The Brew City Half Marathon is a very well-run small race in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Normally run in April each year, in 2021 due to covid, it was run in September on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. When you travel for a lot of races, vacation days at work become limited, so I always love finding a race that is during a holiday weekend. It doesn’t require taking any vacation days from work and you can have a nice long weekend to explore the city.
Flights into Milwaukee were somewhat expensive and there were no direct flights from Boston, so I ended up booking a direct flight into Chicago Midway. This ended up being a great idea, not only did I save me a lot of money, but I was able to land in Chicago before 8am instead of taking the majority of the morning flying to Milwaukee. The drive from Chicago to Milwaukee was only an hour and a half.
Normally I would have headed to pick up my race bib when I got to Milwaukee, but my only complaint about this race was that there was no bib pickup on Saturday. Bib pickup was only on Thursday, Friday and race morning on Sunday. Not too convenient for out of town runners. Thankfully it worked out picking my bib up on race morning, it wasn’t as chaotic as I thought it might be.
Since I didn’t have to pick up my bib on Saturday, I planned a fairly busy day seeing the sights. I grabbed an early lunch and then embarked on a day learning all about the history of Pabst beer in Milwaukee by taking a tour at Best Place at Historic Pabst Brewery followed by a tour of the Pabst Mansion. After a busy afternoon, I headed back to my hotel and then over to the Milwaukee Brewers game. This was a great way to relax before the race the next morning and I carb loaded on beer and french fries, not the healthiest carb loading, but you only live once! 😉
After a very early flight and a busy day seeing the sights, I was grateful that the half marathon didn’t start until 8:20am. As someone who runs alot of runDisney races which start at 5am, this race seemed like it started really late which was perfect in my opinion.
In addition to the half marathon there is also a 5K which starts at the same time and a 10K which starts 25 minutes later at 8:45am. The race started on the lakefront at McKinley Park. There was plenty of parking but some of it was a ways from the start. As always, I was running a bit later than planned, so I had to park pretty far away by the marina, but it made for a great warm up and I was still there in plenty of time to grab my bib and have some time to relax before the race started.
The weather was perfect for a race, with the race being in early September, it could have been really hot, but thankfully it wasn’t. The race started by running in McKinley park for a bit and then it took a bridge over to the Oak Leaf Trail.
The Oak Leaf Trail is a 135 mile trail system running thru Milwaukee county. This paved trail has many different access points and runs along some beautiful parts of the area like the lakefront and Milwaukee River. Along the trail there are numerous parks to explore. I was very impressed with how clean and well kept the trail was, definitely a great asset to the city and it’s residents.
The race went along the Oak Leaf Trail from the lakefront along the Milwaukee River to Lincoln Park where we turned around and ran back to McKinley Park. The sun did get a bit warm towards the end of the race, but since it was a very flat course and the weather was perfect for most of the race, it ended up being my fastest half marathon of 2021. I finished in 2 hours and 57 minutes, definitely not my fastest half marathon ever, but I’ve been struggling with my running this year and actually wasn’t properly trained, so I was very happy to finish in under 3 hours. The race does have a 3 1/2 hour time limit.
At the finish line, they had live music and being that this was a race in Milwaukee, they had brats and beer at the finish line as well. I enjoyed being able to relax and enjoy a beer from one of the local breweries while taking in the lakefront views.
After the race, I headed back to the hotel and then to Historic Third Ward to grab lunch at the Milwaukee Public Market and walk around for a bit. Later that afternoon I took a tour at Lakefront Brewery to celebrate my half marathon finish. Beer and food are my favorite way to celebrate a half marathon finish and Milwaukee is definitely a great place for that!
If you are looking for a race to run in Wisconsin, I highly recommend the Brew City Half Marathon, it was very well run and there is so much to see in Milwaukee that it makes for a great racecation. Check out my post on how to spend a long weekend in Milwaukee. In 2022, the race moved back to April and will be held on April 23rd.
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