Tag Archives: marathon

Interview: Chris Ponteri, Director of the Milwaukee Running Festival

Chris Ponteri is Executive Director of Milwaukee Marathon, Inc., which is putting together the inaugural Milwaukee Running Festival (October 30-November 1, 2015).

Chris Ponteri

1. It appears that something special is happening in Milwaukee at the end of October. Would you like to briefly tell us about it?

We are putting together the inaugural Milwaukee Running Festival, which is exactly what the name suggests: a festival of running. And since Milwaukee is the “City of Festivals,” we feel it’s a good fit.

MRF

2. Why did you decide to make this a three-day event rather than simply a one-day marathon?

Most major marathons are in fact three-day events since they have an expo the two days leading up to the race. We decided to not only have the expo, but also have some other events like a mile race and a kick-off party. Many of our city’s festivals are not just held on one day; they run multiple days. This is no different.

3. How many running events are being held in addition to the marathon?

There will be a half-marathon, a 5k race and a mile race.

4. Do you have an estimate of how many runners will be participating in the marathon and in the other running events?

Being a first-year event it’s really hard to tell. If I had to guess, I would say we will get about 2,000 registrants for the marathon and approximately 5,000 for the other races.

5. How will the city of Milwaukee benefit from the Milwaukee Running Festival?

There are multiple benefits to the city. The most obvious one is the economic impact it will generate. The least obvious one is the impact it will have in the various neighborhoods we will run through. We are doing considerable outreach in these areas and trying to get the residents involved, not just as spectators or volunteers; we would like to see them participate in one of the races. There are numerous other benefits including attraction and retention of professionals who want to live and work in a city with major running events like this, promotion of a healthy activity, and raising funds for charity.

6. How will Milwaukee charities benefit from the Festival?

We have a charity program in which runners can sign up to raise funds for one of the participating organizations. So far we have five charity partners.

7. Runners have a broad variety of locations to choose from in selecting a marathon to participate in. Why would you encourage them to participate in the first-time event?

We are creating something special here and I can tell you that there will be a huge buzz in the running community after our event. So why not be a part of it in its first year?

8. I understand that you are seeking to ensure diversity in terms of the participants who will be running through the streets of Milwaukee’s historic neighborhoods. Can you tell us about your work in coordinating with representatives of the African-American and Hispanic communities in Milwaukee?

One of the missions of this event is to bring running to some of the segments of our community that are not as exposed to it as others. This includes Milwaukee’s African-American and Hispanic communities. I have made it a priority to find influential runners among these populations and asked for their help in spreading the word about running and our event. I am very excited about this.

9. How will you know if the Festival is a success?

It will be a success if we get to do it again next year.

10. Is there anything else you would like to add?

One common misconception about this is that it is solely a running event. As I have said hundreds of times, this is a community event first and a running event second. We want to do everything we can to include the entire community and try to get them to be a part of this. We want to create an event that will make people proud to live and work in the Milwaukee area.

Thank you, Chris.

Joseph Arellano

This interview was first published on the Blogcritics site:

http://blogcritics.org/interview-chris-ponteri-director-of-the-milwaukee-running-festival/

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Running Long: A Review of Born to Run

Born to run (sm.)This book is guaranteed to appeal to certain subgroups of readers who are absolutely going to love it:  old, new and former runners, middle-distance runners, marathoners, long-distance and ultra-marathon runners, and those who gravitate to stories about indigenous tribes like the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico and the American Southwest.   If you’re not a member of one of these groups, the subject matter is unlikely to hold your interest, unless from time to time you pick up a copy of Runner’s World or Marathon and Beyond magazine and find such to be fascinating.

Of course, there have been books – not intended for the general public – that have been huge and surprising successes, such as Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer and The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger.   Yet, I suspect that this tale of world-class ultra-marathoners will remain a specialized taste for most.

The story is about a magazine editor who gets to observe an almost-secret race between some of this country’s best ultra-marathon runners and a group of “fleet-footed Tarahumara Indians.”   The race itself comes at the book’s conclusion and is not as interesting as the build-up to it.   Instead, the book is at its best when explaining the science of long-distance running, and how and why the skill of running long distances has been essential to human survival and evolution.

The author explains why there may be an almost instinctual need for some humans to run the 26.2 miles of a marathon, or further.   He is, however, mystified as to why some persons today avoid running altogether.   The section that active runners may enjoy the best is one in which Christopher McDougall fully details the reasons why expensive and highly cushioned running shoes – and those sold in the U.S. continue to get more expensive and more cushioned with each quarter of a year that goes by – lead to inevitable injuries.   After finishing this section, many runners will certainly think about hitting the roads in their running flats or rubber sandals or even barefoot.   Fascinating stuff!

Knopf, $24.95, 282 pages

Joseph Arellano

Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.

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Once A Runner, Now A Writer… (a book review)

Do you have a runner in your book club?   If so, you might want to consider adding Again to Carthage by John L. Parker, Jr. to your club’s reading list.

Parker is a former attorney who once ran on the University of Florida track team, where he recorded a time of 4:06 in the mile.   In 1978, he self-published 5,000 copies of Once A Runner which Slate magazine called “the best novel ever written about distance running.”   Runner’s World labeled it, “The best novel ever written about running.”   High praise.

The classic Runner is now out of print – fetching between $70 to $350 a copy on sites like Craig’s list and Bookfinder – but will be sold again via running stores and Amazon.com, etc., beginning in April of this year.

But you don’t have to wait until April to read Parker, as Carthage (published in late 2007) is readily available.   This is the sequel to Runner and deals with an attorney who is going through a mid-life and mid-career crisis.   Guess what he turns to in order to attempt to find his old self?   Yes, you’re right, running.

The lead character, Quenton Cassidy, decides to try to become a world-class marathoner, despite his advanced age.   Frankly, I had my problems with the first half of the book (which I purchased in a Fleet Feet store).   The sentences tended to ramble and run on too long.   Also, there was the fear that this was going to be another John Grisham-like quasi-legal novel. 

Perhaps because the author came close to dying halfway through the writing, and went from typing the book on a computer to writing the finish on legal tablets, the second half is quite different.   The language assumes a laser-like focus whether dealing with life and death or running; although to Parker they are mostly one and the same.

You will think you know precisely where this story is going – a major flaw with me with Grisham – but then something surprising intervenes close to the end.   It may be viewed as a miracle, a near miracle, or simply Parker’s acceptance of the spiritual.   Either way, the novel ends brilliantly and you’ll instantly wish you had a copy of Once A Runner in hand.   In April you will.

I read an interview with Parker in which he made clear that for him the true test of commitment in life is how much a runner gives to his/her running.   Parker, like his fictional character Cassidy, is willing to do no less than die while running.   Luckily for us, Parker has survived to give his all to his writing:  “It was like cutting the top off my head and pouring out everything about running that was in there into this (book) and just making sure it wove into the plotline.”

If I haven’t been clear about this, let me say it here:  runners will love this book!

Joseph Arellano

Note:   This book was purchased by the reviewer.

Reprinted courtesy of the Troy Bear blog; originally posted on March 2, 2009.Again_2

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