You know you’re not in Chicago when the race director’s welcome announcements include instructions on where to find a snake bite kit! This is how I began my half marathon this past Saturday, June 22, at the Hartfest Half Marathon in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Although this suburb is just minutes outside of Milwaukee, the entire course was nestled in the nature-filled trails of Southern, Wisconsin.
The Hartfest Half Marathon is an annual race put on by the Badgerland Striders, Wisconsin’s largest running club. The Striders are very affordable to join and you receive massive race discounts if you are a member. Plus they are an extremely active running club hosting social runs, events, and races nearly every weekend of the summer, throughout the Milwaukee area.
This race is extremely organized and the course is well supported by volunteers throughout the course. All runners began in Hart Park located in downtown Wauwatosa. There was ample street and lot parking, which was close to the start and finish line.
After crossing the start line, runners immediately pass over a set of railroad tracks and run through the downtown commercial area. Unfortunately, there was a freight train scheduled to pass at 8:30, which was also our start time, so the start was delayed by 15 minutes, as we waited for the train to pass. This is the second year in a row that the start time has been delayed by a train. Maybe in the future race directors could move our start time up or back to try and avoid the trains.
Luckily the crowd was in good spirits and enjoyed chatting while we waited for the train to pass. About 8:45, the gun went off and we began the race. The course wove through the downtown area, where runners were treated to a farmer’s market, outdoor yoga class, and an active restaurant scene. It was so charming to run through the morning events happening in Wauwatosa and the breakfast smells wafting over the course were motivation to finish fast!
After the first few miles, the rest of the course was rural as we tackled rocked trails, crushed gravel, and dirt trails. The course wove in and out of trails and road, making it a very interesting race to try and keep a steady cadence. We also ran through an urban farm area where people were harvesting a multitude of crops.
The course was charming and a fun escape from the city. It was challenging as the terrain and elevation kept changing. I found this course to be a great training run, but not one to earn a PR on. We routed back through the downtown area to the finish line, where all runners earned a fun bottle opener medal. Runners also received a technical singlet in bright yellow, great for early morning runs.
First through third female winners were: Denise Manthy, Kelly Johnson, and Abby Lankhorst.
First through third male winners were: Erl Martin, Kyle Fraser, and John Rapp.