Race Recap: Milwaukee Marathon (Pacing the Half)

Disclaimer #1: I received free entry to the Milwaukee Marathon for being a member of the Performance Running Outfitters Pace Team. I paced the 1:50 group for the Half Marathon

Disclaimer #2: I am promoting the Milwaukee Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review and write race reviews!


After a less than stellar 2016, and even worse 2017; the Milwaukee Marathon returned from it’s Gap Year better than it ever had been before.

Like a Phoenix, it emerged reborn (and dramatically improved). Like the porridge for Goldilocks, this one was just right.

You all know the history, especially if you’ve read this blog, about years 2 and 3 of the Marathon (and the failures of owner #2). Some runners (read: Me) were fairly vocal about the 2017 version.

Still, I came into the 2019 version cautiously optimistic. The folks at Rugged Maniac know what they’re doing in other races, so there was no reason to believe they didn’t this time. Besides, you couldn’t mess up again, could you?

My skepticism was raised when the course released the route. Out and backs for days. The issues in the past had been with out and backs…so they added more?

Ok, let’s jump to the race itself.

I was pacing the 1:50 group in the Half with friend, and PRO teammate, Emily. We chatted in the corral with others lining up around us. Among the pre-race topics: the fact that TONS of people were running, the 5k finish, and that we would run a little under the prescribed 8:23 pace to make sure runners would break 1:50 (and in case the course is a touch long).


When I care about pacing (as a pacer or a racer) I hate the first mile, especially in a city race. It’s hard to judge pace without an accurate watch. For example: mine said we logged a 6:15 pace from .75 to the Mile. No.

Because of this, the first couple miles felt like they took a long time as Emily and I tried to settle into our prescribed 8:20 pace. Emily had her watch to autolap, and I took splits at the race’s mile markers.

We were a little hot on pace before coming up to the first (and largest) climb of the race just past the 5k. I figured that would slow us down a bit (it did). I loved that the race climbed us up Water Tower Road instead of up Lincoln Memorial. It’s a longer hill, but a less steep hill. Loved it.

When we passed Mile 5, we had almost perfectly settled into our desired pace. And really, from that point on, the race absolutely flew by. The miles really ticked by quickly.

Mile 9-10 was when we lost most of our pacees. Some of them took the last 5k as an opportunity to get after it and run away from us. Some others made a pit stop at the Aid Station and dropped back a bit (we didn’t slow or stop as any AS).


Once we weaved back into the city, we began picking up runners who were dropping back after a hot start. The end of Mile 10 and start of 11 is quite the grind, as we went up the long gradual climb of Wisconsin Ave.

Coming around to the finish, I was able to wave through a pack of about 5 runners who were gaining/keeping pace with us. They all passed us (yessss) to get in under 1:50 (depending on their chip time).

In total, we scooted through right on 1:49 and zero seconds. According to the official results, we came through at an 8:19 pace (which we sat on from the split at Mile 5) only 1s per mile off the plan. Per. Fect.

All in all, I absolutely loved the course and loved the event. I had great company with Emily, and with our pacees. All of whom put up with my “goofy” stories for the duration of the run.

The Milwaukee Marathon absolutely nailed it; and I can’t wait for the 2020 version.

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