“Almost” half a marathon, a full view of Lake Monona

By Zhaoyan Zhang

The 2018 Lake Monona 20km Run and 5km Run/Walk, which will start at 9 a.m. on Saturday,  May 5, provides a beautiful running course around one of Madison’s area lakes bordering the isthmus.

Participants can choose either of 20km run or 5km run. Both of the courses start and end on Nichols Road near Winnequah Park. The 20km course, roughly 12.4 miles, is a loop around Lake Monona clockwise. A half marathon is about 13.1 miles, so the 20km race is advertised as the “almost” half marathon. The 5km course, roughly 3.1 miles, is more friendly to amateur runners and people who prefer walking; it includes a part of 20km course and loops around the Winnequah Park.

The top three male finishers and female finishers in each age division will win awards, which will also be based on age divisions. However, every finisher will win a medal to mark their experience.

The Lake Monona Run is owned by Race Day Events, a company that strives to provide equipment and services to running events throughout the Midwest.

Photo by Lake Monona 20KM Run

Ryan Griessmeyer, the founder and owner of Race Day Events, started his business in 2006. In an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal, he said Lake Monona Run was one of their most well-known events.

Erin Schleicher, the Director of Marketing at Race Day Events, said that around 2,400 people—mostly from Dane County—registered for this year’s race. Their ages ranged from 4 years old to 83 years old, Schleicher said.

According to Schleicher, Lake Monona Run is an amateur-based event. It is family-friendly and welcomes every individual in the community to participate. Through the event, Race Day Events encourages more people to take part in sports and enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

Although this is a timed race, participants can feel free to walk. Additionally, the beautiful view of Lake Monona throughout the run makes the race more enjoyable for everyone.

“This course was developed 40 years ago by the original race director to highlight the lake and show off Madison,” Schleicher said. “We would like to provide a fun and healthy event for everyone to enjoy.”

The results of the 2017 Lake Monona Run provided by Race Day Events showed that there were 1,253 people in total completed the run last year. The average finishing time was around 1 hour 56 minutes, and 57 percent of the finishers were males, and 43 percent were females.

Photo by Lake Monona 20KM Run

Scott Lai, now a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, finished the 20km run last year with about an average time.

“I used to run a half marathon in Florida. The Lake Monona run was a very different experience,” Lai said. “You would meet people who dressed funny, or some parents cheering up their little kids. Also you could enjoy the beautiful lake view while running. That made the run way easier to me.”

For experienced runners, like Lai, the Lake Monona Run serves as great training for the upcoming  marathon races. However, for more people without such experience, Lake Monona Run is a good opportunity to challenge themselves.

Suzy Kong, a senior at UW-Madison, registered for the upcoming Lake Monona Run, yet she has  ran in a race before.

“I met a marathon race once when I had a walk by Lake Mendota last summer,” Kong said. “I saw people running, and they seemed excited and healthy; That inspired me.”

Kong indicated that, due to her  heavy workload in college, completing exercise regularly could be difficult sometimes. However, she hoped this race would bring some changes.

“It’s not a simply race for me. It can be the start point of developing a healthy attitude,” Kong said. “I’m so excited because I’ll be able to cross it off my bucket list in Madison right before I graduate.”

This year, the Lake Monona Run celebrates 40th year providing the beautiful course around the lake for runners as one of its traditions. Race Day Events also attempts to develop innovations for the iconic event each year.

“Each year we try to make it bigger and better,” Schleicher said. “We’ve added live music, a 5K run five years ago, and this year we added a new EventApp. We also try to think out of the box for our participant shirt and medal designs.”

Photo by Lake Monona 20KM Run

The post-race party this year will have Wheelhouse, a local band, giving a live concert. In addition, one of the sponsors of the race, Wisconsin Brewing Company, will offer beers and snacks for runners.

Griessmeyer told Wisconsin State Journal that entertainment after the race provides a venue for people to hang out, so they can stay and share experiences with each other. Griessmeyer said creating an experience for participants at the finish line after the race was a big trend in race production.

Also, families and friends are welcomed to watch the race, according to Griessmeyer. Race Day Events provide multiple viewing areas for spectators.

“The race will be held rain or shine, but it’s good to know that it will be a sunny day on May 5,” Schleicher said. “We believe every runner will have an unforgettable experience.”

More information can be found on the event’s website: http://www.lakemonona20k.com/.