Chris Ponteri, Speech ’88, Bus Ad ’99, was inspired after running the San Francisco Marathon in 2006.
“Not only did the route go through many cool neighborhoods and city landmarks, it also seemed to capture the attention of the entire city,” he says. “Ever since that day in San Francisco, I have been working to bring an event like this to Milwaukee.”
Ponteri will meet his goal this fall with the Milwaukee Running Festival, which launches the first urban marathon in Milwaukee. The Oct. 31–Nov. 1 weekend includes a marathon, half marathon, 5K and mile race.
We talked with Ponteri about what to expect at the fest.
Marquette Magazine: What are some of the highlights people can look forward to at this year’s fest?
CP: The course, especially for the marathon, is like a running tour of the city. We go through many historical neighborhoods and streets, by the lakefront, popular tourist destinations and other cool stuff — including the Marquette campus. We can’t wait to share this experience with everyone. The mile race and expo/packet pickup will be at the Harley-Davidson Museum so that will be a fun location. And the 5K race will go along one of the most beautiful areas of the lakefront.
MM: Is this for beginner runners, experienced runners or a mix?
CP: It’s really for everyone. A beginning runner should have no problem finishing the mile or 5K race, and even the half marathon and marathon, the route isn’t so difficult that newer runners should be afraid of it. I think experienced runners will really appreciate what we have put together here and want to come back every year.
MM: What are your goals for this event as it grows year to year?
CP: Our goal is to get to 20,000 runners in five years.
MM: How did you get into running? Were you a runner while a student at Marquette?
CP: I remember running twice during my four years as an undergraduate at Marquette — Al’s Run my freshman and sophomore years. It wasn’t until a few years after I graduated that I caught the running bug and ran my first marathon. I then started organizing races, too. Every year I seem to run more miles and organize more races.
MM: How can people sign up?
CP: Registration is open at www.milwaukeerunningfestival.com.
– Interview by Tim Cigelske