-college athletes, had few members. The two organizations merged to provide a home for the MTC and the opportunity to boost its image, while the UWM-Track Club gained the expertise and membership of the MTC.

By 1977, the UWM-Track Club, now separate from UWM and with members from all over Wisconsin, felt that the name limited the club geographically. In addition, the words “Track Club” bothered some people because the club was active in not only track and field, but also road running and cross country.

We (Alice and Ron Winkler) have been in charge of these track meets for about 25 years.

Has anything crazy or unexpected happened at any of the track meets in previous years?

We are literally next to the lake, so the track can be much cooler than the rest of the Milwaukee metropolitan area. Many times people arrive at the track unprepared for the cooler weather. In addition, the weather at the track can change unexpectedly when the wind shifts to the east. The wind coming off the lake can cause sunny and warm to become cloudy and even foggy with an accompanying temperature drop of twenty degrees or more.

Will additional BLS track meets be held this summer?

The other track meets will also be held at St. Francis High School Track at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, June 20 and Tuesday, July 11.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Alice and Ron!

Who will we see at the upcoming BLS track meet? Which event(s) will you run?

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Race It: Run4Food 5k

The most delicious race finish? A finish that ends steps away from a Bloody Mary bar and tasty eats!

One of Milwaukee’s newest races, Run4Food 5k, will offer just that on Sunday, March 12 @9am. And in case you’re thinking about skipping out because of potentially nasty March weather, the race will be held indoors at the Wisconsin Center.

Below, race director, Chris Ponteri, tells us more about the event.

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This is the inaugural Run4Food 5k – can you tell us why the race was created and give us a general overview of the event?

The race is being putting on by the Wisconsin Restaurant Association as part of its annual Midwest Foodservice Show at the Wisconsin Center. They want to have a 5k race to give attendees something fun and healthy to do while they are in Milwaukee.

What makes this race unique?

Two things: 1) It’s indoors, and 2) The food theme. There will be “tasting stations” with food from several of the show vendors, including a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar after the race.

What was behind the decision to run the race indoors?

When I heard the Midwest Foodservice Show is in March, I suggested doing it indoors since they have a nice space for it and who knows what kind of weather we will have that time of the year. As far as I know, this will be the first race of its kind in Milwaukee. We have the Icebreaker, which is held at the Pettit Center, but that is on an existing running track. For this one, we will be creating our own course.

Running an indoor course is something most runners have never done – can you tell us about what the course is like?

The corridors at the Wisconsin Center are wide and in a U-shape, and we are going to connect by going through the kitchen area. The course will be a square shape and will be about a quarter mile long so participants will have to do around 12 laps.

Are there any other awards offered?

There will be prizes for the top three overall male and female finishers and age group awards in yet-to-be-determined categories.

What do participants get with their race registration?

Participants will get a shirt, a goody bag and free food and drinks after the race.

Tell us about the post-race party – it sounds like there will be a lot of great eats and drinks on hand for runners to sample!

In additional to the Bloody Mary bar with Tito’s Vodka and Jimmy Luv’s flavors, MillerCoors will be serving Leinenkugels, Blue Moon, Redd’s and Henry’s Hard Soda. There will also be food and/or drinks from Harvest Hill, Alpha Baking Co., Klondike Cheese, WhiteWave Foodservice, Campbell’s Soups, Kent Precision Foods, Outback Steakhouse and CiderBoys, with more to come.

Thanks for chatting with us, Chris, and for giving us the scoop on this new MKE race!

To learn more about the upcoming Run4Food 5k, or to sign up, visit https://raceroster.com/events/2017/11049/run4food

Enjoy what should be a gorgeous weekend for running – can you believe temps in the 50s are in the forecast? We’re getting spoiled this February!

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Race It: Bloop

Here’s an exciting announcement to start the weekend: Milwaukee has a new race this spring – Bloop!

We bet you’re asking, “What’s a Bloop??” Chris Ponteri, Bloop’s Race Director, explains it’s short for “Bay View Loop” and can be used as a verb or a noun.

