Is there anything better than running a marathon in your (new) hometown? No, not if it’s Cellcom.
This is the third year in a row that I’ve done Cellcom since moving up here and the race keeps getting better. The temperatures in mid May in Northeast Wisconsin are perfect for the marathon. The temp at the start is usually around forty degrees and maybe gets up to the mid fifties at the end. The course is run on mostly flat tree lined neighborhood streets to give the runners plenty of shade. There’s just enogh inclines to stretch your muslces. Crowd support is great, the neighbors really come out to support us.
Another huge reason is race director Sean Ryan. He puts on a big time event and his coordination skills are phenominal. The expo is just the right size, with vendors, other races, community groups and running stores like Run Away and Eastbay for last minute needs.
Race week feels like a big party. There’s a ton of energy in town and it’s hard to control yourself. The Green Bay Running Club has a booth at the expo and the chance to talk with runners from around the country is an incredible bonus. No matter where they come from, you can’t find a nasty person in the bunch. You also get to see your buddies that you always train with, but they’ve got more clothes on and no ones sweating or covered with frost.
This year I added something new, pacing, and I can whole heartedly recommend it. You get to meet new people, help them attain their goal and get some extra shirts! Of course the people part is the best part. I paced the 3:45 group with Heidi Gooding and Teresa Moore. This is a great group because so many people in this bunch are trying to qualify for Boston, and we get a chance to take them there. This is another thing that Cellcom got right, Sean allows more than one pacer per group so if one of the pacers has a bad race, the whole pace team doesn’t blow up.
Race day dawned sunny and cool, perfect race weather and it seemed like we had only a few people in our pace group. After the pace team pictures we moved into the atrium to find our pace group. Heidi was holding the sign and as we stretched more and more runners came over to us. Our pace group included quite a few runners gunning for a BQ and also a guy from my high school in Indiana, Bishop Noll, too cool. I can’t remember how many we had in the group, bnut it had to be atleast 20.
We had a good plan going into the race. We would keep the team at 8:35 per mile for at least the first half then Heidi would take the first group out, the Teresa the middle group and I would take the last group. We executed the plan perfectly and had 4 runners qualify for Boston. I was lucky to get the last runner in to qualify for Boston. I met Jo Ann just as we entered Lambeau and told her she could still qualify for Boston if she wanted. That’s all she needed to hear so we took off, and she made it.
Last great things about Cellcom? Brats & beer afterwards and the chance to hang around and talk about the race with your buddies. Most everyone had a great race and Scott Pearson qualified for Boston with an incredible 3:17.
Can’t wait until next year. Even though I still have more Wisconsin marathons to do, I’ll always do Cellcom, I can’t resist it.
By the way, there are now 25 marathons in Wisconsin, Birkebinder just added a trail marathon. This year’s event will be on September 25th.