Running 4 veterans

U.S. NAVY VETERAN and Green Lake 4 on the 4th Race Director Jeff Blair shows his support for the country as he runs. Joe Schulz photo

by Joe Schulz

Looking to kick off the Fourth of July by supporting local veterans?

The first Green Lake 4 on the 4th Race offers a 4-mile run/walk on the Fourth of July, with proceeds being split between the American Legion in Green Lake and Princeton’s Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post.

The event costs $20 and starts at 8:30 a.m. at Reilly’s Pub in Markesan, and runs until 11 a.m.

The 8:30 a.m. start time was chosen to avoid extreme heat and to allow participants to enjoy the rest of the Fourth of July festivities in the area afterward.

The course begins and ends at Reilly’s Pub, following County Road K along the lakeshore for about 2 miles before looping around at Oakwood Beach Road and back down County Road K to Reilly’s.

The event also features a 2-mile walk for those who can’t run but still want to participate.

Reilly’s Pub is sponsoring the race and will offer free refreshments at the finish line. Drinks will include soda, water or a few beer options.

ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO come out for the Green Lake 4 on the 4th race are, from left, race director Jeff Blair; Reilly’s Pub waitresses Claire Haefele, Megan Zimmerman, Mady Stellmacher; and Reilly’s Pub owner Randy Sondalle. Joe Schulz photo

After the run, participants are free to stay at Reilly’s for a small party after the race, in the lot across the street from Reilly’s.

“Everything’s going to be down there, right down by the lake,” Reilly’s Pub Owner Randy Sondalle said. “We have a bar down there, and tables and chairs.”

The idea to organize the event to benefit veterans came from Jeff Blair, who is a U.S. Navy veteran of his own right.

Blair served in the US Navy from 1980 to 1984 on the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, repairing navigation equipment on airplanes. He has five family members who also have served in the U.S. Navy.

“Aside from that, I have family members that are still heavily involved with the VFW and Auxiliary VFW, which is why we wanted to benefit veterans,” Blair said.

The idea for the event originated when he began coming to Green Lake about 10 years ago. Blair is an avid runner, who’s been running for about 20 years, and had taken part in many Fourth of July races before coming to the area.

After coming to Green Lake, he said, “I really missed it.”

Blair looked for Independence Day runs in the area with no luck. So this year, he decided to organize one.

“This will be the first of what we hope will be an annual race,” Blair said.

For Sondalle, the decision to sponsor the first Green Lake area Fourth of July race was a no-brainer.

“Jeff’s a good customer here; he comes in all the time,” Sondalle said. “We think it’s good for the area.”

Sondalle believes it’s important that communities support local veterans.

“I just think that we wouldn’t have anything in this country if it wasn’t for veterans,” he said.

Blair added everyone is welcome to the race and volunteers are appreciated.

“I think anytime you can start off a day, especially a holiday, with an energizing run in a scenic place like Green Lake it’s a great reason to participate,” Blair said. “This one has the added benefit of benefiting veterans.”

Anyone interested in participating in the event can sign up at