With an eight-kilometer run beginning at Capitol Square, continuing down State Street, looping around Picnic Point then finishing on the 50-yard line at Camp Randall and a two-mile walk through campus, the 33rd annual Crazylegs Classic brought thousands of participants together to enjoy a Madison tradition.
Crazylegs was created in 1981 by three Badgers, Tom Grantham, Ken Sparks and Rich Backus, as a way to raise money for University of Wisconsin Athletics Department, its website said. They named the event after Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch, a Badger football player in the 1940s.
The event has averaged 20,000 participants in recent years, a large increase since hosting 1,525 people when it began in 1982, the website said.
Attendance including participants and spectators was estimated to be around 25,000 people Saturday, according to a UW Police Department statement.
Winners of the race were Brenda Willis of Stevens Point for the women’s heat with a time of 27 minutes and 58 seconds and Joshua Lund, a native Madisonian, for the men’s heat with a time of 24:16 minutes, the website said. Lund finished only seconds ahead of 2011 Badger all-American cross country runner, Elliot Krause, who took second place.
“Madison has a great running community,” Lund, 24, a former runner for Duke University, said. “But I came for the beer.”
Participants were replenished at the finish line with free orange slices and water. Of-age runners received an ice-cold can of Blue Moon.
A group of friends, Jessica Levinger, a sophomore studying management and human resources; Hanna Peterson, a freshman studying nursing; and Emma Idzikowski, a freshman studying Spanish and biology, started running together in high school and continued when they got to college, Peterson said.
“We run around Madison all the time together, so to run a real race was really fun. Especially with everyone cheering you on,” she said.
Each of the girls agreed that ending the race in Camp Randall was the best part of their experience.
Peterson and Idzikowski said this was their first race, but Levinger said she returned to race for the second time.
“It really highlights all of Madison unique features because you start at the farmers’ market and run by the lake then past the observatory,” Levinger said.
Marc Lovicott, UWPD spokesperson, said they were well adjusted to monitor the expansive region the race covered and the immense amount of planning involved.
Since many major streets were blocked off to allow room for runners and walkers involved in both races, UWPD worked with other local police departments to assist in controlling and directing traffic, he said.
“We work with many local and state agencies, in fact, to coordinate efforts, and things usually go really well,” Lovicott said.