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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

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In Sports

The first-ever InStep Icebreaker indoor marathon will consist of 94 or 95 laps around the indoor track.

In Sports

The Pettit Center, opened in 16 years ago, attracts runners and skaters during cold months.

Runners head inside for InStep Icebreaker marathon


If the temperature in Milwaukee hits 55 degrees on Saturday, many Milwaukeeans might be motivated to lace up the running shoes and head out for a jog.

Of course, that isn't likely to happen.

According to National Weather Service data, the average high temperature on Jan. 17 is 26 degrees. The average low is 12. Those figures represent the lowest average highs and lows of the year in Milwaukee.

Not exactly a nice day for a run, huh? Might as well grab a bowl of pork rinds and hit the couch for a little channel surfing...

But, wait...

Nearly 100 people will run on Saturday. And, the temperature will be right around 55 degrees at the start of the first-ever InStep Icebreaker Indoor Marathon. The event, which is being billed as the "largest indoor marathon in the world," will be held at The Pettit Center.

"Runners will have perfect conditions for running -- a pleasant temperature, no wind, no ice or snow to slip on and injure yourself; it doesn't get any better than that," said race director Chris Ponteri, part-owner of InStep Running & Walking Centers, a race sponsor.

Ponteri expects runners from all over Wisconsin and eight other states to compete in the race, which will feature roughly 94 or 95 laps around the indoor track.

Ponteri came up with the idea for the InStep Icebreaker after hearing of a similar event at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. That event was held on a much smaller 282-meter track, meaning runners had to do 150 laps and only about 40 runners could compete. When Ponteri pitched the idea of an indoor marathon at the Pettit, Center officials ran with the idea.

"On an average Saturday or Sunday in the winter months, our track can easily hold 100-200 runners at one time, so having 100 participants for an indoor marathon would be no problem," said Rob Multerer, director of operations at the Pettit Center.

"We have heard from our regular users that this event would not only be very interesting, but very fun as well."

Milwaukee-based PT Timing will handle the timing for The InStep Icebreaker, using a radio frequency chip timing system similar to one used for high school and collegiate indoor track meets. Runners will attach the chip to their shoe or ankle and PT's computer system will automatically record the laps.

The entry fee for the race is $75. Ponteri said that profits from The InStep Icebreaker will be earmarked toward resurfacing the running track at the Pettit Center. The race also will draw attention to the Pettit's indoor running track, which gets steady use in cold winter months.

"The track is as old as the building and could definitely use some improvements," Multerer said, noting that building opened on the final day of 1992. "We would be able to help an important piece of our facility, by holding this very important event. Runners who use this track regularly would see benefits immediately that would only improve their running experience."

Spectators are welcome to watch the event. Concessions will be available and bleachers will be set up on one side of the track.

Race officials expect the winner to finish 26.2 miiles with a time somewhere around 2 hours, 40 minutes. The time limit for finishing the race is six hours.

Unlike outdoor races, organizers won't need a lot of volunteers. Runners will be issued water bottles with numbers matching their race bibs. Volunteers will fill the bottles during the race.


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