Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lakefront Marathon Leadership Change

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Thursday July 12, 2012


Leadership Change for 2013

Some of you may have read that this is my last year as LFM Race Director. First, I want to assure everyone that our race team and I are fully committed to making our 2012 LFM the best ever. Because many of you have asked me about this and because we have always been completely transparent in our decision making I wanted to make sure that I communicated the circumstances surrounding this change.
As you may know Milwaukee is one of very few (maybe the only) major city without a large marathon/half marathon. Our Race Committee has long been concerned that Milwaukee is ripe for the entrance of a commercially produced marathon/half marathon - it is only a matter of time, we believe. We also have believed that such an event would have a negative impact on our race and on our owner, the Badgerland Striders Running Club. Based upon these "threats" our Race Committee engaged in a year long strategic process looking to options to expand our event's footprint. It will come as no surprise that the response everywhere we turned was to add a half marathon with a “City Course” - that would (at maturity) have given us an event with 5,000 or more participants. The critical challenge was to figure out how to do that without diminishing the marathon experience. Like you, when we’re running a marathon we really hate to see the half marathoners peel off halfway through our race. We came up with a concept that would see the half marathon begin at 7AM at the marathon finish in Veterans Park and proceed on a "City Course", finishing at Veterans Park in advance of the marathon finishers. This concept would have provided the added benefit of a large crowd of runners at the finish to greet our marathon winners. We saw this as a win-win as the marathoners would benefit from the community and sponsorship interest of a larger event as well as other economies of scale – without diminishing the marathon experience.
This expansion of the race would have obviously required a substantial additional time commitment from a Race Director and other race staff. However, because the Badgerland Striders have a strict policy of not compensating any race or other club directors (I have done this for 13 years as a volunteer), we also recommended an alternative business model that would have continued the race as a non-profit entity and continued to provide the same significant financial resources to BLS, while providing more autonomy for the management of LFM. Any excess funds would have been used to support kids running and fitness programs.  We presented this concept to the BLS Board of Directors and unfortunately it was soundly defeated. There was no support for expansion of this event. At the outset I had indicated that I was not willing to continue this significant volunteer commitment if this proposal was not accepted - knowing that we could not do what we believe is required to respond to the competitive environment. Our Race Committee and I remain, of course, fully committed to the 2012 LFM and to work with the successor volunteer race director.
I am happy to announce that Dr. Jon Mueller has stepped forward to assume the Race Director duties in 2013. Many of you know Jon from his work as the Director of our BLS Marathon Build-up Program. Jon will begin to work with our team immediately. Our team and I are fully committed to the 2012 race and to a smooth transition for Jon and his team.
It has been my honor and pleasure to stand on that scaffold in Grafton each year and send you on your way to the finish in Veterans Park. I feel such pride in each and every finish - that you trusted us with your Marathon Dreams. I am so much wealthier for your friendship and support.
See you in October!
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LFM Kid's Run Returns

Because this e-blast is being sent to a large number of LFM runners past and future, we also wanted everyone to know that registration is open for our Kid's Run - 3PM on Saturday.  The kids run 25 miles before race day and then run the final 1.2 miles of their own marathon - finishing at the official LFM Finish Line.  More information about the Kid's Run is on our web site.