- 3 miles/5K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Relay
- Road Race
- Event Website
The Icebreaker race series is held on the run/walk track at the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The 445-meter track runs indoors around the Pettit's giant ice skating/hockey rink complex. The Icebreaker series consists of a 5K race Friday night, a half marathon and marathon relay on Saturday, and a marathon on Sunday. The race also offers a "Gold Medal Challenge" for people who run the half marathon Saturday and the full on Sunday. I participated in the half marathon. 13.1 miles was about 48 laps around the track.
How does it work?
The track has three lanes. Runners use the outside lane and pass in the middle lane. The inside lane is for passing when the other lanes are occupied. This makes for a fair amount of bouncing around between the lanes, but rarely was there any sort of backup or clog. It actually works really well.
The race is chip timed with timers that attach to the runners' ankles. This part was actually really cool: as you pass the timing mat, you could see your name on the screen with your time for the previous lap. They also broadcast how many laps each runner had left on two huge, scrolling screens.
There is one incredibly well-organized aid station where you are allowed to stow one bottle which you label with your bib number. When you'd like your bottle, you call out your number to the volunteers and they'll pass it to you on your next trip around the track. You can then run a lap (or two, or whatever) with your bottle and pass it back to the volunteers on your next trip around.
Isn't it, like, boring?
No. Not at all. Each race is limited to about 100 people (more than that would be kind of a mess), so while you do spend a fair amount of time bouncing around people, that also gives you a chance to make small talk with the same people over and over, if that's your thing.
Headphones were NOT allowed, but when you registered you also got to add a song to the race playlist which would be broadcast during the race. It made for an interesting playlist: there were tons of songs that you'd expect like some Taylor Swift, Walk the Moon, etc. (I was surprised to find much of my current running playlist made the list - I guess we all run to the same tunes), but along with those were a fair amount of dad joke-esque songs about running and circles (You Spin Me Round, Round and Round, Legs, etc.). Overall, it made for a pretty great playlist. An announcer would announce runners by name as they got to their final five laps, and then again on their last lap. I never found myself bored. (Tired of running, sure. Achy and a little crabby, yes. But never bored).
Also, I need to mention that the medal this year was actually really great - it was a simple medal in primary colors with a bold logo.
The air in the Pettit is very dry. That's necessary to maintain the integrity of the ice, but it does wear on your lungs a bit. I run at the Pettit regularly and I've found that taking a nice steaming hot shower soon after the race really helps with that. Also, because of this dryness you have to be really aware of your hydration levels. You might not feel thirsty, but you need to remember to drink.
I'd be neglectful if I didn't mention the post-race cookies. Homemade sugar cookies are a beloved feature of this race and they are every bit as good as they are hyped up to be.
Overall, I had more fun than I thought I would. The race was a bigger challenge than I expected because while the terrain was perfectly flat, pacing can be a real challenge. I may not put this race on my calendar every year, but as it is one of the few races of this distance in January I am sure I'll run it again in the future.