“Touch the Tundra” is the motto of the Green Bay Marathon. Crossing Lambeau Field sounds like a cool way to end a marathon, but that’s not exactly how things go. More on that later.
Yesterday’s Green Bay Marathon started outside Lambeau Field on Lombardi Drive (near Holmgren Way – seriously). It wound through neighborhoods to the North and West of the stadium for the first 13 miles, then broke south for DePere where it crosses the Fox River. From DePere, the course follows a paved rail to trail downstream along the Fox River for around 5 miles before cutting back across the river to wind through some more neighborhoods. The last mile includes a trip down the tunnel and onto Lambeau Field where runners make a clockwise lap around the field then back through the tunnel to the finish line outside Lambeau were fresh brats and beer are served.
As you can imagine, the crowd watching the race is largely green and gold. Since it was in the 50’s and windy, Packer coats were on display wherever locals where cheering.
Compared to Twin Cities, the marathon race is quite a bit smaller. However, they run a 1/2 marathon concurrently on a shared course through 11 miles (Carly did the 1/2) so the first almost 1/2 is comparable in terms of crowds. After that, it thins out quite a bit, which is probably good since there are a few narrow sections such as bridge sidewalks and bike paths.
The biggest bummer is how much of the course is concrete. I figure that at least half of the course was concrete, which really beats up runners in longer distance events like this.
On the plus side, the registration, bib pick-up, race start, feed stations, volunteers, and finish crew were all fantastically organized. Well done.
I started out with the idea that I may have a 3:45 marathon in me based on the fact that I ran a 4:13 at the Marine Corps Marathon this past October on relatively minimal training. This spring, I actually did some running and lost some weight in a fitness challenge. Put those two things together and I figured I wouldn’t blow up and have to walk at 23 like I did in DC. Apparently, training helps.
Here’s how it went based on the times logged by the chip on my shoe (The discrepancy between “gun time” and chip time is the time it takes between when the gun is fired and when I actually cross the start line with a chip on my shoe. Middle of the pack runners like myself focus on the chip time which measures our time on course.):
Surprisingly consistent. I found a pace that felt comfortable and stuck with it.
Lagging 3:40 Pace Group
At around 14, I went through a switchback after crossing the Fox River and realized I was slightly ahead of the 3:40 pace group. It’s pretty common for marathons to have runners who commit to running a certain pace while carrying a sign or balloons in order to help runners reach their goal times. Based on the 8:30’s I was knocking off, I couldn’t figure out why the 3:40 guys were behind me.
They ended up finishing around 100 yards ahead of me, so were nowhere close to hitting 3:40. That explained to me why there was such a small group around them. Had someone, such as a woman under 35, banked on qualifying for Boston based on sticking with those guys, they would have been sorely disappointed by the finish clock. Instead, they must have abandoned those guys.
Carly snapped a few pictures of me after running a personal best (1:34:42) in the 1/2 marathon.
Less than 50 yards to go:
The final stretch. The clock looks like is says 3:13, which would have been nice, but it’s actually 3:43.
I’d like to point out that the heavy walkers in this picture were NOT marathon runners, but either 1/2 marathon or 5K participants who took the same time I did to finish their races.
Touch the Tundra?
Apparently, there is an ongoing debate in Green Bay about whether the Green Bay Marathon – who’s motto is, “Touch the Tundra” – should actually allow runners to “Touch the Tundra.” The answer this year was, “No.” We did get to run in through the tunnel, around the field on what was kind of like a warning track, and back out to finish in Lambeau Field’s parking lot.
I heard two theories on why this is done rather than ending the race in the stadium.
1. Lambeau is very protective of their turf. This could be, but as I understand it, the game of football is also played on it, which is surely much more damaging than a few thousand runners. Don’t they replace the field throughout the season? It seems like something that could be handled.
2. Corporate Sponsorship Conflict. Cellcom is the title sponsor of the marathon, but Verizon is a big sponsor inside Lambeau Field. Perhaps Cellcom doesn’t want memorable marathon photos having Verizon ads in the background?
Either way, the city of Green Bay should figure out a way to solve this since the marathon would be a bigger draw if people could truly “Touch the Tundra.”
I love roadside music during marathons. I heard the typical Chariots of Fire and Rocky Theme Songs, which are cool. And you can usually count on hearing “Celebrate Good Times” blasting from a boom box. And the live stuff is great, including a church choir at around mile 13.
But I think the person who fired me up with the most with his music choice was a 12-ish year old kid at around mile 3 who – at 7:30am – had set up some huge speakers and was throwing down some Kid Rock for the runners and his neighbors. That kid knows how to get into my head in a good way: