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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Crazylegs Classic: Iconic race returns to UW for 42nd year

Yearly race brings all of UW together as one for weekend in April
Jacob Duran

The yearly tradition started with the work of three students at UW who were looking to raise money for the Badgers’ athletic teams at the time. In 1982, Tom Grantham, Ken Sparks and Rich Backus approached Elroy Hirsch, who was the current Athletic Director, the website home page said.

Hirsch, also known as “Crazylegs,” was the star of the football team in the early 1940s. He led the Badgers to numerous successful seasons as a multi-threat athlete — taking his talents to the NFL. From 1969-1987, the former football player took on the role of athletic director at UW.

The three students approached Hirsch with this proposal to help raise money and awareness for UW athletics. They asked to name it in honor of Hirsch — using the nickname “Crazylegs” to run with in the future, according to its website.


Many alumni and people from the Madison area have benefitted from the creation of the Crazylegs Classic — including 2023 UW graduate Brandon Sanger.

Sanger participated in the event in his junior year at UW and is planning on doing so again this upcoming April.

This year’s race takes place Apr. 27, as participants take on a course that snakes around campus and the city — starting at one of UW’s staples and concluding at the base of the Kohl Center.

“It started over in Library Mall, which was pretty cool and had a bunch of live music and everyone was there having a good time,” Sanger said about his first time participating in the event.

After starting at Library Mall, located on the corner of North Lake Street and State Street, the 8K race loops down State Street and onto Gilman Street before making two left turns to Langdon Street.

Sanger mentioned racers are surrounded by the likes of fraternities and sororities getting prepared for the Mifflin Block Party in the morning as they take on the downhill.

As participants get past Memorial Union, they endure the hill near College Library. It’s an eerily similar hill to Bascom, which lays right next to it.

“It’s definitely a pain,” Sanger said with a smile. “It’s not an easy one, but it’s nice once you get to the top.”

From there though, the race is mostly downhill and loops through the rest of campus. For many — including Sanger — this includes reminiscing about their memories throughout the Lakeshore Neighborhood.

The same could be said as the race winds through the west side of campus, into the UW Hospital area and near Goodman Diamond, home of the Badgers’ softball program.

“I know that when I was in college and just training for it, I’d always run along the Lakeshore Path, so it’s cool to be over in that area,” Sanger said. “It’s more familiar.”

The race captures a majority of campus, as the course brings runners back to the south side near Camp Randall, West Dayton Street and Spring Street.

It makes it a neat experience for many of the alumni who lived in different areas of Madison, such as Sanger. The race provides participants the ability to revisit those houses and apartments.

The graduate mentioned he resided in the dorms, XO1, near Mifflin in a house and then concluded his college tenure on Lathrop Street — located just west of Camp Randall. The Crazylegs Classic course nearly covers all of this.

As Sanger and the rest of the competition concludes its race Apr. 27, they will be handed two free beers if over the age of 21 and hang out at the after party — which includes live music and food.

Like many alumni, Sanger will be meeting up with some of his college friends to take on the Crazylegs Classic. Afterwards, Sanger and his group plan to hang out at one of his friend’s houses for the rest of the Saturday — enjoying the vibrant culture Madison never fails to deliver.

“It’s just the Madison style, right?” Sanger said. “You go and run an 8K and you just drink beer afterwards, so I’m just looking forward to that.”

The race provides athletes from all ages the ability to reconnect to a special place where they may have spent a good portion of their lives.

There’s a sense of unity within the event, all to support UW Athletics, which has accomplished noteworthy success in recent memory. Women’s hockey secured their seventh national championship and women’s volleyball is fresh off of a Final Four appearance, to name a few.

The Crazylegs Classic shines light on all of those athletics through exercise with a bunch of happy Badgers.

“I love races like this, where everyone is there for a purpose,” Sanger said about the environment of the Crazylegs Classic. “There’s people who all love Madison … so it’s cool to share a lot of the same viewpoints.”

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