Verb: To complete a half marathon, marathon or ultra-marathon by running 1-mile loops around Humboldt Park in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood on Saturday, April 29.

Noun: A lap around Humboldt Park.

So let us introduce Bloop – Milwaukee’s newest race! Here are the details:

What: Bloop

When: Saturday, April 29 @8am

Where: Humboldt Park Pavilion, 3000 S. Howell Avenue, Milwaukee

Bloop offers both the marathon and half marathon distances as well as a 6-hour timed Bloop. All three courses officially close at 2 p.m.

What really makes this race unique is that the course is a 1-mile Bloop. So marathoners will do 26.2 Bloops, half marathoners will do 13.1 Bloops and those who opt to do the 6-hour timed Bloop will do as many Bloops as they can within the allotted time.

There will be one aid station near the start/finish, and all participants are responsible for providing their own drinks. A table will be set up to store bottles during the race, and volunteers will hand them to you and retrieve them when you are done. Bathrooms will be available near the start/finish as well.

All Bloopers will receive a stylish hoodie and unique finisher’s medal. The top three Bloopers in each race will also receive an award.

Registration is currently set at:

  • Marathon: $60
  • Half Marathon: $50
  • 6-Hour UltraBloop: $70

Prices will increase on April 1.

To learn more, or to register for the race, visit runbloop.com.

Tell Us: Are you in for the inaugural Bloop?

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Race It: 2017 Polar Bear Dash 5k

January 1 marks the start of a new year. So why not make a splash?

The Polar Bear Dash provides a fun 5k course for runners to test their speed and then an optional dip in Lake Michigan after the finish line to test their courage. Make no mistake – it will be cold no matter what the temperature is on race day but we know a lot of you pride yourselves on being able to take whatever Mother Nature throws your way!

Below, Race Director Bill Schneider tells us more about this year’s race, including a new contest that just might get you to take the plunge.

Get race specifics on our Featured Races page .

What makes the Polar Bear Dash different from other 5k races in the area?

The Polar Bear Dash is the first race of the New Year. Why not start the year off on the right foot…then the left? It is a winter race taking place on New Year’s Day morning with an indoor heated packet pickup and post-race gathering area. The unique part of the race is an optional dip into Lake Michigan right after the finish line, which is located on the Grant Park beach. Runners who take a full dip in the lake are eligible for prizes. The race is run entirely in Grant Park in South Milwaukee on a completely closed-to-traffic route. There is no better way for runners to start the year off. Our charity partners are the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. We also have hot chocolate at the finish line!

Is there anything new or different happening at this year’s race?

New this year will be a contest to see who enters the water in the best and most creative way. Every year we take video of runners jumping into the water; this year we will choose 5 or so of the most creative ways people get into the water and post the video on our Facebook page. Our Facebook friends will then vote to determine which one they like the best and that person will receive a free entry into the next Polar Bear Dash.

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We are also looking into having a bonfire on the beach to help warm up those runners who do decide to brave the water as well as for the friends and family that come to watch the excitement on the beach.

What are the course uphills, downhills, turns, etc. that runners should know about?

The course begins at the Grant Park Clubhouse and finishes down at the beach. There is a small uphill at the beginning and then a beautiful run through the park. The race finishes with long downhill to the beach. If the roads are clear of ice, this can be a very fast course. If there is snow, runners need to be more cautious.

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Who were last year’s winners? Are any of them back to contend for the win again this year?

Last year’s overall winner was Mike Treder with a time of 17:57. The female champion was Kelly Ryan with a time of 20:00. At this time we do not know if they will be defending their titles but we sure hope they come back.

Is there anything participants should know about water stations, etc.?

This race is only a 5K so unless the weather is unusually warm, there is not a water station along the course. We do not want to cause a slipping danger by having water spill onto the road. If the weather is warm, we will have an aid station along the course. Of course, there is plenty of water at the finish line in Lake Michigan. We do not suggest drinking that water, however. There will be hot chocolate at the finish line for all participants and snacks in the clubhouse after the race.

