A pair of collegiate runners, Claire Brown and Nate Routhier, put their recent track training to good use and claimed victories in the Summerfest Rock ‘n’ Sole Half Marathon, one of the three races that drew roughly 7,000 runners Saturday morning.
Routhier, 21, became the first Rock ‘n’ Sole competitor with two titles, recapturing the prize he earned in 2012. On a course revised due to construction on the Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge, the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse athlete finished in 1:10:53, nearly three minutes ahead of Jarrod Schwichtenberg, 25, from West Allis. Full results can be found here.
Brown, 22, concentrated on the steeplechase during her track season for Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, and said she wanted to “get a half marathon in while I was in good shape.” She managed the 13.1-mile distance quite nicely, in her first test, and finished in 1:23:14, about one minute in front of Laura Burnham, of Virocqua. Her sister, Kayla Brown, finished first in the quarter marathon (6.55 miles).
“I felt good through the first eight or nine miles, then it got rough,” Brown said at the finish. “At the beginning all those hills were a little rough, and then there was the never-ending bridge.”
In previous years, the Rock ‘n’ Sole half marathon course sent runners south over the iconic bridge right at the start. This year, the course stretched south along S. 1st St., and gave the participants a look at the Walker’s Point and Bay View neighborhoods before turning back toward the finish on the festival grounds.
Routhier said he enjoyed the return over the Hoan, heading north toward downtown Milwaukee.
“I liked the sky line,” he said.
Don Smiley, president and CEO of Milwaukee World Festivals Inc., said the turnout on Saturday was the biggest to date for the Rock ‘n’ Sole, which included a quarter marathon (6.55 miles) and a 5K. He put the number of registrants at roughly 9,000. Race results posted Saturday showed about 6,900 finishers.
Looking to the future, Smiley projected the event could draw 12,000 to 14,000 participants and help support organizations like the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee, the charity that will receive a portion of the proceeds from the registration fees.
Smiley answered with a certain “No” when asked if Milwaukee World Festivals was considering expanding the Rock ‘n’ Sole to include a full marathon, and said that the objections raised about a proposal for a “big city” marathon next April were based only on timing. Summerfest representatives opposed the proposal presented by race organizer Chris Ponteri to the Milwaukee Common Council Public Works Committe last week. The creator of the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon is seeking approval for a marathon, half marathon and 5K to be run in the city on April 26, 2015.
“If it’s just a marathon, we’re fine,” Smiley said. “But why have a half marathon and a 5K four or five weeks away from the Rock ‘n’ Sole. “People don’t have the disposable income to pay for races every four weeks.”
Smiley said Summerfest would help promote a new marathon in Milwaukee, if it was scheduled in the fall.