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OUR HISTORY

The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon has a storied legacy, rooted in the early days of Wisconsin's running community. Originating in 1973 as the Wisconsin Mayfair Marathon, the event transitioned to its current format in 1981 under the stewardship of the Badgerland Striders, becoming the Lakefront Marathon. This inaugural race heralded a new era with its picturesque point-to-point course along Lake Michigan from Grafton to Milwaukee, setting the stage for decades of memorable running experiences.

 

Throughout its evolution, the marathon has embraced a runner-centric ethos, prioritizing community support and volunteer-driven organization. Despite early challenges securing permits and sponsors, the race steadily gained traction, attracting elite athletes and offering prize money by 1983. Notable performances, like Steve Benson's record-breaking 2:14:09 in 1981, underscored the marathon's emergence as a premier event.

 

Under the guidance of successive race directors and sponsors, the marathon continued to thrive, introducing innovations such as the ChampionChip timing system in 1999 and expanding race features like relays to accommodate diverse participant preferences. The early 2000s marked a period of significant growth, with race director Kris Heinrichs ushering in new initiatives like chip timing, expanded expos, and increased prize offerings.

 

In 2022, the official Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon was canceled due to a permit disagreement. Unrelenting, members of the Milwaukee running community organized Not The Lakefront Marathon, a free race complete with aid stations, race markers, pacers, timers, bibs and an amazing afterparty, all thanks to volunteers from OMG, Badgerland Striders, and November Project.

 

Today, the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon continues to attract runners from around the globe, drawn by its scenic course, flat terrain conducive to personal records, and the enduring spirit of camaraderie that defines this iconic event in the heart of Wisconsin's running community.

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