Can you talk us through the dip into Lake Michigan – how does it work? How many participants have taken the plunge in previous years? Do participants have to take a dip to qualify for awards?

The finish line of the Polar Bear Dash is on the beach in Grant Park about 10 to 20 meters from the waterline. We encourage runners who are 18 and older to take a dip into Lake Michigan after the race to celebrate the New Year. However, this is completely optional. Awards for times in the 5K are separate from awards for the brave souls who jump in the water.  We do have a drawing for prizes for those who decide to take a FULL DIP into the water. And by Full Dip, we mean entire body, head to toe.

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The South Milwaukee Water Rescue Squad has helped us every year with keeping the runners safe as they jump in the water. They will have two members in the water assisting anyone who needs help. We have up to about 40% of the runners jump into the water depending on the weather that day. Last year we had great weather for a dip with temps in the 20s and low winds. In other years, the winds were higher with temps in the single digits. We have less that go in on those days. It is a great site to see everyone going in the water.

How do most people do their dip into the lake? What are some of the funniest/most memorable dips into the lake that you’ve seen over the years?

I love watching the runners jump into the lake. There are many different ways people go in. Some just casually wade in and that is as far as they go. Some run in as fast as they can and after a few steps in, dive into the water.  There is a lot of screaming that happens when the water hits their bodies. Some of my favorite ones in the past were couples running in together holding hands or the guy who did a cannonball last year. Costumes are always fun to see as well. In my opinion, the ones who run into the water are the best.

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Do you have any tips for runners planning to take the plunge?

I think the best advice I could give is once you commit, do it quickly. Run in as fast as you can. The slower you go, the worse it is. Also, wear shoes into the water. It can be quite painful walking over the stones and ice with bare feet. Have dry clothes to change into right away once you are out of the water. Most importantly, have fun and make a great memory.

Any other comments?

We look forward to starting the New Year off on the right foot again this year and invite everyone to make their way to Grant Park on New Year’s Day to participate or spectate. Everyone who participates is helping not only themselves, but also the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. We hope to see you out there.

Thanks for chatting with us, Bill! To learn more, or to sign up for the race, visit http://www.polarbeardash.com/.

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Spartan Race Now Offers Season Passes + A Race Entry Giveaway!

The holiday season is in full swing, which means it’s time to start thinking about what to gift your favorite runner.

One gift idea we love is a race entry – or a gift card to cover a race entry if you don’t know your recipient’s upcoming race schedule. Wrap it up and use a new pair of running shoelaces as the bow (or one of these cute Momentum Jewelry Motivate Wraps!) and you’re ready to start gifting!

Of course, you could go all out and gift not just one race but a series of races. Just in time for the holiday season, Spartan Race is offering 2017 season passes. We think any one of the three pass options would make a fine gift!

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The options include:

Trifecta Pass

  • 3 race codes, valid for the 2017 calendar year
  • Free Spectator Pass
  • Free Bag Check
  • Valid for all heats (including Elite & Comp.)
  • Valid for Continental US & Hawaii Events

Open Season Pass

  • Unlimited racing during the 2017 calendar year
  • Free Spectator Pass
  • Free Bag Check
  • Guaranteed entry to all events (not guaranteed heat)
  • Multi-Lap Discount
  • Valid on all Continental US & Hawaii Events
  • Valid for Open Heats ONLY
  • Upcharge for Elite (+$30) and Competitive (+$15)

Elite Season Pass

  • Unlimited racing during the 2017 calendar year
  • Free Spectator Pass
  • Free Bag Check
  • Guaranteed entry to all events (not guaranteed heat)
  • Multi-Lap Discount
  • Valid on all Continental US & Hawaii Events
  • Valid for ALL heats (Elite, Comp. & Open)

To learn more about the Spartan Race season passes or to purchase one, visit the race website.

Spartan Race would like to gift a Keep Running MKE reader with a free U.S. Spartan Race. In 2017, the race series includes a Stadium Race at Wisconsin’s own Lambeau Field. To add to the excitement, there will also be new finisher’s medals and plenty of new and challenging obstacles.

