The Finish

THE FINISH • will be equally as exciting as the start as we experience the Blugold mile and witness new enhancements to the UWEC campus. As runners exit campus via the foot bridge, they will begin to SEE and HEAR the Finish Line Celebration awaiting on Graham Avenue. We envision the Owen Park Area along First Avenue to be packed with people enjoying picnics and children playing on the fabulous kids area. As the runners cross Lake Street Bridge, (yes another new bridge) then turn North on Graham, the view of the Finish Line surrounded by the many enhancements as well as old town treasures, our Downtown Area will SHINE and WELCOME our runners HOME!! #runEC

The Start

THE START • As we, over the years, have developed this course, it focuses on emphasizing the beauty of the city, particularly it’s bridges and rivers, and our new start certainly embraces that!! 

When you stand on the Madison Street Bridge and look North and South, the view of the river is spectacular. From a runner standpoint, it will trigger many emotions which all are tied to your task at hand. It suggests POWER but at the same time reminds us of PERSISTENCE and CALMNESS. 

Our course re-design was not taken lightly and we think the changes will enhance not only the runners but spectators experience as well. Centering around the Phoenix Park Area, spectators will be able to witness runners as they start, as they loop through early on in the race as well as before they head down Barstow and again as they finish..... THAT significantly enhances the runners experience!! #runec

(official maps will be released after the course is re-certified)

Marathon readies for move downtown

Leader Telegram: Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Eau Claire Marathon’s newly approved downtown-centered course also will bring earlier race start times and more convenient parking when it returns on May 3, according to event organizers.

Moving away from its traditional home in Carson Park, the annual race will have its start and finish lines near Phoenix Park, a switch approved Tuesday afternoon in a 10-0 vote of the City Council with Councilwoman Jill Christopherson absent.

“Some of the logistical aspects of this make it a stronger race,” said Councilman Jeremy Gragert, who ran the half marathon race in 2015.

He appreciated the elimination of the old course’s uphill finish into Carson Park, instead using flatter roads around downtown.

The event’s three courses — the 26.2-mile full marathon, 13.1-mile half marathon and 5-kilometer race — will all start on the Madison Street bridge next year and finish on Graham Avenue next to the Pablo Center at the Confluence.

Gragert brought forth a constituent’s concern that the changing route could hinder people from attending Sunday church services near the race routes, namely downtown and in the Randall Park neighborhood.

Marathon executive director Pat Toutant said earlier start times next year will avoid interfering with church services in those areas, with runners passing by before or after those congregations’ services.

The full marathon will start at 7 a.m. next year — 30 minutes earlier than this year’s race. The half marathon will start at 8:15 a.m. — a full hour before this year’s start. And the five-kilometer race will begin at 9:15 a.m. — 15 minutes earlier than prior years.

With two downtown ramps, city lots and parking spaces volunteered by Mayo Clinic Health System and UW-Eau Claire, the event believes it will not need to provide buses to remote parking as it did when it was based in Carson Park.

“We hope to eliminate shuttling,” Toutant said.

Leah Ness, deputy city engineer, said the Chippewa Valley Technical College parking lot used in prior years by the marathon has about 1,000 spaces. Parking availability would about double that at the downtown site, Ness said, between public parking and the private lots that race organizers are securing through agreements so racers and spectators can use them.

Though shuttles aren’t expected to be needed for parking next year, Toutant said buses will still be used to get marathon relay competitors to the starting lines for their legs of the race.

Before reaching the City Council, the marathon’s organizers held multiple meetings with a special events committee and addressed concerns raised about traffic congestion, parking availability and accessibility for emergency vehicles. On June 5, that committee signed off on the marathon’s move downtown.

“With their recommendation, they felt comfortable that it can be done downtown with a very safe result,” community services director Jeff Pippenger said.

More than a month before the race, event organizers will hang doorhangers to remind them of the marathon’s impact on traffic in their area, Toutant said.

“We know we cause inconvenience from a traffic standpoint, but we’ve become very diligent about announcing our race,” he said.

Councilwoman Emily Berge, who has run the full marathon before, commended the race organizers for getting consent from numerous downtown businesses for the course change before seeking the council’s approval.

“I can tell all the work they’ve done,” she said.

New Course, New Times.....

On Sunday at the start of the Eau Claire Marathon races, Race Director announced changes for 2020!
New Course....
New Times.....
and the best news of all: No Carson Park Hill!

The Eau Claire Marathon Team is working hard to finalize plans with the City of Eau Claire and hope to announce the new course mid-summer 2019.

Post Race Block Pricing for 2020 sold out and we are anxiously awaiting registration to reopen in the Fall 2019.

Have any questions regarding 2020, feel free to email us at info@eauclairemarathon.com

Wisconsin’s charming Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls are just the ticket for a day trip

An easy 90-minute drive from the Twin Cities, Eau Claire, Wis., offers an affordable, approachable retreat. A day trip here includes shops and restaurants with their own unique, independent flair.

Here are suggestions for where to shop fashion, home and gifts as well as where to eat and play. For a stop on your way to Eau Claire or for a second day of shopping and fun, we've added destinations in nearby Chippewa Falls, Wis.

