Bragging rights on the line for local runners

By Wendy Wartenweiler-Bronchetti

One does not need to venture far without seeing a runner careening through our streets. As a runner myself, I am proud to live in such an active running community. The reasons runners run are endless. For me it is the simplicity-time, shoes and running duds. I encourage others to give it go. To further my running pride and promote more fitness, I am spearheading an initiative to make our community even more runner-friendly.

Three local business owners who are also runners and athletes are jumping on board. They are Erika Weidler, co-owner of the Firefly Coffeehouse, Miranda Bush, owner of The Zone Fitness and Training, and Dan Bertler, owner of Supreme Structures.

In order to generate buzz, we decided to start a friendly running competition, with the goal of getting runners training, bantering together and spreading the word on a single race. Bring on the Crazylegs Classic.

This wildly popular race is Madison’s largest, expecting around 20,000 people. The April 28 event offers an 8k run and a 2-mile walk, but it’s the overall experience that makes this the perfect kickoff event.

As one race veteran put it recently, it’s all about having fun. “Crazylegs is a great way to get the running season started,” said Christine Johnston, an Oregon resident who has run 28 out of the event’s 31 races. “Running by the Octopus carwash employees spouting water, Breese Terrace students near the finish blaring the ‘Rocky’ theme and running into Camp Randall Stadium to meet, laugh and dance with friends all make it fun.”

All three captains shared similar sentiments as Johnston. “The best parts for me are the sheer number of people running,” Weidler added. “It is amazing. The energy is fantastic, and what is better than being with your supportive friends while completing a common goal.”

All the captains emphasized the priority is getting people to join any team, not just theirs, and spread the word about this race, running and fitness. Along the way though they are loving the ribbing and fun smack talk.

Weidler’s Firefly Coffeehouse Running Group team (835-6238) is the one where my loyalty lies, as I am one of the spearheaders of the Firefly running group.

Weidler is the bubbly face of one of Oregon’s top social spots, so getting on board with her makes it extra fun as you can indulge in some of the love and energy she has for her team when you are enjoying Firefly. She obtains race packets, gives a $5 gift card and has post-race drawings for running swag. She will also proudly display our team’s photo, plaque, and will spiritedly dole out the brag opportunities within the Firefly.

Bush’s Zone Fitness and Training team (835-9094) follows her philosophy of promoting goal-setting to help with motivation and taking exercise and training farther.

“I love to race and find the camaraderie to be an awesome thing that you don’t get to experience often as an adult living in a very competitive world,” she said. The Zone team is for members and non-members. She picks up race packets and has the advantage of her gym facility to give her team the specialized training they offer.

Bertler’s Supreme Structures team ([email protected]) is lucky to have many sponsors and, in concert with the race, raises money for the National Lung Cancer Partnership. This gets them some swanky perks, a few of which are a Supreme technical running shirt, door prizes and a bus from Camp Randall to a post party at the Great Dane Pub with live music and free beer.

One of several reasons he organizes the team each year is that he himself ran his first 5-mile race at Crazylegs and it led him to take his own running and fitness to a whole new level. He is now able to enjoy seeing other new people come on board and watch them as they push themselves to new limits.

All good rivalries need a contest, a prize and something to esteem. The two contests on the line are the fastest average overall team time and the fastest team captain.

The winning team will get a trophy to display in their business. Bertler is having a unique trophy crafted that will travel to the new winner each year. But the three team captains agreed as far as the fastest team captain prize that there is nothing better than good, old-fashioned bragging rights – something there will be no shortage of with this trio.

I have already enjoyed a zippy burst of energy planning this and am using it for my own training. I look forward to seeing how this overall initiative energy spreads throughout the community. To those who would like to join up with others, you should give the Firefly Coffeehouse running group a try. We meet Saturdays at 8 a.m. at the Firefly. It is fun, free and all levels are welcome.

Whether you come join us some Saturday, start walking or begin race training, the important thing is to just get out there. By joining Crazylegs or any race, remember that you win for yourself just by making it to the start line and that it does not matter where you finish. You are still are beating everyone on the couch.

Go for it. You deserve it.