Fox Cities vs Lakefront

Welcome! Forums Running Forum Fox Cities vs Lakefront

This topic contains 19 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Ryan 13 years, 2 months ago.

  • Author
  • #5135

    In the quest to qualify for Boston jtpaten and I are constantly debating, weighing and analyzing.  While it may not be the noblest thing to do ,we are reserved to looking for a fast marathon to get us East.  I doubt many would look for the toughest course to try and qualify for Boston, a few perhaps but not many.
    So I would appreciate any input from those who have run both the Fox Cities and Lakefront marathons.  As some may recall we have run Chicago and yes it is fast and yes there a plenty of people to cheer you on and to chase down in those final miles.  But we are looking to stay in the state and keep it small.  Yet with such a lofty goal… 
    I do realize that no matter the race we choose, mother nature will do as she pleases, however, the reports from Lakefront are “nice” headwinds in the final miles, does this ever change? 😉

  • #20446


    What is the timeframe for these two races? Your safest bet may be to register for both, if advanced registration is necessary, and see how the conditions are for the first.

    While my history at Lakefront is, to say the least, unpleasant when it comes to the wind, I would not say that my experiences reflect the typical year. Remember, getting a headwind on a point to point nearly straight shot course like Lakefront requires the wind to be out of the right (wrong) direction. Get a wind out of the north and you'd have a nice tailwind to carry you through those final miles. From what I've heard and observed on years I was not running, you are more likely to catch a tailwind than a headwind at Lakefront.

    FWIW, I won't be running Lakefront this year so your chances of avoiding a headwind are that much better. 😉

  • #20447

    Have you given any thought to Whistlestop in Ashland?  In reading Joel's posts I know he does much of his training on trails, Whistlestop is crushed stone, easy surface to run on.
    It's in October and the weather is usually pretty good.

    There was a group from here who ran it as their qualifying course for Boston, they had good results. Since it's on an old rr bed the course has a slight downgrade and no hills.
    Just tossing out another option. 

  • #20448

    Yes, we've considered Whistlestop. In fact, I ran it in 2001 as my first marathon.  And in the rain the whole way. And I made every rook mistake possible, including starting way to fast which reduced my to walking much of the course between miles 18 and 23. Nevertheless, I finished 20 seconds under 4 hours.

    Returning to the race for a shot at redemption holds its attraction.

    But I wonder if the crushed limestone might slow us down. The other downsides include the small field that stretches out there. I remember not running with anyone else for long periods of time. And spectators were lacking along the course. Adimal and I will have eachother and we'd see our wives and my kids at a handful of road crossings, which would compensate….

    Last night a new guy showed up to run with the monday evening running group in Waupaca. (Yes, we've kept it up since early January and I have yet to run alone.) He said he's run all 15 Fox Cities Marathons yet was reticent to recommend it for a BQ. The elevation map shows a steady climb from miles 14 to 22 but an elevation gain of only 100 or so feet. He also said there's a lot of concrete; less last year. (The course has been rerouted several times over the years, apparently.)

    FCM enjoys a lot of community support and enthusiastic spectators for a small marathon, aqccording to the comments on At the same site, “Lakefront” and “wind” are used synonymously and frequently.

    I quizzed the new guy about both marathons before he said, unprompted, “You know what you should do? Ashland.”

    So here we are. Back to square one without a race picked. Fox Cities is Sept. 24. Lakefront is a week later, and Whistlestop is Oct. 14. Chicago is Oct. 22. We're not likely to register for one of the first two AND Chicago given the expense of the latter and need for hotel reservations.

    What's good about Fox Cities is that we can eat and sleep the night before at my home and drive the 40 minutes to the starting line the morning of the race. Come to think of it, we could probably run much of the course as a pre-race weekend LSD.

    I think we're leaning toward Fox Cities. If so, the Pfitz plan goes into affect this week. Still we've got time to decide. Any more thoughts from y'all would be helpful.

  • #20449


    At the same site, “Lakefront” and “wind” are used synonymously and frequently.

    I have to wonder how many of those comments were based on the 2002 and 2004 editions of the race. Those are the only ones I'm aware of where the wind was a significant negative factor. For a nearly 30 year history, two editions being affected so significantly by a headwind on this type of course doesn't seem like all that bad odds.

