The Wisconsin Marathon took place on Saturday May 2nd, 2015 in Kenosha, Wisconsin – a town of 100,000 residents located about 45 minutes south of downtown Milwaukee and 1.5 hours north of Chicago. Normally, I would go into a rant about my hatred of Saturday marathons (because who has time for Friday bib pick-ups) but since I was in Chicago on Friday, the drive to Kenosha afterwards worked out quite well. Being the eastcoast self centered gal that I am, I don’t know much about the midwest, or Wisconsin, besides the fact that they have cheese. Kenosha seemed like a relatively quaint town with not a lot going on, but they did have a few tasty joints to eat at, and a pretty waterfront around lake Michigan.
Although, the race was on a Saturday (with I think no number pick-up on race day), they made bib pick up super easy! I believe they had a day or 2 in both Chicago and Miwaukee if you’re in that area, or on Friday up until 7PM as the “expo.” The expo to be honest might have been the smallest I’ve seen yet in an expo attempt. It was in the of a Best Western, parking was easy since there was no one there. Number took about 30 seconds, picked up a shirt. They had local medal display sales person and a chiropractor there. They also had I believe Jesus people table next to the photobooth.
The issue with small races out in small towns is the lodging situations tend to be quite limited. Your options are, be local and drive, Best Western or a further hotel. Due to lack of options at all, we stayed at Radisson Hotel, which cost way more than it was worth per night, and they didn’t allow me for late check out to 1PM, massive grossness. Plus, although Kenosha is not very large, they had some road constructions, so it took us always about 25 minutes to get to downtown area. But hey, at least it was near so outlets where you can buy expired Milano cookies and Ghirardelli chocolates. We did check Airbnb and most things were booked by then as well. late bird losses the better lodging options I guess.
The race started at 7AM and as much as I grumbled about the early start, it was going to be a beautiful sunny day so a 6AM start probably wouldn’t have hurt me too much either.
Unlike the wake up for Boston, it was a gorgeous day!
So off I went to the start line, 10 minutes to 7AM. They had some roads closed, but the runner drop off area was super easy and about 2 minute walk from the start. They had a special cheese corral if you wore yellow or cheese type things. Temperature was climbing up the 50s and just waiting to burst out into the 70s.
I thought about going straight to the front of the start line, but decided I’m no shape to play the ego game and put myself somewhere around the 4 hours marathon pace group, although if you do enough small races, the pace groups at the start are always together and just spread out naturally on their pace.
I don’t know much about the area, but here is my concept of the course – first 10K is a circle to the right, next 10K is a circle to the left followed by a repeat to the right with an extend loop to some country roads for about 13 miles.
A portion of the race hit up the water front with a great view and some local beautiful homes.
And while the course for the most part is flat, I did find the bumps of up and down some small bridges and bike paths to be mildly frustrating. Luckily, the second half of the marathon was much smoother and feature some dirt roads that felt a gazillion times better on my foot.
And although I’m not sure if the roads were ever officially closed to traffic, I don’t think I really saw more than one car.
The my emotions and energy level seemed to bounce around the same, first 10K feeling great, second 10K feeling like crap wondering how the heck am I doing 13 miles more, nice 2nd wind for the next 10 miles and dragging myself and whatever is left of me for the final 5K.
This same view that I passed about 4 times seemed so friendly on my 24!
I know many runners who have been injured, or had though breaks, or even just age know this feeling, but running faster and less fit than you were before is never that fun. However, at the same time, you gotta realize you’re still doing more than lots of other people can be doing, so you just gotta enjoy it!
Either way, I already adjusted my goals from the start. My goal was to break four hours. I felt like with all going well, I could do that even if I failed it two weeks ago in Boston.
The tech shirt that came with the race bib featured the same design with a full black background.
The finish area was super chill. I was a little nervous that since it was a half marathon and a full, they would run out of food, but they did have a food ticket so I was able to grab my light beer, my wurst and a cheese sample or three. I rolled around in the grass a bit, trying to stretch before I gathered the energy to walk to the car so Tony and I can continue our trip to Milwaukee! I thought I would be really sore, but after a shower and change of clothes, I found enough energy for some sightseeing.
The Final Verdict on Wisconsin Marathon B+ (7/10)
- Friendly volunteers and crowd with lots of funny little signs to make you smile on the route. They might not have the same level of spectators as a big city marathon, but the spirit of the whole race, volunteers, and locals made up for it
Empty roads, I don’t think the roads were officially closed for the whole races, but I found the few drivers I saw super supportive.
3,000 runners, I think a few K runners is my favorite amount of runners for a race. I just really hate being packed in with other runners, but at the same time I don’t want to feel alone and lost. I found that these type of events with about 3 thousand runners always feels the best for me.
Well organized event – race started on time, number pick up was easy, parking was easy, food available at the end, enough water stops.
Flat – although bumping in the start, is a pretty flat course.
Close to Chicago and Milwaukee, two fun places to visit
Fairly affordable – Race day fee was $90, but if you signed up early it was $70. Not a bad per mile rate when you come to what you pay for a Competitor group event.
- Limited lodging options. I heard there was VIP lodging at the host hotel, but it sold out by January for a May Event
Repetitive first half with a lot of turns. My garmin distance was a little bit off and while i don’t think the course was definitely long, the turns of back and forth in the first 13 miles were draining. I think we also repeated some areas multiple times in circles.
Rough roads at times – Wisconsin struggles with the same problem New England does. After a long winter, the roads get a bit, okay more than a bit roughed up.
More cheese – I kinda was hoping there would be some cheese at water stops haha