Scenic bluff-top views. Secluded upland woods. Challenging climbs. Closed roads with only the sounds of nature and fellow runner’s footfalls.
That’s the experience at the Door County Half Marathon in Peninsula State Park. Acclaimed writer and running coach Jenny Hadfield called the course “some of the most picturesque half marathon miles in the world.” Silent sports writer Tom Held likened it to “running in a cathedral in the woods.”
Registration for the 12th annual run opens Oct. 1 for the Saturday, May 4, 2019, race. Last year nearly 2,700 runners descended on Nicolet Bay for the start of the half marathon and the Nicolet Bay 5k. Both races are capped to keep the experience as good as any in America.
Runners start by soaking in a moment of silence near Nicolet Bay as spring blooms in the park, then bagpipes fill the air. The 13.1 miles take them past the historic Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, along the shore of Tennison Bay, up the Niagara Escarpment to Sven’s Bluff, and winding through the pristine woods of Wisconsin’s most treasured state park.
At the final turn they’re treated to views of Horseshoe Island, Eagle Bluff, and the picturesque village of Ephraim in the distance before racing home to a finish line in a canopy of trees.
Ross McDowell of Run Away Shoes in Green Bay and Oshkosh, calls the race a must.
“I’ve never missed this race, and I’m never going to miss this race,” he said.
All half marathon runners get a long-sleeve tech shirt, large finisher’s medal and a free beer after the race. The course offers eight aid stations, perfect for beginning runners, plus pre-race snacks and live music at the finish.
“We try to cover as many bases for our runners as possible,” said course director Myles Dannhausen Jr. “We shuttle runners from their hotels to the starting line and back so they don’t have to think about parking. We offer long packet pickup windows Friday and Saturday morning, and we start a little later so people don’t have to rise before dawn to get to the starting line.”
The course is closed to traffic and is certified by United States Track and Field. Nicolet Bay 5k participants get views of Eagle Bluff and the lighthouse, and the experience of a big race start and finish, plus a race t-shirt.
Register by Oct. 31 to save $20 on race-day registration.
Runners can also use the race to support their favorite Door County cause in the Run For A Cause program, which has helped raise more than $140,000 for local charities. Runners get a free entry to the race when they raise at least $250 for a local charity.
To Run for A Cause, register for the race, or to learn more, visit doorcountyhalfmarathon.com. View a video of the course and highlights from past years, and get all the information you need to plan an unforgettable race weekend on the Door Peninsula.