2019 Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon recap

Scott Stauske-Race Director

The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, more affectionately known as LFM, is an event that caters to runners of all abilities.  Each year LFM hosts a large number of first time marathoners, runners with their eye on a BQ, and veteran runners out check off a new state.  On the first Sunday of October for the last 39 years, runners have converged on Southeast Wisconsin for their 26.2 mile journey from Grafton High School to the Milwaukee Lakefront. 

If you were a spectator, volunteer or athlete at last years event, you know that weather has a lot to do with the success of our finish and last year’s soggy Veteran’s Park was less than ideal despite all the preparations that our volunteers made.  So this year we focused on solutions and come up with a winner.  The picturesque Hank Aaron Trail behind the Summerfest Grounds painted a perfect ending.  With Lake Michigan literally yards away, covered bandshell in case of inclement weather, tons of space and yes, indoor plumbing, rave reviews were heard.!  From the comments received, we believe we have made an improvement certain to capture the attention of many more runners from around the world.

This year we had runners from 7 countries, over 3000 finishers and so many happy Boston Qualifiers.  The perception of the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon has been: a well-organized race with just the right number of runners to create a big-city feel. The addition of an extra JumboTron at mile 20, increased prize money, a focus on a quality participant shirt and medal, a band on a huge stage, sponsors with tons of signage and an after-party in the sun that kept a smile on everyone’s face showcased that we are indeed a world-class event.

Our Expo. was once again held at the UW-Milwaukee Ballroom and not only was it a festive and inviting place for runners to pick up their bibs but it was also filled with race specific merchandise and great vendors showing off new technology, information and nutrition.  For the first time ever, the wonderful guys at Cream City Pacers hosted a LIVE podcast with a panel of elites.  If you are not familiar with the CCP podcasts, check them out!  They do a wonderful job of interviewing influencers in the SE WI running scene.  Informative and fun! 

Race day started off like so many other previous Milwaukee Lakefront Marathons, with a bus trip to the start line where athletes were treated to coffee while staying warm and dry in the confines of Grafton High School.  As the announcements indicated that the starting time was starting to dwindle, racers made their journey toward our start line seeing the sun and just about perfect running temperatures. Anticipation mounted as thousands had a last-minute visualizations.  The starting gun crackled in the clear morning and the journey of 26.2 miles pushed forward.  Water stops approximately every 2 miles were well-stocked by the enthusiastic clubs cheering runners on, the municipalities had plenty of support keeping our athletes and spectators safe and our lead bikers looked after the throngs and of course those males and females that were leading the charge.  With a bonus of $5000 on the line for the first male and/or female with a gun finish time of 3:19:00/3:45:00 or under in addition to their overall winning stipend, our leaders gave it all they had.  This year saw some of fastest times yet!  Congratulations to overall male winner, Sammy Rotich with a time of 2:17:10 (yes, he received a check for $6500!) and to local runner Liz Berkholtz who just missed the bonus by 27 seconds with a finish time of 2:45:27.  Both of these runners will receive lifetime FREE entry into the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon and will wear the Champions bib.  I look forward to personally inviting them back and helping to make this more competitive and fun for all.

There are way too many people that deserve our thanks for their energy and time but they know who they are and they have my sincere appreciation.  If you participated this year and want to give back, our leadership team is already planning for the first Sunday in October 2020.  Please consider joining us as a volunteer so you can give back to those that gave you inspiration.  I would also like to add that each year we are increasing our sponsorships in an effort to provide more aesthetics, value and atmosphere.  Thank you to those who stepped up to help create a win-win and we look forward to having you back.

October 4, 2020 will be the 40th Anniversary of the Badgerland Striders annual marathon.  If you enjoyed this years event I invite you to get ready for the tweaks, new ideas and perks we look forward to providing.  Become a Facebook friend, check your email and stay-tuned for the updates as we will open registration at the end of November.