Mark's Badgerland Blog
Greetings from my hometown of Saxon, WI! I'm going to write about running events throughout Wisconsin and the Western U.P. of Michigan; many of these events you may have never heard of but aren't too far away from the Twin Ports. I look forward to share my thoughts and experiences with you as both a recreational runner and race organizer.
July 27, 2012: Two July Runs in the Fox Cities
Bret Younger was the race director of the Fox Cities Marathon from 1994 through 2002. After I had moved to Omro in 2001, I met Bret a few times at PaceSetters running club meetings and found him to be an engaging and energetic person. Tragically, Bret died in an automobile accident on Thursday morning, April 3, 2003, during a freezing rain storm. I heard the news of the accident while listening to a sports radio program at work, but the station wouldn't identify the accident victim. I later found out it was Bret while watching the news on one of the Green Bay television stations. Whenever I attend the Bret Younger Run, I have flashbacks to that sad day nine years ago.
Bret also served as a director of the YMCA of the Fox Cities , so a year after his passing the YMCA decided to dedicate a 10K run in his memory. I ran in the first Bret Younger Run, held on a very humid Saturday night. I decided to “double dip” that day by running a 5 mile event in Ripon in the morning and Bret's run that night. If the evening was cooler, I would have finished strong but instead ran a very slow last two miles for a finish of just under an hour. I learned my lesson the hard way and never again would I run two competitive events on the same day.
In past years, the Bret Younger Run was strictly a 10K but in recent years a 5K was added. This year's edition was held at Appleton North High School with the finish line on the high school track. The goody bag included a Clif MoJo bar along with some coupons and vouchers, and as I'm writing this blog I'm wearing this year's T-shirt (white background with blue and green lettering). The 10K started at 8:00 a.m.; the 5K started ten minutes later. The course was very flat but had many turns; the 10K and 5K courses separated after mile 1 and merged together just before mile 5. The YMCA did a good job by having cones after the courses merged to separate the 10K runners from the 5K runners. The finish line spread was located at both the football concession booth and tents pitched directly underneath the bleachers. Approximately 300 runners and walkers participated in both events named after an outstanding race director and community leader.
The main reason I've never participated in the Paperfest Run is it's usually held the same weekend as the Festival Ironwood Walk, Run, and Roll. Since I had to spend the weekend in Oshkosh for a medical procedure, my running schedule was finally freed up to do the Paperfest (although I gave Festival Ironwood Race Director Chris Bergquist a courtesy phone call explaining the situation). Compared to other events I attended, the Paperfest is very unique in several ways. First, the Paperfest is one of the few runs that is run on a Friday night (Duluth's Park Point 5 Miler was another one that I had run). Secondly, Sunset Park, which hosts Paperfest, is very spread out. Event parking is located on the bottom of a hill, the start line is near the middle of the hill, and the finish line/registration area is at the top of the hill. Also, the course has two loops; I can't ever remember running a course that has two loops. Finally, Paperfest has more spectators (and very vocal as well) than most shorter distance events I've attended.
Although Sunset Park is hilly, the course itself is not that hilly due to the start line location. After the start, the runners go in the opposite direction of the loop towards the finish line and then proceed downhill to start the first of the two loops. Similar to the Bret Younger Run, lines of cones separated the faster runners from the back-markers like yours truly. As I mentioned in the last paragraph, the course is lined with many spectators. Most were partying in their yards, and I could smell the good food from several grills. Yes, I was even tempted to stop running and crash one of the parties to have a brat or burger! Although I was happy with my effort, I couldn't get much leg turnover so my finish was just over 43 minutes. However, I wasn't disappointed at all because I enjoyed the atmosphere so much. After the run, I stayed for some food and live music. Kudos should go to the organizers and volunteers of the Paperfest Run, and I look forward to coming back in the future.
Finally, I want to wish those running in tomorrow's Voyageur Ultra-Marathon good luck. My next blog will be in the last weekend of August. Take care and good running!