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Madison Marathon: Make a Run for It at This Madison Annual

As one of the few cities located on an isthmus in North America, Madison is a one-of-a-kind destination featuring community events, cultural attractions, and the University of Wisconsin. Visitors will be enamored with its small-town charm and attractions like the Wisconsin State Capitol and Chazen Museum of Art. Those looking for outdoor activities are in luck, the city has more than 200 miles of hiking and biking trails, and Badger Football games are a sight to behold.


The Madison Marathon is the premier fall athletic event in Wisconsin, and it will take place November 12 in downtown Madison. This years event will feature two races: the Madison Marathon (qualifier for the Boston Marathon) and Madison Half Marathon. Both race courses give participants great views of the beautiful downtown area, Lake Mendota, and Lake Monona. Free runner tracking will be available from RaceJoy which is a phone app that provides real-time monitoring, goals, progress, and encouragement. At the finish line runners will be awarded a Finisher Medal and they can also take photos, drink water, eat food, and more. The post-race festivities kick off with the Michelob Ultra Post Race Party that includes the results of the races, Michelob Ultra Beer, race merchandise, live music, and the opportunity to exchange t-shirts with other competitors. We interviewed Director of Operation for Madison Festivals Inc., Erin Schleicher to learn more about this unique athletic event.


RAL: How long has the event been running?

ES: The original Madison Marathon took place from 1974 to 1983, organized locally by runners. The course went twice around Lake Monona to Olin Park. The Madison Marathon as we know it today started in 1994 as the Mad City Marathon by the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau. Madison Festivals has owned and managed the race since 2001. It was known as the Mad City Marathon from 2001 - 2006, reverting to the name Madison Marathon in 2007 and branching off into two event weekends (Run Madtown in May and Madison Marathon in November) in 2013.


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?

ES: We expect approximately 4,000 attendees.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?

ES: The crowd is primarily adults ranging in age from 18-39.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event.

ES: Here is a breakdown:

  • Free digital race photos compliments of Madison Marathon

  • FREE runner tracking via RaceJoy

  • One complimentary Michelob Ultra beer at the Post-Race Party (for those 21+)

  • Long-sleeved technical shirt (gender-specific)

  • Awesome finisher medal

  • Pace groups for all speeds

  • Panera Catering finisher sack lunch

  • Start & Finish on beautiful Capitol Square

  • Boston Qualifier

  • NEW IN 2017: Prize Purse

  • 1st-3rd place overall winners (male/female)


RAL: Tell us about the overall atmosphere?

ES: It’s an outdoor event that takes place in Capitol Square and all through the City of Madison


RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up for the event?

ES: Yes, for a full list of accommodations, follow the link.  


RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?

ES: Yes - our volunteer platform allows us to “pay” volunteers by donating back to their various local non-profit groups. myTEAM TRIUMPH and Badger Honor Flight are our partner charities, which means we collect donations for them through our registration site.


RAL: Does lodging hit max occupancy during the event?

ES: It may if there is also a UW Badger Football game at home (this year vs. Iowa!).


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

ES: Madison Marathon is a great way to experience all the beauty Madison has to offer – by foot! You can’t beat a Start/Finish on Capitol Square. Our race is great for all types of runners – from beginners to seasoned professionals.

For more information about the Madison Marathon, please visit the event website.