To enter to win the race entry, answer in the comments section:

How are you staying fit through the holiday season?

We’ll announce the winner on Wednesday, December 7.

Best of luck to all who enter the giveaway and, as always,

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

 

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

Race It: 2016 Turkey Trot Round Up

For many runners, racing a local turkey trot is as much a Thanksgiving tradition as eating pumpkin pie. In fact, according to Running USA, it’s the most popular holiday to run a race.

So before you start chowing down on turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and, of course, pumpkin pie, lace up your running shoes and gobble up a few miles at one of these local turkey trots!

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Drumstick Dash

When: Thursday, Nov. 24, 8:30 a.m.

Where: Miller Park, Milwaukee

Cost: $35 for adults; $20 for kids ages 5-12

Details: This 5k race is both runner and walker friendly, and participants can register as an individual or as part of a team. The event is chip timed and awards are given to the top three male and female overall winners. If you are unable to make the race but would still like to participate, there is an Outta Town Dash Around option. The event benefits Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin and a food drive will take place before the start of the race.

Website: https://raceroster.com/events/2016/8133/2016-drumstick-dash

Thrivent Turkey Trot

When: Thursday, Nov. 24, 8:30 a.m.

Where: Wehmhoff Jucker Park, Burlington

Cost: $30 for individuals

Details: Both runners and walkers are welcome at this 5k race, and participants can register as an individual or as part of a team. All participants will receive a t-shirt and goodie bag. Awards will be given to the top 3 overall male and female finishers as well as the top 3 finishers in each age group. The race benefits Love, Inc. and a food drive will be held before the race. Raffle tickets will be awarded for items donated with raffle prizes including turkeys.

Website: http://www.runthanksgiving.com

Milwaukee Turkey Trot

When: Thursday, Nov. 24, 9 a.m.

Where: Veteran’s Park, Milwaukee

Cost: $36.99 for the 5k; $39.99 for the 8k through Nov. 21; After Nov. 21, $50 for the 5k and $60 for the 8k

Details: Both 5k and 8k races are available at this event. All participants receive chip timing, a quarter zip fleece top and cinnamon rolls at the finish line. Awards will be given to the top three overall males and females as well as the top three males and females in each age group. The race benefits Hunger Task Force.

Website: http://www.milwaukeeturkeytrot.com/

Milwaukee’s Great Gobble Wobble

When: Thursday, Nov. 24, 9 a.m.

Where: Boerner Botanical Gardens, Hales Corners

Cost: $35 for individuals

Details: Both runners and walkers are welcome to participate in this 5k event that winds through Whitnall Park and Boerner Botanical Gardens. Participants can opt to run as an individual or as part of a team, or sign up for the virtual race option. All participants get a race shirt and finisher’s medal.

Website: http://www.silvercirclesportsevents.com/milwaukees-great-gobble-wobble-5k-run-walk

Mayor’s Turkey Day Run

When: Thursday, Nov. 24, 9 a.m.

Where: Kenosha Public Museum, Kenosha

Cost: $15 for adults; $10 for kids ages 14 and under

Details: Both 10k and 2-mile races are available at this event. The Mayor’s Cup Trophy will be awarded to the overall male and female winners in 10k race. Trophies will be given to overall male and female in 2-mile walk/run. Age group winners will receive a medal.

Website: http://www.kenosharunningclub.org/Turkey%20Day/turkey.html

5k Turkey Trot & Gobble Gallop

When: Thursday, Nov. 24, 9 a.m.

Where: Thiensville Village Park, Thiensville

Cost: $30 for individuals

Details: This year’s race benefits a variety of community events and projects, including Lasata’s Cycling Without Age, new playground equipment for the Thiensville Village Park, Portal, Inc., Interfaith Caregivers of Ozaukee County and COPE Services. In addition to the 5k run/walk, there will also be a 50-meter dash for kids ages 12 and under.

