After a semi-good night’s sleep, we rose early to ensure a good parking spot and acquaint ourselves with the coarse. Scouting out the coarse, or the “area of operations” is very important in the pre-race hours. We have learned a thing or two from previous races that finding essential areas is very important to make a run run smoothly. ( See how I was able to put two run’s together and have it STILL make sense? Pretty cool eh?)
It’s is ALWAYS a good idea to find the bathrooms BEFORE the event….Or before too many people show up. (Lesson learned from Grandma’s Marathon.)
It is usually a good idea to find the start AND the finish line. This saves the headache of trying to find each other after the race is over and there are thousands of people milling around. This event finished by the water front of a large lake.
The after party was scheduled to take place on a very scenic deck overlooking the water. The bistro’s they had setting out were very colorful and perhaps a little too large for people as small as Cheryl. Undaunted, She wanted to make sure she could sit at the “Big Kid’s Table” with the rest of the finisher, when the time finally comes.
From there, it was time to hunt down the Mascot! Cheryl read that Bucky the Badger ( The University of Wisconsin’s official Mascot) was going to be there. It is ALWAYS a good idea to try to hunt down the Mascot BEFORE the you are hot, sticky, slimy and gross. And before everyone else swarms the poor guy trying to get selfies. We located Bucky next to the start gate where Cheryl was lining up for her pace group. I quickly pushed some kid in a wheelchair out of the way so Cheryl could pose for a picture. Mission Accomplished!
I secured a nice position under a tree and away from the crowds. Luckily, the crowds were smaller than they were at the Bix 7. I had some time to take a few scenic pictures of the surrounding area…including WAY too many pictures of Bucky. ( What can I say…..He’s a Mascot!) I also took pictures of birds and random strangers, police cars, and the Pep- BAND!
The Band ROCKED, by the way. Sure there were not many of them, but the sound and spirit really elevated the event to a new height for me. I can’t help it, music seems to make everything more festive! The COURSE ( As in Race Course, Not Coarse. I guess I have been misspelling that word all along.) circled around at a few points and the Band was cool enough to follow the crowd and continue the spirit music. DJ’s are cool, but seldom mobile. The Band was able to march over and keep the sound playing.
So the start was slightly uphill and the runners were thin enough for me to identify Cheryl and take a few early pics. There were over 3000 runners here, but most of the 5k’ers were segregated to a different start location. This thinned out the herd considerably so I could see people and select out my target much easier.
I then ran to the two mile mark where the runners were routed to run. ( More Alliteration!) It was amazing how the groups had thinned out even more at this point. Cheryl was even easier to find this time! Check out her “twin” . ( black top and orange shorts) Sometimes the only way to find her is to look for the colors of her clothes. It can be a challenge when you see someone running in the same outfit ( or one that closely resembles her’s) in the mile of a huge crowd. Luckily, most of the people running were behind her and I was able to score some “mid-race footage”!
I snapped a few more pictures of people. Notably the large Polar Bear. Funny how the people running seemed to notice me more than the fact that there was a Polar Bear running behind them. I’m not sure how far the Bear made it, but that Fur must have been hot to run in.
I moved on down to the finish and set up on the skywalk overlooking the final stretch of the race. The 5k-ers were trickling in while a NEW Mascot was cheering them on with high-fives and waves. Small trivial: I was on the very bridge that the movie “Back To School” was filmed on. ( I guess, I was not even aware that movie was shot in Madison Wisconsin)
In addition to the Lion, the guy in the Blue shirt was an Olympic gold medalist in Speed Skating. I guess they asked him to join the race because the other two mascots were not enough. However, I fail to see how speed skating and Half Marathon Running have much in common. It didn’t really matter though, The more the merrier, I say!
I was impressed that the pace setters pretty much came in alone. I guess there were not many people that were relying on them for the pace. This race had only been running ( pun intended) for 7 years now. So it is possible that there are still not many Elites ( from Kenya or Ethiopia) in the running….( another Pun!)
Shortly after the 1:40 mark, I kept an eye out for Cheryl. I had a good vantage point so I took plenty of pics as she raced towards a new 13.1 mile record!. Plenty of pics, except the one of Bucky giving her the high 5! Nice.
So, for the final tally: Cheryl ran the 13.1 miles in ( official chip time) 1 hour 43 minutes 59 seconds! A full one minute and 54 seconds off her previous time for this distance. ( she also set a new 10k record!)
Overall Place: 461 out of 3202 finishers
Gender place:108 out of 1775 females
Average pace: 7:57 minutes per mile. ( That is well above Army standard…and we only ran 4 miles at a shot!)
So Cheryl linked up with me at the after party for our complimentary beer and bananas. We managed to track down the Lion Mascot and take his picture as well. Small note: While cropping these pictures, I noticed that there was this lady who seemed to be oblivious to our Photo Op. It was almost like she wanted to be part of the picture…so I decided to include her….Enjoy!
We decided to skip the Brats, even though we ARE in Wisconsin….the home of all things German. We instead decided to save room for Ice Cream and see about lunch on the way home. The Entire Trip only took about 3.3 hours….minus the bathroom breaks…mostly for me. ( I like coffee while I drive!) Cheryl drove most off the way back…thankfully. I was on the cusp of a cold late last night and did not sleep very well. I welcomed the break from driving. Plus Cheryl wanted to drive the Subie because she does not get the honor very often and I drove all the way to Madison on Friday.
In the end, it was a fun Spur-Of-The-Moment trip that went off pretty well. Cheryl got a race in while being able to run at a fast pace. Good training for the Twin Cities Marathon coming up in October! Now the Work begins to see if we can extend the distance for that pace. We have several more 20 mile training runs scheduled before the race….so we shall see how things work out. In the end, this was one of the only runs available in August, and the weather and race planning all worked out. Enjoy the remainder of the pictures. I shot many many more than what are listed here on this posting. Enjoy!