What You Should Know About The Gopher To Badger Half Marathon And 5K
Tracing its roots back to 1997, the Final Stretch Gopher to Badger Half Marathon & 5K offer a chance for local runners to get in on the friendly border battle played out across so many different levels of sporting between Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The top 5 finishers from each state will have their times added up, and the lowest cumulative total time will determine the winner. Race Director Mark Bongers admidts that Minnesota has swept the contest so far – but Wisconsin has come close a few times! Perhaps this will be the year? Mark was also quick to point out one other interesting fact about this rivalry:
Plenty of longer races – this half marathon included – can claim to cross state lines. But how many 5Ks also offer you that same opportunity?
Getting To The Start
Both the half marathon and the 5K are point to point races, so you will want to plan out your logistics carefully. Buses are offered from the finish area to the starting line of both races (make sure to get on the correct bus), and parking is available at the start area for the half marathon. There will not be buses to bring you back from the finish, so only park at the start if you have a way back again!
I have been lucky enough to have been dropped off at the start for both of my races, so we reached out to some friends and family for their insight. Dr. Nicole Kilgo had this to say about getting to the start:
I always try to get to the starting line a little early as parking can be a bit crazy. There is a parking lot at the finish line but it fills up fast. The bus ride to the start is easy and pretty quick!
We also reached out to a random Facebook acquaintance (O.K., more like the author’s youngest sibling and past event participant) Bethany Grimm, who had this to say about the course:
I love the picturesque finish in the park and the general awesomeness of crossing the state line via the 94 bridge!
It’s hard to know how to write about this race, as the Gopher to Badger half marathon course literally has a little bit of everything; runners start in a county fairground, pass through urban neighborhoods, fly down a steep hill to county highways, run on paved trails through some woods, use an interstate bridge to get over the St. Croix, and pass along a beach on the way to the finish line. The course definitely wouldn’t be described as flat, but everyone we talked to seemed to agree with our personal experience – hills are there, but manageable.
Dr. Nicole Kilgo: “I have PRed on this course both times I have ran it.”
Race Director Mark wants to remind people to please avoid driving on the roads used for the race. The layout of the half marathon does help make spectating a bit easier. Here are a few suggestions:
- See the start of the race, then drive half a mile out of the fairgrounds to 40th st and Northbrook Blvd (park on 40th st) to catch the runners at about mile 4.
- Catch the race at about mile 11 by heading to the corner of Hudson Rd N and Quinnell Ave N (near a water stop). This is a great place to help cheer people on as the going gets really tough, and then still have time to double back to the park to catch the finish. Alternately, the commuter lot just south of the Bungalow Inn in Lakeland (both on Rivercrest Rd N) offers a good chance to get some cheering in near the end while giving you a few extra minutes to make it to the finish line.
The Finish Line Festivities
At this race, getting to the finish line (and the cups of water) is just the beginning. Besides the typical hydration/bananas/restroom options (real restrooms, not just porta-potties!), Lakefront Park in Hudson also includes plenty of fun vendor samples, plus Orthology Physical Wellness will be on hand for post-race massages. The presentation of race awards will occur in the bandshell, and this year there will even be a band playing for several hours, beginning as the first few 5K finishers arrive at the park. There is also great finish line spectating to be had, so be sure to grab some sports drink and walk around a bit, cheering other runners to their finish as you keep from stiffening up yourself.
Are you ready to pick a side and join in the fun? Registration is available online, at packet pickup, and on race day – all of the details are available here. The Gopher to Badger Half Marathon & 5K is limited to 2500 runners, so register soon! Save $5 with promo code RUNMN16!
Through June 8th:
- Half Marathon: $57
- 5K: $42
Through July 11th:
- Half Marathon: $61
- 5K: $45
Through August 12th:
- Half Marathon: $66
- 5K: $46
Race Day Registration (if spots remain):
- Half Marathon: $70
- 5K: $50
Your Gopher to Badger Half Marathon Experience
Have you run this event before? Are you taking a side? Let’s get some friendly trash talking going in the comments below!