In fifth grade, I had to do a state project. Pick any state in the United States of America to research and create a presentation on. It was one of our biggest projects of the year. I was picked as one of the first students to choose my state. I knew from the moment she described the project, I would choose Wisconsin. Not Hawaii, with the iconic beaches or Colorado for it’s endless mountains, but Wisconsin! So, it was no surprise that I was excited to head out to the Wisconsin Marathon Saturday morning in Kenosha.
Kenosha is a darling town right on Lake Michigan, just an hour from Chicago. As we walked over to the starting line, the sun peaked through the clouds over the lake, but to the southwest dark clouds were emerging and it was quickly noticeable that a storm was rolling in. Temperatures began to lower and the wind began to pick-up. We wondered if this storm would cause a delay in the start, but the national anthem carried on and no sooner we were off! The first few miles started south and then headed back up north. On our way up north was when my love/hate relationship with the wind began. When going north, the wind was very much against us. We are talking sand in the eyes, in the socks, in the hair and everywhere else you could imagine. Luckily, the turnaround at around 7.5 miles gave us some relief and the wind was at our backs for the next… wait a minute, now the wind began hitting from all directions!
As we headed back south, passing the start/finish area, it was time to come to terms with the fact we were only halfway through. Half marathoners made their turnaround at mile 11, but marathoners kept going straight south. Now, things got serious. The cheers along the course quieted and it felt as if only a few remained. The next 8 miles were a mix of pavement and gravel road. The course took you along the beautiful Lake Michigan coast and made turns through Kenosha neighborhoods. At mile 19, we hit the turnaround and headed back towards the start. Bless all those wonderful volunteers who patiently handed out water and gels at mile 19. However, the wind was back with vengeance and made the next 5 miles feel like a relentless wind tunnel. Bring it on! Eventually, we ran through the stretch along Lake Michigan and at mile 25 we were back in the Kenosha neighborhood, just outside of the downtown area. Ahhhh, wind subsided and we were in the last stretch!
As we made our way passed the harbors and through downtown Kenosha, I could hear the announcer cheering runners through the chute. We were close! Really close! Through the chute we went and will the cheers ringing my ears, I no longer could feel the wind. We finished this early season, windy and beautiful marathon. Post race party in Wisconsin requires brats, beers and music. That were, no doubt, delicious and satisfyingly refueling. The volunteers were incredibly kind, caring and helpful. But, what else could you expect, it’s the best state ever! At least in my book.
Sidenote: Great course for your first marathon. Efficiently aided and exciting post race celebration.