Website: http://www.juniorsmt.org/turkey-trot.html

St. Leonard’s Turkey Trot

When: Thursday, Nov. 24, 9 a.m.

Where: St. Leonard Parish, Muskego

Cost: $25; $65 per team

Details: All 5k participants receive a t-shirt and goodie bag. Awards will be given to the 1st through 3rd place overall winners as well as age group winners.

Website: http://stleonturkeytrot.weebly.com/

Tell us: Where are you racing on turkey day?

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!

Race It: Cystic Fibrosis Climb Milwaukee

Many runners incorporate stair climbing into their training at some point. Perhaps a few sprints up the Lake Park staircase or maybe the stairs from the Oak Leaf Trail to Prospect. But how about racing up 47 floors with 94 flights of steps? Our quads hurt just thinking about it!

You can try it out next week at the 27th annual CF Climb Milwaukee stair climb race. Below, event coordinator, Julie Nilson, and MKE stair climber, Josh Jackett, tell us about this year’s event and why local runners should consider racing it!

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Can you start by giving us an overview of the race?

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is proud to announce its 27th year of “going vertical” to defeat cystic fibrosis (CF). CF Climb Milwaukee will be held on Thursday, November 10 at the US Bank Building – the tallest building in Milwaukee! Once participants reach the top, they will have the opportunity to enjoy amazing panoramic views of downtown Milwaukee before heading down to our post-climb celebration, complete with food donated by Downtown Kitchen, drinks, entertainment and awards!

What makes this event unique?

We are the longest standing stair climb in the Milwaukee area – 2016 will mark our 27th annual! Stair climbs are unique, fun and provide a new opportunity to challenge yourself!

Who can participate in this race?

Anyone! Participants range from young to old, elite to getting-in-shape, police officers to firefighters (in full gear!). Relay teams are available for first timers who want to start slow.

Where is the race held? How does the event work? What are the different types of categories a racer can enter?

US Bank Building – Galleria Level

777 E Wisconsin Avenue

Milwaukee, WI 53202

The schedule of events for Thursday, November 10 is as follows:

5:30-6:15pm: Check In & Registration
6:20pm: Start for Fire/Police Individuals & Teams
6:30pm: Start for Corporate Teams
6:40pm: Start for Individuals
6:50pm: Start for Combined-Time Teams
7:00pm: Start for Relay Teams
6:45-9:00pm: Survivor Party!

The participant categories are as follows:

  • Individual (Racer or Walker) – Individual climbs 47 floors, timed
  • Fire/Police Individual – Individual climbs 47 floors wearing full gear*, timed
  • Relay Team – 3 individuals climb 1/3 of the way up tagging off in relay fashion, timed
  • Combined-Time Team – Unlimited number of individuals climb 47 floors each, timed. The top three times of each team are used to qualify for awards.
  • Fire/Police Team – Unlimited number of individuals climb 47 floors each wearing full gear*, timed. The top three times of each team are used to qualify for awards
  • Corporate Team – Up to 20 individuals climb 47 floors each, timed. The top three times of each team are used to qualify for awards.

Are there overall and/or age group prizes awarded?

Yes! Overall, age/ gender and team prizes are awarded.

What do participants get with their race entry?

A t-shirt, cinch bag and dinner/beverages during our post-climb reception – the survivor party!

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Tell us a bit about the nonprofit partner – how does the race benefit this organization?

The CF Foundation is the world’s leader in the search for a cure for cystic fibrosis, and nearly every CF-specific drug available today was made possible with our financial support. We are a donor-funded, 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is fully accredited by the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance program.

The mission of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is to cure cystic fibrosis and to provide all people with the disease the opportunity to lead full, productive lives by funding research and drug development, promoting individualized treatment and ensuring access to high-quality, specialized care.

And now let’s hear from a local veteran stair climb racer, Josh Jackett!

How did you get into stair climb races?

Before I started stair climbing, I first started running in 2011 as a means of staying in shape. The next year, in 2012, I ran my first 5K and I loved it. Over the course of the rest of the year, I started running more and more races.

