This was no ordinary expo…. This was an expo at Lambeau Field. Born and raised in Wisconsin as a proud “cheesehead”, I bounced up the steps into the stadium with palpable exuberance. Packet pickup for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon ran smoothly: bib collection at club level, race shirts and vendors in the atrium. I LOVED the Eastbay shirts for the half and full, as well as the water bottle and bondi bands given out as commemorative items for runners in celebration of the 15th anniversary of this race.
Our room at the Spring Hill Suites was in easy walking distance. The start line for all races was just outside the stadium on Lombardi Ave., and the finish line was in the parking lot. There are slightly closer hotels, but the staff at the Marriott really catered to us. The rooms were huge, late checkouts provided, and they put out breakfast two hours early for the runners – including complimentary grab and go boxes with a banana, muffin, and a yogurt in each. It is also directly across the street from Brett Favre’s Steakhouse – where we chose to have our pre-race dinner.
The streets around the stadium are named after the greats who have graced the field as players and coaches: Holmgrem Way, Brett Favre Pass, Tony Canadeo Run, just to name a few. This area also features the Walk Of Legends: a one-mile area which featuring 24 statues celebrating the legends & history of Green Bay football. The project was created by Sandi Campbell, designed by Corrie Campbell & sponsored by the Oneida Tribe of Indians of WI.
The morning of the 5k had perfect weather. Mid 40’s and clear blue skies. Over 5000 runners, half of whom were children took to the streets, chatting about the final mile which would take runners into Lambeau, out the players tunnel and around the field.The finish line party for the 5k was amazing. Runners received 2 drink tickets and could choose from root beer, miller light, or Redd’s apple ale. Chocolate milk, sweet tea, fruit, cookies, and hot dog sliders were also provided.
The half and full marathons shared the same starting line, but the marathon, which ran a completely different course, started an hour earlier. The course for the half was nice, mostly residential, and also ended with to the final lap around the stadium. The full would end there as well, but also took runners past city stadium, which opened in 1926 – pre-dating Lambeau Field and the original home of the Green Bay Packers. Throughout the race there was great of crowd support and enthusiastic volunteers. The icy pop station was my favorite unexpected stop.
Collecting my beautiful medal, I wandered through the crowds. The beverages here were the same but the hot dogs were replaced with Oktoberfest Brats, dill pickle potato chips on the side. Making my way back to the hotel, the shadow of history behind me, I was grateful to have made this journey back home to run the 15th anniversary of this great race. It wont be an annual run for me, but the hope of coming back to run the full for the 20th anniversary is now on the horizon.