I had previously ran two half marathons (the Madison Mini) in Madison and I loved running there. So I was happy to pick this race as my spring goal half marathon. The race was renamed to Run Madtown to differentiate it from the fall half marathon race. So while it was the inaugural running of the Run Madtown races, the race itself existed for many years.
The races are run on Memorial Day weekend, with the half marathon on Sunday and a .6 mile Kid’s Race and Twilight 5K and 10K on Saturday evening. Packet pickup was Friday and Saturday at the Monona Terrace Convention Center about a block from the state capitol building. Packet pickup was quick and there was a small expo. My daughter ran the Kid’s Race, it was a nice run around Capitol Square. All the races begin and end in front of the capitol building. The building itself is beautiful and we took advantage of the location to tour the building.
I awoke Sunday morning to thunder and heavy rain. I walked to the start line in a downpour, but it tapered off as race time neared. There was plenty of shelter to be found in the buildings around the capitol. Gear check was available close to the start/finish line and I took advantage of it to stow a rain jacket. The race temps were comfortable, with the temps in the high 50’s to start.
The race takes runners on a tour around the UW Madison campus, the Arboretum, and residential and downtown Madison. The course is mainly on partly closed streets and a small portion is on a paved bike path. The course passes many of the sights in Madison such as Camp Randall, the zoo, and the Kohl Center, and there are also lake and prairie views. The course is mostly rolling hills for the first 9 miles. There is a hill at about mile 11 that is timed for a King/Queen of the hill challenge with cash prizes.
The water stops are plentiful and the volunteers are very enthusiastic. There are a fair number of spectators on the course to cheer on runners. There were 5 mile and 10 mile split timers, but they were not mats. For some reason they did not capture my splits, and I noticed that many runners were missing one of the splits. Timing mats were used on the hill and there were no issues there. That was my only complaint about the race.
Race photos were complimentary and there were many photographers on the course. Runners could also be tracked using the Racejoy app. I did not use this option since it was raining when the race started and I did not want to get my phone out. Race swag also included a short sleeve tech tee and finisher medal. A full Panera bag lunch awaited runners at the finish, with a full sandwich, chips, and a cookie. Fruit and beverages (water, milk, and chocolate milk) were provided as well as one complimentary beer.
There were about 1600 runners in the half. The start feels a little crowded but it thins out fairly rapidly and I didn’t have any problems passing runners on the course. The course is very similar to the Madison Mini in August, though it’s run in reverse and starts/ends at the capitol instead of the UW campus. I would say the weather is more likely to be ideal for running for this race than the August race, which is almost guaranteed to be hot and humid. But you never know, at one time they also had a marathon during this race weekend but it was moved to November due to some years with unseasonably hot weather.
Overall, this is a well organized race in a fun location to spend a long weekend and kick off the running season in Wisconsin.