This was my 3rd year running this race and as always, the event staff hit it out of the park! The weather was gorgeous and although there is no control over the weather, it seems as though this race has always been blessed with sunny skies. And actually, Whewh!!! it was a WARM one in the upper 70's at the finish!
From the race swag to the course details....if you're anywhere close to La Crosse, WI - this NEEDS to be on your bucket list. The course isn't a walk in the park though; quite literally, there are all sorts of elevation changes right from the beginning! Make sure you're ready for hills because throughout the first 7 miles of the course, elevation changes frequently. The later half is mostly flat, so you can look forward to that.
The course starts on the iconic and beautiful TOP OF THE BLUFF. There is a very nice 2 mile downhill where you're sure to pick up some speed, but make sure you use some control or your quads will be screaming by the end. Most of the "meat" of the course winds through lovely neighborhoods and bike paths, and it's at the last 3 miles of the race that the beauty of the Mississippi River starts to unfold. I really appreciated the course change, which utilized a NEW path along the river.
The water stations are equipped with water and Gatorade at every stop and several had opportunities to grab race fuel. I'm not one to grab fuel that I haven't prepared myself, but I think it was GU on the course.
The expo is small, but this is a small race - I'm not sure on the numbers but I think only 3,000 between the half, the 5K and the kids run. It's an expo with a few booths and a grab n go race bib. My suggestion would be that the race directors have the packets ready at pickup - they put it together when you got there. Not a huge deal, but I think it may make things a bit more seemless.
The finish line is gorgeous! Full panoramic views of the Mississippi River bridge and a huge expansive park sitting right on the river! Grab a spot of grass and enjoy that finish line medal! The post-race party is one of the best. You are treated with Brats and Beer in true La Crosse fashion, but also can grab the usual fair of bananas, cookies and chips too! And, don't be afraid there is plenty to go around! My kids may have grabbed a snack too. SSHHH. :) And, speaking of kids - there is always a bouncy house to entertainment and ducks swimming at the edge of the river - ready for a snack!
But, the best is always last right? The medals are always AMAZING. I have three and they still manage to be my favorite every single year. I also liked the quality of the tshirt this year. Great brand and cute design. Maybe gender specific next year? - this year they were unisex.
This is definitely a race I will continue doing and one you should mark on your calendar. It's always the beginning of May and if you register early, the entry fee is reasonable. You will NOT be disappointed.