Four years after hitting the wall, the resurgent Trailbreaker Marathon in Waukesha will attract nearly 1,000 runners on Saturday and build enthusiasm in the city.
Not only has the Trailbreaker regained its status as an unofficial start to the Wisconsin marathon season, it has gained new partners in Carroll University and downtown businesses. The 2012 edition, the 20th running of the Trailbreaker, also will produce more than $20,000 for the Parks Foundation of Waukesha.
“We’re looking forward to another good year, a safe race, and some new runners; that would be excellent,” said Cat Jorgens, a parks foundation board member and general counsel at Carroll.
Dozens of students have signed on to volunteer at aid stations, help fill race bags, deliver food at the finish and serve as course marshals.
The bigger draw remains the signature element of the unique course: a run on the Ice Age Trail to the top of the 45-foot tower at Lapham Peak, the highest point in Waukesha County, 1,233 feet.
“It’s unusual, certainly,” said Pat Gorman, 53, who has finished all previous 19 Trailbreakers. “You climb the darn tower, ring the bell or memorialize your ascent in some way, then go back to Waukesha.”
Gorman, from Barrington Ill., will be striving to keep pace on Saturday with Lorraine Bunk and Clement Grum, as the only two other runners to finish each and every climb.
“It’s always had a nice, hometown feel to it,” Gorman said. “It’s always been something of a runners’ race. I don’t like races that have become too commercialized and are more about turning a profit and keeping a race director employed full-time.”
Local runners Don Ayers, Bill Hotz and Dick Pas, created the Trailbreaker in 1992 to showcase the Glacial Drumlin Trail that passes through Waukesha. After losing key support, the organizers canceled the race in 2008.
The Waukesha Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department picked up the logistical chores and partnered with the Parks Foundation to restart the race in 2009.
“We are very fitness motivated, and this is definitely a fitness event to run a run and manage a race,” said Mona Bauer, a parks department administrator. “It attracts people from all over the country, and that showcases Waukesha.”
Mayor Jeff Scrima will be one of those motivated by fitness. Scrima has signed up to run the half-marathon.
Word is that the mayor is a dedicated runner, and Bauer commented: “We’ll see if he is.”
Details: Race day registration will open at 6 a.m. in the Schuetze Building in Frame Park, 1120 Baxter St. Fees are $55 for the marathon, $45 for the half marathon and $35 for the 5K. The marathon starts at 8 a.m., the half marathon at 9:30, and the 5K at 10 a.m.
Course: Both the marathon and half marathon courses are out and back, starting on city streets feeding to the Glacial Drumlin Trail. Elevation gain for the marathon is 438 feet, then it’s all downhill from the turnaround.
2011 winners: A.J. Lemke, of Germantown, Ohio, 3:05:31. J. Ashleigh Spees, Waukesha, 3:33:24.