    I truly believe that Lakefront is a great course for running a fast time. Yes, you put yourself at the mercy of the weather but you do when running any marathon, especially ones run on point to point courses. If the conditions are right, though, I think Lakefront can be as fast as anything out there.

  • #20450

    Whistlestop does get pretty quiet out there, a lot like running the Green Circle, maybe that's one reason I felt so comfortable. Like being at home.
    Lakefront will have more runners then Appleton so if having others around you is a consideration that may be the way to go.

    I've only run the 1/2 at Fox Cities and it was a hot day so not the best time for me.
    Fall in WI-take your pick:rain (snow),wind or heat.  It's very unpredictable.

    It's exciting that you guys want to BQ, wherever you end up best of luck! 

  • #20451

    I only ran Lakefront once, and I have never ran Fox cities.  But the year I ran Lakefront, the weather was perfect; 50 degrees, sunny, little wind.  Only hills are in first mile, and at mile 23 it goes down hill; so basically it's about as flat as you can get for a marathon.  I have yet to run any coarses flatter, and i've run 8 marathon to date.  So if you're looking for a fast time, Lakefront is a good choice in many years.  A lot depends on the weather.  Some years, people I 've known ended up running the whole way against the wind.  Obviously, precipitation and temperature are unpredictable for most marathons. 

    Anyways, I've run 6 more marathons since Lakefront, and i've yet to break my PR I ran on that coarse back in October of 2001 (of coaurse, that's going to change real soon).  As for Fox Cities, I hear it's a nice coarse, but it can get hot some years.  Best of Luck to you.

    Jason Grimm

  • #20452

    I've run Lakefront 9x (no Fox Valleys or Whistlestop) In '03 at age 51 I BQ'd and PR'd
    with 3:12. In '04 (the year of the mighty headwind) I still managed 3:22. My point is LFM is a GREAT Boston qualifier course. I've invited a friend from Ft Wayne to run it this October as his BQ

  • #20453

    What if you plan on Fox Cities or Lakefront and have Whistlestop as a backup if things don't go as planned?  You can always register for Whistlestop the night before the race.

    Whistlestop is the only one of the 3 that I've run, so I can only speak to that.  I can guarantee that it will not be hot in Ashland on Oct 14th.  The course (or coarse :- ) is fairly well blocked by the trees, so wind shouldn't be that big of an issue.  It's pancake flat, which can be good or bad – sometimes it's good to work different muscles.  I ended up running solo from mile 15 on, but that was okay with me because I was feeling awesome.  Plus I started to catch people and pass half marathoners. 

    If you “need” lots of people to run with and lots of crowd support.  This is not your race.  If you want a low-key race without all the hype where you don't feel a ton of pressure, this may be your race. 

    Maybe the surface does slow the runners down some, but what it takes away, it gives back with not having your legs feel like hamburger during the last 10k.  Plus your post-race recovery will be a lot faster.

  • #20454

    Just to make sure I understand, Ryan and Zeke, are you suggesting Adimal and I register for more than one of the marathons under consideration with the intention to run one but not the other?

    If the idea is to do or skip the first depending on the weather, we'd be out the money for the hotel and registration for the event skipped. Since we'd like to take our families, this sounds too costly and impractical. (We're already planning to run the Grand Island Trail Marathon without our entourage or pressure to “race” it. That one's just for fun!)

    But if you're recommending we register for two, just a few weeks apart, so we can have a second shot at a BQ … well, sorry, but that sounds suicidal. GITM came six weeks after Grandma's last year and that was really too soon for us. Chicago was another 10 weeks later (and 23 min faster than GITM; 10 min. faster than my previous PR at Grandma's).

    Still, three felt like too many marathons in a single year for this 30-something bod. 

  • #20455

    I was suggesting you sign up for either Fox Cities or Lake Front.  If something “goes wrong” and you realize that you have no shot at a BQ within the first 15 miles or so, pull the plug.  Then head to Ashland 2-3 weeks later and redeem yourself.  Remember you can register Whistlestop the night before, so there's no need to sign up for 2 races until you know you need the 2nd one.  Of course, that doesn't take into account hotels, etc.  Maybe that's a reason to do Fox Cities first, since you can stay at home.

  • #20456


    My suggestion was to see about either Zeke's idea or register for two ahead of time. If you register for Lakefront early enough, it's not that expensive. For Lakefront, I'd also highly doubt you'd have to book a hotel room ahead of time. I think the Milwaukee metro has more than enough hotel rooms to support a marathon with 2000 participants.

