The Madison Marathon and Half Marathon took place Sunday in Madison, Wisc., with over 1,000 marathoners and 2,300 tackling the half.
The weekend kicked off with the expo and packet pick-up at Monona Terrace Convention Center on Friday and Saturday. Sunday packet pick-up was available at the race site for an additional fee. In addition to hosting nearly 20 vendors, the expo included a Meet and Greet with extreme athlete and author of See Dane Run, Dane Rauschenberg.
I learned the hard way that if you are planning to run the Madison Marathon or Half Marathon and the Badgers are playing at Camp Randall that weekend, you must book accommodations early. I ended up making two trips to Madison over the weekend—one for packet pick-up and then a VERY early drive on Sunday morning to get to the race before it’s 7 a.m. start. The good news—traffic is basically non-existent at 3:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning, so the drive took just over 2 hours. Race parking is readily available in a variety of parking garages, as well as street parking near the race site. Bonus—street parking is free on Sundays in Madison.
Gear check was located right next to the start corrals, which was greatly appreciated on a cold race morning. The marathon began at 7 a.m. and sent runners off to explore the Arboretum and highlights of the University of Wisconsin campus, such as Camp Randall Stadium. Unlike most marathon/half marathon combos, the races had separate start times and set off in different directions; this kept the two groups from ever really crossing paths and keeping the course from getting too congested. The half marathon began at 7:10 a.m. and participants set off towards Lake Mendota on what is also the second half of the full marathon course.
The first half of the marathon course is very similar to the Madison Mini Half Marathon, which is held mid-August; the first mile is downhill, but don’t get too comfortable—there are plenty of climbs to come in the remaining 25.2 miles! Runners are taken through the Arboretum during the first few miles, which is a colorful sight at this time of year and has minimal elevation change.
I ran the Madison Marathon last year, so I knew what I was in for—hills, hills and more hills—but I hadn’t prepared for them with hill training this season, so I also knew there was going to be suffering involved. With the exception of about three miles on the entire 26.2-mile course, you are either going up or down. Surprisingly, I felt great and was pacing to set a substantial course PR until mile 18. At that point the four massive climbs in Warner Park over the previous four miles broke me; my legs started screaming and my will to keep running towards a course PR disintegrated, knowing the hills still to come. Long climbs are featured in Maple Bluff at miles 21 and 22, and a long uphill climb comes at the last ¾ mile.
I started power-walking the climbs for the remaining 8 miles and spent the extra time calculating how slow I could go and still finish under 4:30. I crossed the finish line at 4:26:22 and was welcomed with a great medal and heat sheet, as well as Panera sack lunches, including a sandwich, cookie and chips; bottled water; fruit; a complimentary beer; and chocolate milk.
This year’s swag was a very soft long-sleeve, gender-specific, soft-feel 100 percent polyester t-shirt, featuring word art in the shape of Wisconsin highlighting various parts of the course. Onsite result print-outs and free race photo downloads, as well as live runner-tracking via the RaceJoy App, are just a few additional perks provided for participants’ convenience at the Madison Marathon and Half Marathon.
The Madison Marathon and Half Marathon are very scenic and well-run races on a very challenging course. It’s a course that rewards those that train for hills and adapt well to constantly changing terrain, and punishes those that do not.
Overall Marathon Male Winners:
- Brian Finnel, 2:22:48
- Arturs Bareikis, 2:23:14
- Luke Kibet, 2:26:09
Overall Marathon Female Winners:
- Chloe Staub, 3:01:25
- Julie Crutchfield, 3:01:48
- Claire Brickson, 3:10:35
Overall Half Mrathon Male Winners:
- Patrick Campbell, 1:08:12
- David Luy, 1:08:44
- Matt Barrett, 1:09:00
Overall Half Marathon Female Winners:
- Gabi Anzalone, 1:19:38
- Joan Massah, 1:20:12
- Michele Lee, 1:20:47