- 3 miles/5K, 5 miles/8K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Other
- Road Race
- Event Website
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Lots of changes from last year!
T-Shirts/SWAG: all runners get a gender-specific long-sleeve tech shirt with thumb holes! Participants were able to switch sizes at the expo. Also given to each runner is a bag with tons of fliers in it that had discounts for local races and some local stores. I wish they would go to a virtual swag bag for this kind of stuff, since I just recycle most of it anyways.
Aid Stations: Each aid station was staffed with volunteer groups who had so much energy and were so motivating! Some of them had music and costumes and an encouraging word to share with each runner who grabbed some liquid! For the half, I thought they were perfectly spaced out and in fact, even though I carry water with me for each race, I only drank out of my water bottle twice.
Course Scenery: I love that the half course shows some of the best parts of Milwaukee! Growing up here, I feel that the kid of "mission" of this race to show off MKE is accomplished with the course! Old World 3rd Street (past Mader's German restaurant and Old German Beer Hall - which was open for business!), the Summerfest grounds, the Third Ward, around Discovery World and the Calatrava at the Art Museum - shows the best of what Milwaukee has to offer!
Expo Quality: I really wish they would find a bigger area to hold the expo. They have a lot of vendors and other races with booths but it's so crowded and the half marathon bib pick-up did NOT have good signage - last year there were signs with the bibs arranged by last name and while I'm pretty sure the bibs were arranged the same, everyone was in the same line and the volunteers were running every which way to get each person's bib. Another reason it needs to be in a bigger space: the kid's run is right before when the packet pick-up starts and it's so crowded in there with parents and the kids who ran, so it is literally wall to wall people with no easy way to move or get in and out. PLEASE FIND A BIGGER SPACE!
Elevation: They definitely added some hills this year! Some of them are those nasty gradual inclines that you don't necessarily notice until you're halfway up and your legs are screaming. Love the challenge!
Parking/Access: There was parking available in two structures near Veteran's Park along the lakefront (I parked in the O'Donnell parking structure and it was $8) or they opened lots right by the start/finish and of course, there's always street parking.
Race Management: Chris Ponteri, the RD, is pretty awesome and very active in the MKE running community. I truly believe he loves putting on this event and making it a wonderful experience for all the participants! I could tell, as someone who ran it last year, that he took the feedback and worked very hard to improve the race.
Some of the changes made:
- Coors Light was the alcohol sponsor this year and all runners could get a free Coors at the end. They also had some of the other Coors branded beer available for purchase. I would love for them to partner with a local microbrewery since we have so many of them in Milwaukee. I'll just be honest, I don't like Coors (or any Miller products, really) and it would be great to give the business and publicity to a LOCAL company (instead of a big corporation like MillerCoors)! Sprecher was also there with flavored sodas.
- Food trucks were there with a variety of options for runners and spectators to purchase.
- There was a climbing wall and a bouncy house which, I get was to make the Finish Line Party more family friendly, but it was kind of weird and random.
- The Start/Finish like was moved from the Summeriest grounds to Veteran's Park, which allows for a beautiful view of the lake and downtown.
- The Finish Line Party was nice, lots of picnic tables for people to sit and eat, plus a DJ to keep the vibe more party-like. I do think it was a little TOO spread out, and the tents for gear check were on the other side of the party from the finish line, which is kind of cruel to the runners who just finished to make them walk the whole way across just to get their stuff.
- Race photos are FREE! Every race should do this, let's just be real.
I think that MKE RunFest should look at other running festivals (such as Runner's World) to see how they do the whole "festival" concept. Nothing against 5K-ers but I think they should do the Kid's run, 1 Mile, and 5K on Saturday and do the two longer distances on Sunday.
It's fun to see how things improve from year to year and the changes that are made.