There’s nothing leisurely about the growth of the Door County Half Marathon, in a vacation destination more noted for sedentary pursuits.
The closed course in Peninsula State Park has become a big draw for runners, and registration for the fifth annual race on May 5 is approaching 1,400. The cap for the half is 1,800 and the Nicolet Bay 5K race has room for 500. All but 50 of those slots have been taken.
Door County Race Director Brian Fitzgerald shared his thoughts on the field limits last year: "The goal of the event is to fit into that boutique or niche group. It will be a capped event, and we don't want to take away from the overall experience of the participants. If we're going to increase, it will be slight."
Demand has been fueled by positive reviews, including this one from Coach Jenny Hadfield, on the Active.com site. Hadfield described the race the “perfect weekend get-away destination event.”
Myles Dannhausen Jr., from the Peninsula Pulse, has been surprised by the success of the new lures for visitors to Door County.
The lead pack, with winner Dominick Meyer in black, show off the scenic course in Peninsula State Park. Photo courtesy of Dan Eggert.
“I was born and raised here,” Dannhausen said. “I was skeptical about attracting people here for events like the Door County Half Marathon and Door County Triathlon, but now that they're established they seem like such obvious things to do here.
“To see my hometown community (one that is increasingly populated by retirees) energized by events geared toward young, active people has been invigorating.
“This place just feels different on half marathon weekend. The business community embraces it, I see our t-shirts filling restaurants and bars. I see our sidewalks full. It's a weekend that was empty in Door County, and five years later it's full of life. If there's a better testament to the economic impact of silent sports, I haven't seen it.”
I beat the rush and registered to check out this scenic layout myself.