Jeramey Jannene

Milwaukee Marathon Could Return, Sort Of

New course, no full marathon race and opposition from at least one council member.

By - Jan 25th, 2023 04:48 pm
2023 Milwaukee Marathon course. Image submitted to the City of Milwaukee.

2023 Milwaukee Marathon course. Image submitted to the City of Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee Marathon is poised to return after three years of cancelations. Except there won’t actually be a marathon-length race.

It’s just the latest curiosity for a race that has struggled to find its footing since first being held in 2015.

Runners in 2023 will have the option of 5K (3.1 miles) or half marathon (13.1 miles) lengths. The course starts at Fiserv Forum, snakes through Downtown and follows the lakefront north to the East Side before doubling back. Several miles are set to take place on the Oak Leaf Trail.

Participants won’t have long to train. The race is to take place March 26.

“We just want to celebrate the City of Milwaukee and believe they deserve a race of this caliber,” said Ventures Endurance organizer Chip Hazeski to the Public Works Committee on Wednesday morning.

He told the committee that two months is the “sweet spot” for getting runners to sign up for races of the proposed lengths. But the full council won’t review Ventures’ permit request until its Feb. 7 meeting and at least one member is opposed to the race returning.

“It’s all to serve this out-of-state, for-profit corporation. As far as I am concerned they can stay away,” said Alderman Robert Bauman.

Hazeski said the goal is to get a race going again. He said the company isn’t likely to make money for three-to-five years.

Bauman referenced the past organizers, two local groups before Venture’s 2019 acquisition, and their struggles to establish the correct decision. Technical issues led to one of the marathons being too short and another too long.

“I don’t think it’s completely fair to blame you for the sins of someone else,” said area Alderman Jonathan Brostoff, who supports bringing the race to the city. Much of the course now goes through his aldermanic district, in part to avoid Bauman’s downtown-centric district.

Bauman’s concerns about the race also include the impact to The Hop streetcar system, which would see its route cut in half for several hours.

The alderman also brought up the much smaller Lakefront Marathon, organized by the nonprofit Badgerland Striders organization. The race ends in Milwaukee but otherwise runs through north shore suburbs. It didn’t take place in 2022 because of issues with relocating the race to Milwaukee due to suburban road construction. The race is historically capped at approximately 2,000 runners.

Hazeski said only 3,000 people are expected to participate in the “Milwaukee Marathon” this year, but the 2019 race drew 10,000 people with approximately 4,000 coming from outside of the region.

“The City of Milwaukee doesn’t get one nickel of that revenue,” said Bauman, noting the city’s lack of a sales or hotel tax. “Everybody makes money here but the City of Milwaukee.”

“Are you amenable to a $50,000 impact fee if we amend the file today?” asked Bauman.

“That’s above my pay grade,” said Hazeski.

Assistant city attorney Tom Miller also said he wasn’t sure of the legality of such a measure. The event permit ordinance currently only calls for recouping the costs of police and public works costs, which has in the past reached tens of thousands of dollars.

The committee held off adding the impact fee. It then voted to recommend the council approve the permit, with only Bauman voting in objection.

Brostoff requested that Ventures Endurance co-host a neighborhood meeting with him to discuss road closure and mitigation impacts.

The company, at the time of publication, was not marketing the race on its website.

Ventures Endurance is owned by Gannett, the parent company of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The April 2020 race was canceled due to the pandemic and a 2021 race didn’t occur in part because of issues closing a stretch of the Milwaukee County-controlled Lincoln Memorial Drive and the uncertain availability of the Milwaukee Police Department given the Milwaukee Brewers‘ potential playoff run. A 2022 race never publicly advanced. The 2023 race does not yet have the approval of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors to close Lincoln Memorial Drive.

Should the event again fail to happen, there are two half marathons in the following month.

The Striders will host their longstanding South Shore Half Marathon on April 1. It takes place entirely on the Oak Leaf Trail.

The for-profit All Community Events is hosting the Brew City Run, which includes a full marathon option, on April 22. The race takes place entirely on the Oak Leaf Trail and county parks located along the Milwaukee River.

Categories: Sports, Weekly

3 thoughts on “Milwaukee Marathon Could Return, Sort Of”

  1. Polaris says:

    How cooky can this possibly get? From crazy mis-measurements in the past, to Bauman verbalizing whatever crazy firecracker goes off in his head, to Endurance Ventures being owned by Milwaukee’s other evil syndicate, Gannett.


  2. Colin says:

    Impact fee?? Seriously??
    So for all those people running, the city will not see a single DIME in extra sales tax generated by food/drinks purchased by those either attending or visiting/viewing the event… nor any fees/tax earned by hotel stays for out of town runners/guests.

  3. RetiredResident says:

    “…The Hop…would see its route cut in half for several hours.” Haha. Hahahaaaa. Hahahahahahaaaaaa.

    “…Bauman verbalizing whatever crazy firecracker goes off in his head…” is THE best take I’ve ever read about that goof.

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