Splash: As the finish line approaches, organizers remember 13dot1

GETTING A HEAD start on the first-ever Green Lake half-marathon (13dot1) in 2010 are committee members, from left, Sandie Quade, Kristin Galatowitsch, Wendy Schultz, Ellen Koeppen and Dr. Tom Kloosterboer. Jonathan Bailey photo

by Hannah Tetzlaff

After nine years of running the race, it was time to pass the torch.

Part of the organizing committee, Wendy and Tom Schultz, Kristin and Dennis Galatowitsch, Ellen Koeppen and Sandie Quade decided to step down from managing the annual 13dot1race.

The group searched for new individuals and organizations to take over the half marathon; however, there were no takers, until one day when Wendy happened upon Green Lake resident Ali Rossberg in Princeton. Rossberg decided to take on the challenge this year to organize the run.

However, she is not alone as the e13dot1 organizers came alongside her to lend their expertise.

As 13dot1 (now renamed the “Green Lake Half Marathon”) approaches, some of the founders of the race, along with those who stayed throughout the years to help keep it running, take some time to remember their favorite memories and hardest challenges over the years.

What will you miss?

Wendy: I will miss our committee colleagues most of all. For nine years, we met monthly and even more frequently through the summer as we got closer to the race. We all got to be very good friends.

What will I miss regarding the things I was responsible for on the committee? I will miss the interaction with some of our runners.

I handled all the correspondence, the phone calls, the email, the Facebook and website. People would call up, asking about parking, about places to go afterward. Sometimes they had last-minute problems and couldn’t come to the race. We have a strict no-refund policy, but on a couple of occasions I stretched the rules and credited them so they could come the following year.

Like the gal who found out she had breast cancer and had to start on chemo. She came the next year to complete the half marathon and I took a photo of her with her chemo port clearly visible near her collarbone. She was quite a trooper.

Or the couple from Maine who wanted to run a half marathon in every state of the union — they picked our race for Wisconsin.  Nice memories. No regrets.

Tom: On race day, my main responsibility was being the official race photographer for the half marathon, which I did from my bicycle.

During the race I biked around to various locations along the route, and snapped lots of photos of the runners. It was always enjoyable to be able to see what was happening along the race route — which included seeing not only the race participants, but also all of the great volunteers that were scattered along the course, or manning one of several water stations.

Dennis: Getting together monthly. We would once a month have a meeting and those meetings were 50% social and 50% focused on the event, so I’ll miss those regularly scheduled social interactions.

SMILING AS THEY meet to discuss the 13dot1 event are, from left, Dennis and Kristin Galatowitsch; Wendy and Tom Schultz; Ellen Koeppen; and Sandie Quade. submitted photo

What is your favorite memory?

Wendy: My favorite memory comes from the very first year. Although we did an excellent job preparing for the race and had a good number of runners who already signed up, we were simply astonished by the stream of people who lined up the day before and morning of the race, wanting to participate — and we nearly doubled our registrations.

It was phenomenal watching this huge group of runners take off from the starting line, heading up the hill in a seemingly endless sea of color and movement.

The music was loud and fun, I was jumping up and down, screaming my head off cheering them on and so completely happy and relieved.

Tom noted he loved various aspects of the race such as witnessing the runners chug along the route and the volunteers helping out.

Dennis: The weather was always spectacular. We never had a bad weather day. Who doesn’t like a pleasant day? Despite all the opportunities for things to go wrong, nothing ever did. It was always a beautiful, sunny day, and the race always went of smoothly.

Funniest memory?

Tom: The runners who have participated in the half marathon over the years know that there is one particular corner in the Green Lake Conference Center that has been manned by Santa Claus.

Santa (Jerry Specht) was out there every year, decked out in his full Christmas splendor — although I recall at least one warm year when he wore shorts on the bottom half of his bright red outfit. He always had fun comments for the runners, such as “You’d better be good, Santa is watching!” or “See you in December!”

Santa would always offer high-fives to the runners, while giving his special words of encouragement — and he was always met with lots of big smiles.

Wendy: Without naming names, one of our committee members who had the city hall key in her possession, had overslept her alarm on race day morning (our very first year).

A group of us had gathered at the front door waiting for her to arrive so we could get in and be prepared for the crowd.

Well, needless to say, I think someone had to drive to her house and bang on her door before she woke up. We did have a good laugh about it year after year.