Late that same year, a longtime family friend suffered an aneurysm and a subsequent series of strokes. She bounced around a few hospitals and rehab centers before ultimately receiving tremendous treatment at the rehabilitation center that puts on the yearly SkyRise Chicago—a 103-story stair climb to the top of Willis (Sears) Tower. In January 2013, following her treatment, one of her daughters posted something on Facebook saying she and her other siblings were looking to form a team later on that year as a way to support that organization for how they’d helped her mom.

I figured I liked running in races, so why not try racing up a building? About a week after that Facebook post, I learned about a Milwaukee climb in March at the US Bank Center downtown. Since Willis Tower is more than double the height of the Milwaukee building, I decided it would probably be wise to try the local climb first to see if I’d actually even like scaling the entirety of a building’s stairs.

The second I crossed the finish line, I was hooked. For as much as I loved running in road races, crossing the finish line at the top of a building was the most rewarding race experience I’d encountered. It’s not too scenic in a stairwell, but the view from a skyscraper’s observation deck more than makes up for it. I’ve now done more than 20 climbs across the country.

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What are some of the bigger stair climb events held around the Milwaukee area? Are these types of races common around this area?

Stair climbs aren’t too common in general. There are only about 250 to 300 stair climbs per year throughout the entire US; however, if you’re into stair climbing, Milwaukee’s a good place to be. Not including stadium climbs, there are two local climbs each year, plus six not too far away in Chicago. There are also another dozen or so within about a 6-hour drive radius.

Like nearly all climbs throughout the country, both Milwaukee climbs are primarily charity fundraising events. Each March, the American Lung Association in Wisconsin holds its Fight For Air Climb, which offers participants a single climb (one time up) or a “power hour” (climb to the top as many times as you can in an hour). Then, each November the Wisconsin Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation puts on this particular climb, CF Climb Milwaukee, which offers only a single climb. Both events utilize the same building—the 47-story US Bank Center.

How is training for a stair climb event different from training for a running event?

Not everyone trains the same, and stair climbing does attract a cross-section of endurance athletes and fitness fanatics from varying disciplines—runners, cyclists, triathletes, CrossFitters—but I’ve met a decent number of runners who’ve transitioned well into stair climbing. Some of the best climbers I’ve met come from running backgrounds, in fact. Running is my main activity, too, so I train for stair climbing primarily through running. This isn’t the same for every runner who does climbs, but personally, I run four days per week—which includes a hard workout run and a long run—but I do supplement my run training with some higher-intensity workouts, including weightlifting, plyometrics, actual stairwell training, and Jacobs Ladder workouts. High intensity work is important, as it prepares your body and mind for a climb. I also treat stair races much the same as I treat running events by periodizing my training (base phase, intensity buildup, race taper).

Are there any running skills that transfer over to stair climb races?

A good cardio base, running economy and muscular endurance in your legs (particularly the quads) are the primary things that transfer over. Anyone can participate in a stair climb, but because those are things runners gain by running, they tend to have a head start over many others who try out a climb.

It also helps to know your body. Runners put themselves through a lot of physical stress, so they tend to know what their bodies can handle. The stair experience is different, but listening to what you’ve learned about your body through running can help your effort throughout a climb.

Also, pacing! I personally still have tons of work to do when it comes to this—even in my road races—but proper pacing up dozens of stories of stairs is vital to a solid climb.

What tips & strategies do you recommend for first-time stair climb racers?

Not everyone trying a climb out for the first time is going for a fast time. That’s probably a wiser approach to a first climb. But, basically, if you’re trying to finish the fastest you can, some things you can do include double-stepping, using the railings to help pull yourself up, not actually running up the stairs, not starting too fast, and not stopping until you reach the top.

Good, efficient stair climbing is more like a power hike than a run. Even though the race is shorter in duration than most runs of any distance, your body’s demand for oxygen is much higher pushing yourself upward than it is propelling yourself forward. You’re doing a lot of the former and a little of the latter in a stair climb. Running up the stairs, or even simply climbing too fast, especially early on in a race will cause you to burn out or blow up pretty quickly and really badly.

