The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon will expand its registration limit to 3,500 for its 35th anniversary race on October 4, adding 300 slots to the state’s largest 26.2-mile test.
In recent years, the marathon sponsored by the Badgerland Striders has limited registration to 3,200 runners and filled in early April. Its capacity has long been restricted by the limited space provided on the roads through the suburbs north of the finish area on Milwaukee’s lakefront.
The Striders have been working to expand the field, and faces new competition in 2015. The Milwaukee Running Festival has organized a marathon and half marathon, all within city neighborhoods, to debut on November 1.
“In our 35th year, our race team and overall Badgerland Striders Club heard the demands from the running community, and we’re thrilled to announce an increase in capacity this year,” said race director Jon Mueller.
Based on the number of finishers, the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon ranks near the top 50 marathons in the country. Nearly 2,100 runners crossed the finish line in Veterans Park in the 2014 event.
Organizers of the Milwaukee Running Festival have stated their goal is to create a larger event to draw 10,000 or more participants in a marathon and half marathon, and match other cities, like Cincinnati, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pa.
The half marathon is the key to reaching those numbers.
In Wisconsin, for example, the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon finisher total is nearly double that of similar races, including the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon, with 1,568 finishers in 2014. But that race draws more than 5,000 participants for a half marathon and another 4,000 for its 5K.
The state’s largest timed race is the Bellin Run 10K, in Green Bay, with more than 16,000 runners each year, according to data compiled by RunningUSA.