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Madison's Late Summer Half Marathon Shows Support For All Runners and The University's Healthy Women, Healthy Babies Fund

By Kelly Church

The Madison Mini-Marathon is a Madison, WI annual event that gathers runners for a half marathon and 5K through the University of Wisconsin campus. Founded in 2008 to celebrate Madison's active community with the city's first late summer/early fall marathon. Lisa Hancock, a representative for the marathon, said the race is successful after having support from both competitive marathon runners and recreational runners. Over the years, both groups have grown, and the event has grown too.

The half-marathon course goes through many of the city's biggest landmarks, including Capitol Square, Dane County Farmers' Market, State Street, Camp Randall Stadium and the arboretum, giving runners a glimpse of wild turkeys mid-race. The 5K race takes runners through the university campus and along Lakeshore Path.

There's a post-race party held at the Terrace of Memorial Union, looking over Lake Mendota. Hancock said that it's a great opportunity for racers to have a photo-op with the Big Chair. The social event pairs food, drinks and music for a celebration that fits with true Wisconsin tradition.

"Participants can get instant race results, and share stories of the day with other athletes," Hancock said. "Madison's very own Wheelhouse has historically entertained participants and their families with their band's soulful, country sounds. Food and beverage vendors will be open for business, and all participants 21 or older receive one free beer courtesy of Wisconsin Brewing Company. Food, beer and music [is] a classic Wisconsin tradition of winding down from an incredible day on the Madison Mini-Marathon course."

The event takes special care of repeat runners, encouraging athletes to keep coming back year after year. The M2 Challenge celebrates runners who complete 26.2 miles between two races: the Madison Mini-Marathon and the Summerfest Rock 'n Sole Marathon. The M2 Challenge is limited to 750 participants, however, those runners are given an extra bib to wear during their race and receive a special medal at the post-race celebration.

The Fleet Feet Founders Club is another honorary title for a group of 100 runners that have participated in every Madison Mini-Marathon since it was founded in 2008. Each year that they continue to participate in the half marathon, they are given a special premium gift item, exclusive for this group.

"Inspired by the collective dedication of these athletes, Fleet Feet Madison and Sun Prairie stores decided in 2016 to award these members with a custom medal rack on which they could hang their Madison Mini-Marathon medals earned over the years," Hancock said.

Part of the proceeds from the Madison Mini-Marathon goes to the University of Wisconsin's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Healthy Women, Healthy Babies Fund. The organization has been a charitable partner of the race since the beginning, and Hancock said the event organizers think it's important to give back to the community. Madison Mini-Marathon has donated more than $100,000 to the Healthy Women, Healthy Babies Fund since 2008.

"This partnership seemed a natural fit to us as the department's mission is to improve the quality of life for women and children in the Madison community, as well as throughout the state of Wisconsin," Hancock said.

This year, the Madison Mini-Marathon, 5K and a kids' run will be held on August 19. Runners can sign up by visiting madisonminimarathon.com. The race begins at 7 a.m. CST and registration fees increase as the race nears.

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