Dennis: I don’t have one. We were always laughing. I can’t think of any particular funny story. We just always had a good time. Nothing stands out.

What was it like organizing the race?

Wendy: Organizing a big event is hard work and can be very consuming, but we had a great committee who made the work fun.  Each one of us had an area of responsibility and were very devoted to making sure the race was safe, enjoyable and memorable. The majority of our runners return year after year because they love the race, which is quite satisfying.

Tom: I have really enjoyed working with the other members of our race committee to plan this annual event — truly a bunch of fun and talented individuals. Each of us had our own areas of responsibility, and we worked well together.

Dennis: I want to say surprisingly easy because people like Wendy Schultz and Ellen [Koeppen] were just real professionals. [Along with] Kristin, my wife, [they] really carried so much water for the group [and] were just really on the ball … We started every year right away and so it was surprisingly easy because it was always done in little bites … Wendy, Ellen and Sandie Quade, really those three just did a great job at the front end and back end [of the race and] managing the volunteers … My job was relatively modest, which was helping with the T-shirts and the same-day registration and prior-night packet pickup.

What was the most challenging part of organizing the race?

Wendy: Finding enough volunteers. Let’s face it, people can be reluctant to commit — often until the very last days before the race, making it very nerve-racking.

Our volunteer coordinator Sandie Quade did a superior job of recruiting the bulk of our volunteers and treated them very generously so they would come back year after year.

Chris Robinson, who was part of our team for several years, also did a great job organizing the water station volunteers. We could not have pulled this off without these wonderful volunteers — and our runners often let us know how much they appreciated them, too.

Tom: My responsibility at the beginning was mapping out the race courses, which involved figuring out the distances, to make sure the course lengths for the two races were accurate.

A half marathon is 13.1 miles (hence our name “13dot1”), and a 5K is 3.1 miles, and it was quite a challenge to come up with routes would come out right, measurement-wise.

We knew that we wanted the race to be as scenic as possible, so we routed it along the lake, and through the grounds of the Green Lake Conference Center.  Of course, there are lots of roads in the race area to consider, so I spent a lot of time with maps and my GPS  mostly — through experimenting, and trial and error — trying to come up with race routes that worked out.

I worked mainly with Google Earth, which enabled me to measure various road segments as I slowly pieced the route together. Once I had a course plan figured out, it was a matter of accurately measuring the distances on the ground — using my trusty Garmin GPS while riding the route on my bike. Many hours were spent in these planning stages.

Dennis: My answer would be just the the worry that registrations might fall off and/or that the weather would be not cooperative. So that was always a worry; a worry more than a challenge, as I guess I would put it, because of my prior answer. I say it really just was surprisingly, well run because of the little bites; we just really didn’t have any super challenges that that I would identify.

How was the transition to the new race organizers?

Wendy: Well, it’s certainly been a more relaxing summer. Nevertheless, we are giving the new coordinators a little “sideline” help to ensure a smooth and successful first year at the helm.  Besides, I feel like a mother hen.

Tom: We have been working closely with Ali and Matt (Gordillo) [the new race organizers] to assist them during this transition year.  We had learned a great deal during the nine years we had coordinated the race, so we tried to be as helpful as we could.

Dennis: I would say uncomplicated. The new committee has operated very independently and has added some exciting new things like the 10k and and they’re owning the race, with how they’re doing their start/finish and other changes that are going to help the race be viable into the future.

What are your future plans? Will you race in marathons or half marathons?

Tom: I probably will be working on other projects — primarily bird-related, such as running the Green Lake Bird and Nature Club, of which I am president.

Wendy: I am running in the Green Lake Half Marathon race this year and hoping I can talk committee colleagues Dennis and Kristin Galatowitsch to run a full marathon with me next year when I turn 60. Come on — let’s do it!

Dennis: I will still run in half marathons. In fact, now that we’re not running it [the 13dot1], we actually have an opportunity to run within it. I’m [also] involved in the Princeton Bike Club, where we are trying to improve bicycling infrastructure in the city of Princeton, and we have weekly Wednesday evening rides at 5:30pm. People should come join us. But other than that … Kristin and I own Twister, and we started a new Airstream rental through Airbnb, so we’re focusing on our businesses, which is the law office, our Airbnb rental and Twister.

Hannah Tetzlaff can be reached by emailing hannahtetz@riponprinters.com or by calling the Ripon Commonwealth Press office at 748-3017.