There is only one constant in life: CHANGE.
After my first few years as the race director of the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon, I wrote a goal on a piece of paper. The goal was four simple words — “Establish a consistent course.” I threw that piece of paper away a long time ago. With a 26.2 mile marathon course, a 13.1 mile half marathon course, and a 3.1 mile 5K course, there are 42.4 miles that the staff and I are responsible for planning around. The odds of finding 42.4 miles of urban pavement where there is no road construction, no road realignment, no temporary closures, is a pipe dream. Each year we face new challenges and 2014 is no exception.
At the outset of the year, we learned that the Miller Lite Gate at Lambeau Field, the main entrance and exit to the Atrium, would be closed during marathon weekend due to construction. Shortly after that, we learned that we would need to move the finish line from our traditional location along Oneida Street to the west side of the stadium due to due to a mandatory event for rookie Packers players. Not even a week later, we found out that Oneida Street on the east side of the facility would be shut down in May for reconstruction, totally eliminating our ability to even enter the premises on foot or by car from Oneida Street on race weekend. Yikes!
Faced with course design challenges, we opted to break from tradition and run our marathon and half marathon participants on almost entirely separate courses. The half marathon course, which has always been popular, remains largely unchanged. With the marathon course, however, we essentially started with a blank sheet of paper. This allowed us to do some really creative things like spend more mileage in the quaint residential areas of De Pere and take the runners on a loop through historic City Stadium, the Packers original home. The relocation of the finish line also offered up some great efficiencies and ultimately more space. It is now easier for runners to get food and beverage before the race, get dropped off and picked up by bus from local hotels, and drop off and pick up gear bags. For the first time, spectators may be able to realistically watch their friend or family member run through Lambeau Field and still have enough time to get back outside and watch them cross the finish line.
I’ve always like the saying, “When life deals you lemons, make lemonade!” I think we’ve lived up to that slogan this year and I’m anxious to see if the runners, volunteers and spectators agree. See you all soon!