Oshkosh will always hold a special place in my heart. I have many wonderful memories from my days at UWO and jumped at the chance to run through the streets to for a moment relive my youth when my good friend Katie suggested we register for the marathon this year. I had run the 1/2 marathon a few years back, but had not tackled the marathon which was added in 2015. I had heard great things about the course and its use of the Tribal Heritage Trail. I was pleased to see that registration costs were reasonable ($80 at the time I signed up), there was day of packet pick up, and the distance from Luxemburg would not require overnight stay...winner, winner chicken dinner - sign me up!
The morning of the race we were able to quickly find a parking spot and walk over to the packet pick up area in the Best Western hotel (aka Oshkosh Convention Center). We both commented that there were a lot of people in the hotel, more so than either of us remembered from previous runnings of this event. Grabbing our race bibs and goodie bags was a seamless, quick process. There was very little fanfare in the convention center so we headed back to the car to finish getting dressed and head to the porta-potties. The lines were quite lengthy so Katie had on an expedition to find another location inside the finish area.
With about 5 minutes to the 7 am start we headed the 500 feet from our car to the start line and located our corral. Katie is much faster than I am so she headed up to the start. Pacers were used to segregate of the runners, but the 1/2 and full marathoners were mixed together. The start was a bit congested and confusing. Full marathoners were suppose to start 1st and 10 minutes later the half marathoners were to take off...this did not happen. The announcer came on and counted everyone down and off the whole group went. The first mile was slow going as the mob headed down Fraternity Row (Algoma Street). What a trip down memory lane! I was able to check out all the changes that have occurred since I was an undergrad student. Much to my surprise my sorority house was no longer in the same location. The Alpha Xi Deltas now are across the street from the place that I lived my junior year. Times have sure changed. The campus looked amazing with renovations to many buildings and the addition of a new Union area. To be young again and back in college. This little tour did not last long as we snaked our way through town and onto the trail.
We spent about 2 miles in town before we met with the Wiouwash State Recreational Trail and eventually headed onto the Tribal Heritage Trail. We would stay on the trails for the next 8 miles or so before being turned around at mile 10. This by far was my favorite part of this event. The sights and sounds to this area were amazing. We traveled over several wooden bridges (which were thankfully flat in nature) and got to take in the beauty of the area. The weather held around 45 degrees throughout the day and the rain stayed away until roughly 11:20 am. It was a great day for running.
The trails were a bit squishy from the previous days of rain, but not bad. I could feel the effort that was put in on the uneven surface and my legs were tired by mile 20. Knowing that we eventually would need to head back into the city I thought the concrete would be a welcomed change. What I did not anticipate was the last 4 miles of turns! We traversed through several streets turning A LOT. On tired legs this was tough and reminder that 26.2 miles is a distance to respect. Add on top of the turns we also experienced rain in the last few miles and a bridge to climb, it was a difficult finish and unique finish (more on that in a minute).
The Oshkosh Marathon was my 1st full marathon, but it did bring about a few 1st time occurances. Let's start with the awesome experience - Katie ran an a 3:33 which is the 1st time she has run a Boston Qualifying time! She has worked so hard over the last 9 years to achieve this lifetime goal. I am beyond proud and happy for her. Now for the not so cool 1st - I vomited at mile 23 in a porta-potty. Yuck to say the least and not something that I would like to EVER repeat!
All in all this was great race. In the future having more porta-potties at the start of the race, a stronger expo the day before (without a speaker & a lot of vendors we did not feel the need to travel down earlier to get our stuff), and a clearer start for each distance - I can see myself running this race again next year. I have passed these suggestions on to the guys at DuTriRun who are always receptive to suggestions and put on many quality events in Wisconsin.