An odd thing is that in all the time I’ve lived in Chicago, I’ve been to Milwaukee about three times. It always seems like it’s a million miles away, but it’s really only an hour and a half drive. So when I was trying to find a June Half for this ridiculous project and had to expand beyond the Chicagoland area, I was at first glance dismissive of the Milwaukee Country Sole Half-Marathon, but then realized that it was a lot closer than some of the downstate races I had found.
Also, it was a chance to earn a belt buckle. Except, I know enough about belt buckles in running that I’m never going to wear it out (I did to work today, but just to show it off to someone as “the belt buckle I’m never going to wear again”).
You see, in running belt buckles are associated with ultra-marathons—one of the first ultras was actually a horse race that people started running on foot because… well, because people. In any case, the finishers medal for the horse race was a belt buckle and so that became the award for the foot race it turned into and then as other ultras were organized they started awarding belt buckles. So earning a belt buckle shows that you’re pretty hardcore.
Except that in recent years the explosion of running events has led to an arms race of clever medal designs and so I suppose that it was only inevitable that someone would do a “cowboy” themed race and have a belt buckle as the medal. I know the Austin, TX Half-Marathon did just that last year. And All Community Events has done the “Country Sole Half-Marathon” and I did it and got my belt buckle.
The race itself, I should mention, was delightful. It was in a County Park in Milwaukee that followed the course of a river and then when we ran out of park the course was along a rails-to-trails trail, so while we were in the city, there were only a few road crossings and it was, you know, pretty.
The after-party had something unique I hadn’t seen before—the park itself had a Biergarten with actual Brauhaus München beers on tap and the post-race beer was good for one of those. There were also german-style full liter glasses of beer available for purchase. I wish I hadn’t had a 90 minute drive waiting for me to get home or I would have really enjoyed sipping one of those and wandering around the park.
 Basically, anything over 26.2 miles.
Pace: 11:28 min/m
Place: 196 / 229
Place in Gender: 104 / 112
Place in Age Group (M45-49): 17 / 17