Amid some of the fastest runners in the area, and a group of pro cyclists hot-lapping on the streets, Jen Gilmore and Alex Rogers gave us the Oh-My! performance of the inaugural Schlitz Park Miler.
Reminiscent of the compelling Hoyts, Gilmore pushed Rogers to his personal record in the mile, on a hilly course that challenged her and delighted him. They brought the crowd to tears.
“I started training for some triathlons last summer and he would yell when I was leaving to go,” explained Gilmore, a psychology student at Marquette University and Alex’s caregiver in Pewaukee. “He’s non-verbal, but his dad and I discovered that he wanted to join me.
“It’s all about being included and doing what everybody else does.”
Alex, 11, has cerebral palsy, which severely limits his physical ability but not his determination or spirit. To make their racing partnership, Gilmore worked with Alex’s father to craft a tag-along for the bike, with a wheelchair back rest, and a stroller that secures him comfortably.
They run. They bike. They bond.
“His laughs and smile and his excitement…when he tells everyone what he did, that’s my reward,” Gilmore said.
When they took the start line on Vine St., Gilmore and Alex made everyone else race for second place. The crowd along Pleasant St. encouraged them with the loudest cheers of the night.
Scott Mueller, 26, ran a 4:29 to post the fastest time of the roughly 100 participants, and Holly Nearman, 26, led the women’s group in 5:12.
As a companion to the Tour of America’s Dairyland Schlitz Park Criterium, the race was created to highlight the emphasis on wellness in the renovated office park north of Downtown. Runners enjoyed a new and unique race, and the chance to enjoy a true example of the wondrous moments their sport can produce.
Check out more photos from the Miler at Running in the USA.