On your mark…Get set…

GETTING IN THE spirit for the Green Lake Area 13dot1 Half Marathon & 5k, which takes place the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, are, from left, Kinzie Quade, Kristin and Dennis Galatowitsch, Tom and Wendy Schultz and Sandie Quade. Ariana Hones photo

by Ariana Hones

A decade ago, Tom Kloosterboer, a then-Berlin-based anesthesiologist, posed a question to an unknowing Wendy Schultz that would determine her plans for the next 10 Labor Day weekends:

“What do you think about doing a half marathon in Green Lake?”

Now entering the ninth year of the Green Lake Area “13dot1” Half Marathon & 5k, Schultz is happy she said she would help.

“Tom knew I was a runner and, at the time, Ellen Koeppen was the director of the Green Lake[Area] Chamber of Commerce and said she would also be happy to be on the planning committee,” Schultz said. “We accumulated a nice solid group of people and planned the inaugural half marathon for Labor Day weekend since people come here to shut down their cabin or have the last hurrah of summer.”

The first year, more than 350 people ran. The next year is was past 400+.

The Green Lake Area Half Marathon hit its peak with more than 600 runners a few years in and now hangs around 450 to 500 runners.

Why Green Lake?

“At the time I was a brand new board member for Downtown Renewal, now Green Lake Renewal, and that very first year we were trying to encourage business in downtown,” Schultz said.

“We wanted people to come out, so we encouraged businesses to open early on race day and get people to Green Lake.”

As the half marathon has prospered over the past decade, so has Green Lake’s downtown and the community’s efforts to increase collaboration.

This year, the half marathon will be the morning after the second-annual Community Street Bash.

Race weekend also will boast an American Legion-sponsored pancake breakfast Sunday morning from 7 to 11 a.m., as well as post-race showers provided by the Green Lake Area School District from 9 a.m. to noon.

Santa Claus also will make an appearance.

“Jerry Specht dons a Santa suit and stands in the Green Lake Conference Center to cheer people on,” Schultz said.

He won’t be the only one.

“People are lined up all over. The route goes along the lake and it is so beautiful,” Schultz said.

She describes the race experience as a look into the beauty of small town America.

“It is a holiday weekend and when people finish they get to relax by the lake,” Schultz said.

For those on the fence, Schultz encourages people to feel no shame in walking some of it.

“The saying is that if you can do half of it, you can do all of it. And if I can do it, anyone can,” Schultz said, smiling. “If you are not sure, but kind of want to, just walk it. It is a beautiful walk and then [people] can get their exercise in and can come back to the park for a complimentary beer.”

The Green Lake half marathon weekend also includes a 5k and a free kid’s street dash.

For Schultz, the weekend is a testament to a community wanting to be its best self.

“We have whole families run the 5k,” she said. “We also had a runner from Idaho who was trying to do a half marathon in each state and he chose ours.”

Her favorite memory?

“A woman signed up for the race, but then was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Schultz said. “The next year she came back and she still had her port in, but she ran that half marathon and it was the coolest thing. You should race to get stronger. You can do it and feel really proud.”

This year’s event will take place Sept. 2, with the half marathon starting at 8:15 a.m. and the 5k beginning at 8:30.

With the promise of a lakeside view and cool drink to finish this scenic event, participation in this day is sure make the labor worth it.