Summerfest to debut Rock 'n Sole Run, July 10
Milwaukee's Summerfest likes to do things big. They bill themselves as the world's largest music festival, after all. And big names to headline the stages have included The Doors, Bob Dylan, Santana, Eric Clapton, Sting, Metallica, Pearl Jam and this year, Katy Perry. Summerfest's nickname is even "The Big Gig."
This year Summerfest has decided to enter the road racing circuit. And early indications are that Summerfest wants the first annual Rock'n Sole Half Marathon and 10K Run on July 10 to be as big as anything else the Festival puts on.
How big? How about big enough to work with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the federal government to shut down Interstate 794 so that runners can race over the Hoan Bridge?
"We wanted a unique and world class running event for the city of Milwaukee that would celebrate Summerfest and one of our city's unique attributes, the Hoan Bridge," said John Boler, vice president of sales and marketing for Summerfest. "The idea of having the event within the event helps diversify Summerfest and brings a new element and challenge for runners and music enthusiasts."
A challenge for runners might be an understatement. Spanning 1.9 miles, the Hoan bridge provides a formidable hill. And a closer look at the race routes for both the half marathon and 10K reveals a u-turn. Competitors will have to brace for the challenge of traversing the bridge twice.
The emphasis on the bridge is not without reason, Boler explained. "We want to promote tourism for our area. And by the nature of the design of an event like this, with the city of Milwaukee and the world's largest music festival as a backdrop, we feel that this is an effective way to do so."
Boler added, "We think it is exiting and unique having the Hoan as a key aspect and challenge and we really think it will be a spectacular visual when you see thousands of runners making their way over the bridge."
Organizers of the race expect to generate serious competition by dangling $22,000 in prize money, including $2,500 for both the male and female winner of the half marathon and $1,250 for the winners of the 10K. Prize money will be awarded to the top 20 finishers in each race.
Boler said the large purse is one way Summerfest aims to differentiate the Rock'n Sole from other area runs and races. Though the race is not planning to recruit or comp any top talent, he still expects the prize pot to attract top national and potentially international runners.
What else is there to attract the 5,000 runners the organizers expect at the inaugural event? According to the race website, www.rocknsolerun.com, there is plenty for the common runner to get excited about in exchange for their entry fee ($80 for the half, $100 after June 30; $50/$70 for the 10K). All runners will receive a finisher's medal in the shape of a guitar pick along with a commemorative inaugural year short-sleeve technical T-shirt. They will also receive a wristband for free entry onto the Summerfest grounds valid anytime on race day and one additional Summerfest general admission ticket.
Net proceeds from the races will equally benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Wisconsin, Inc and Milwaukee Word Festival, Inc.
In addition, race fans and onlookers not wanting to participate in the run will have the chance to enter the Summerfest Grounds early on race day when the mid gate opens at 8 a.m.
The half marathon will begin at 8 a.m. and the 10K at 8:15 a.m. Awards are slated for 11 a.m. There will be a post-race celebration featuring live music, food and beverages. Admission to the entire grounds will open at noon and will be free for everyone from until 3 p.m.
As with any first time race, there is always the concern that there may be some hiccups. Perhaps this is why even with its music backdrop, the Rock'n Sole will not be putting live acts out on the course like at the Rock'n Roll series of road races throughout the country.
"Right now our plan is to operate this race and this run for this year," Boler says. "I'm sure when we're done we'll find areas to adapt and improve upon. We certainly will remain open to all options."
Registration for the Rock'n Sole is currently open through active.com and linked to rocknsolerun.com. Packet pick-up will start two weeks prior to the race at the In-Step Running and Walking Center, 403 E. Buffalo Street, Milwaukee.
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