Do not be afraid to use the railings to save some energy in your legs. Your upper body may wear down a little, but you’ll have spared your legs, which will help you finish. It’s also of note that if you can land no more than one foot on each landing to pivot onto the next flight, it’ll help save time, too. Some people take it easy on the landings as mini-breaks and tend to lose time that way.

As for double-stepping, it does require more power, strength, and muscular endurance, but if you can do it the whole way up, you’re cutting the number of strides it takes to reach the top in half. To me, double-stepping in a stair race is the equivalent of running in a road race, where single-stepping a stair climb is like walking a road race. I’ve also heard it said that single-stepping a stair race “is like being stuck in first gear.”

Specifically for this event – what types of things should racers consider to help them plan their race?

First, get there early and get check-in out of the way. Make sure you do a warm-up. It’s important in running, but between the range of motion in play and the oxygen you’ll use, getting your muscles activated and your body warm will help a lot. Save some for the climb, though, of course.

Also, judging from my own personal race results, as well as other runners I’ve encountered who’ve climbed the US Bank Center’s stairs, if you have a good balance of leg strength and endurance, and you execute well, your finishing time will optimally be around the per-mile pace you might typically do a 10K in. For instance, if you usually run a 55-minute 10K, you *should* be able to climb the US Bank Center in around 8:50-ish.

This doesn’t mean you will, especially your first time out—usually it takes some experience understanding the effort required in a stair race to reach that mark or better. Plus, some runners are more imbalanced toward endurance and less toward strength/power/muscular endurance, which might negatively affect them reaching that mark. It might be a good starting point to come up with a pacing strategy, though. Maybe figure out a target time around your 10K per-mile pace, possibly a tad slower to be safe, then break the race down into chunks, aiming to be at certain floors by certain times. Or, if you’re a “by effort” road racer, try that out here, too. Just don’t start too fast; it’ll feel easy until it doesn’t.

Is there any race etiquette or rules that people should keep in mind at a stair climb race?

Among those who climb regularly and/or competitively, the key pieces of etiquette center around climbing unimpeded (i.e., not having to pass anyone). Stairwells are only so wide, so races tend to release participants in waves—often based on how fast climbers are—and within those waves, climbers go one at a time, every few seconds.

No race is perfect at arranging start waves, but often within those waves, climbers sort of self-seed themselves at the start line in order of who thinks they’ll be the fastest down to who thinks they’ll be the slowest. “Fitness profiling” at the start line isn’t an exact science either, and it’s not always possible, so more important than that is letting faster climbers PASS ON THE INSIDE. Some climb events have it backwards and suggest that faster climbers pass on the outside, but even at those events I’d still recommend trying to pass on the inside.

Everyone should try to climb along the inside railing (the side where you turn). Some people who want a slow, leisurely climb might stay to the outside, which is fine. But at the US Bank Center, the inside is the right side, as every turn to the top is a right turn. Climbing on the inside is the most efficient way to climb, as, distance-wise, it’s the shortest path to the finish line. If someone faster than you is approaching you from behind, it takes far less energy for you to step out of the way for a second to let them pass than it is for them to step around you and try to pass. It creates extra distance for them to travel. In some situations, you might not be aware of someone approaching from behind. So, for ease of things, be alert and courteous. If you’re about to pass someone, let them know your intent; if you’re about to be passed, step aside and let them go.

Any other comments?

I can’t tell you how many fellow runners I’ve met who are wary/leery of trying a stair climb. It’s not necessarily easy, but I think more runners would enjoy it than they think. Also, if nothing else, stair climbing is a fantastic way to cross-train for running, especially for those hilly courses. I work with a running coach who likens it to an exaggerated form of hill running. It builds tremendous leg strength, it improves your running economy, and it helps your mental toughness. Plus, you can’t beat the view at the top.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Julie and Josh! There’s still time to register for this year’s CF Climb Milwaukee. To learn more about the race or to register, visit the race website.

Keep Running MKE – you’re doing great!