    Unfortunately, while you used to be able to register on the morning of the race for Lakefront, you no longer can. Registration filled up I believe about a month in advance last year.

    I understand that this can be expensive, which is the reason I didn't do it twice when I signed up for Lakefront. After being burned both times, I've found myself reconsidering whether, when signing up for a race that could be so significantly affected by the weather, the investment of having a back up plan is worthwhile.

  • #20457

    Adimal and Joel, what's your qualifying time for Boston?


  • #20458

    3:10:59 or better.

    At Chicago last fall, I ran a 3:19:08 and Adimal ran a 3:22.

    We're shootin' for the moon!

  • #20459

    3:10:59 or better.

    Be honest now; your time is 3:15:59 and Adimal's is 3:10:59.

  • #20460

    I honestly intend to qualify, as will Adimal, with a 3:10. ;D

  • #20461

    Of course you guys want to run stride-for-stride and finish in sub-3:11.

    But what happens if you guys get to mile 20 in 2:25 (roughly 3:11 pace) and you start to hurt but Adimal feels good? 

    A) Does Adimal slow down and pull you to a 3:15 qualifier, but miss qualifying himself?
    B) Does Adimal drag you along for another mile or two before you blow up and miss qualifying?  Maybe he goes on to qualify, maybe he sticks with you and fails to qualify too.
    C) Do you go your separate ways where Adimal stays strong and runs a 3:10 while you falter a bit but still run 3:15?

    Just something to think about.  I think it's great to have a training partner with similar goals, but on race day I think it's every man for himself.  Too much can happen in the span of 26 miles.  It can make running with another person very difficult.

  • #20462

    Having not run Fox Cities, I can only give you my experience with Lakefront.

    In 2003, with absolutely perfect conditions, I ran 3:07 for my debut.
    In 2005, with it being a bit on the warm side (close to 70 at the finish, last 3 miles with a 10 mph headwind), I ran 2:59.

    Unless you have severe headwinds out of the south, Lakefront is the best course for a BQ assault of the 3 fall races in Wisconsin, in my somewhat biased opinion. You run the majority of the race in the shade (east side of street when heading south for 17 of 1st 23 miles), it is flatter than a pancake, and there will be plently of people to run with btwn 3:05 and 3:15 pace – more so than Fox Cities. Maybe you don't need that, but I think it's good to have people around you. You already know the pros and cons of Whistlestop.

    Of course, you are closer to Appleton, and there is an advantage to sleeping in your own bed the night before a marathon vs. being in a hotel.

    It comes down to what are you most comfortable with. I've never regretted running Lakefront. Even though I passed up a chance to run Chicago on my 40th birthday for my 1st marathon, I'm convinced I ran the fastest possible time on that course.

    Heck, if you run Lakefront, I'll even help devise a pace strategy for you, based on what pski planned for me last year. It worked to perfection, but it made some curious looks for the people running along side me when at mile 7, I said I was going to slow it down for the next 10 miles.

    Now, I hope you and Adimal are running comfortable 35-45 mile weeks about now, ready to kick it up to the 45-55 range come 5 weeks from now  😛

  • #20463

    Of course you guys want to run stride-for-stride and finish in sub-3:11.

    But what happens if you guys get to mile 20 in 2:25 (roughly 3:11 pace) and you start to hurt but Adimal feels good? 

    The answer for me is C, if we hit 20 at the right time and jtpaten is faltering and I am not hopefully he can still get the 3:15.  Personnally I am doing all I can (physically and mentally) not to let the opposite happen, he qualifies and I do not. Yes I have much more to chew off but I am much faster at this point in the season than this time last year. 
    Hey we've managed to run 5 marathons together and never finished more than 3-4 minutes apart and I've always been the one on the short end of the stick. 

    C) Do you go your separate ways where Adimal stays strong and runs a 3:10 while you falter a bit but still run 3:15?

    Thanks to everyone for all the advice, it's great, now we must decide and not disappoint!  We are both ready for the pfitz 18 week plan!

  • #20464


    Adimal, that's the point. If you two are 3-4 minutes apart and it works out that this next effort is the point in time where you are 3-4 minutes ahead, all you need is 3:10:59. There would be no issue with him being 3-4 minutes behind you if you're at 3:10:59 or faster.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.