 

SHOP EAU CLAIRE: BARSTOW STREET

Start on Barstow Street, where the majority of shops are located. On the east side of Barstow, you'll find Chippewa Valley Floral featuring flowers, accessories and gift items. Next door, Tangled Up in Hue art collective represents more than 100 artists and emphasizes local and handmade art in its large selection of gifts, fashion apparel and art. Affordable yet quality pieces include knits, T-shirts, kids clothing, pottery and soaps. The wide-ranging jewelry offerings are a standout. Artists' receptions and musical performances are held the first Friday each month. On the next block, look closer and you'll find the ArtBoxxSalon & Co. building houses Nik's Knacks, a shop featuring hats and accessories.

Running enthusiasts won't want to miss a stop at Blue Ox Running for gear and accessories. Continue north to the end of the block to Raggedy Man, a gift shop with a hipster vibe that offers unique, fun, affordable gifts for a variety of occasions, from weddings to baby showers and birthdays to housewarming gifts.

The Masonic Building on the corner of Barstow and Main streets is home to a store that appreciates history - the multi-level Antique Emporium. Well-preserved serving sets, home accessories, furniture, books, records and other flashback finds are among the countless offerings. Statuary and artwork are especially unique. Shop more artwork at B-Framed Galleries, spotlighting a mix of local and international artists in media such as sculpture, photography and 3-D art. Custom-framing services are also available. Down the block, Pedals Music shop is the go-to place for new and vintage music equipment and accessories.

Cross to the other side of Barstow Street where several more shops can be found. First, you'll come across Silver Feather, featuring Native American handcrafted jewelry and other items such as apparel and dreamcatchers. Silver Feather is now closed and will reopen again in the spring. Next door, Revival Records offers a sizable mix of well-curated new and used vinyl records in a variety of genres. There's also a stage for live music performances. Continue to the next block to The Calico Shoppe, a quilt and fabric store with yarn, books, fabric and patterns. Don't miss the adjoining The Purple Petunia floral and gift shop for selected jewelry, hats, serving ware and home decor from around the world.

On Barstow Street, just past Main Street, Blue Boxer Arts offers supplies such as beads and yarn for your art and crafting needs. It's all about fun, relaxation and reflection at The Hatch, where everything from stones and incense to skateboards and sundresses can be found. At the edge of downtown, Brent Douglas Flowers is a place to shop flowers and gifts.

Beyond Barstow Street, a few more shops dot downtown. Art and wine lovers find their happy place at 200 Main Art & Wine, where you can pour your own vino from one of the wine dispensers and shop fine art and handcrafted pieces in the gallery featuring local and regional artists. Not too far away, Shift Cyclery & Coffee Bar does double duty as a bike/coffeeshop. Off Gibson Street, Hello Adorn, featuring fine handmade jewelry, doesn't hold regular store hours. However, whenever the owners and artists are at work in their studio, passers-by are welcome to come in and shop the displays on hand.

SHOP EAU CLAIRE: OFF THE BEATEN PATH 

Outside of downtown, a few shopping hubs are worth mentioning:

The Galloway District a few blocks away is home to some shops on North Dewey Street. Visit The Local Store, where you might be able to check everyone off your gift-giving list, thanks to the large variety carried here. Pieces include clothing, bar accessories, bath and body items, candles, home decor, posters and prints as well as kitchen pieces. A block away, Red's Mercantile is a well-curated boutique touting artisans and makers. The spot carries a range of fashion pieces - clothing, jewelry, scarves and purses - as well as gift items for babies and adults alike, home accessories and personal care items.

A few blocks away, you'll find several shops at Banbury Place in Building 13, a multi-story edifice housing several different businesses including vintage shops, artists' studios and galleries. Thursday is a great time to head here because that is when most of the studios and businesses are open. Art lovers may also want to drive over to Artisan Forge Studios, a two-story location with a shop, art gallery and studios that spotlight dozens of artists in a variety of media.

In addition to the Galloway District, consider a few unique boutiques in the Water Street District. Willow on Water is a place to score home decor, fancy gift items, fashion accessories, bath and body items, candles and a large selection of cards. Brands include Thyme, Voluspa and Lollia. On the next block, Details fashion boutique is where to head for luxe clothing from designers around the world. Next, make your way to Avalon Floral flower and gift shop. Seasonal and home decor, bath and body items, jewelry, kitchen accents, baby clothes and books are just some of the pieces at this shop offering a wide selection.

EAT EAU CLAIRE

When it's time to eat, there are several spots to dine in downtown Eau Claire. Here are 10 recommendations to get you started. Some even double as music destinations.

On the more casual side, The Acoustic Cafe has long been a hot spot for a variety of reasons. The spot roasts its own coffee beans and bakes bread daily so coffee and sandwiches are as fresh as can be. Then there's the cafe's reputation for hosting a great selection of live musical acts. Another popular spot for coffee is Shift Cyclery & Coffee Bar carrying not only java, but tea, baked goods, wraps and waffles. As mentioned earlier, the spot also houses a bike repair and accessories shop.

The daily lunch special of two large slices of pizza, soup or salad, breadsticks and soda is a popular draw at The Plus. Burgers, wraps, soups and salad also make up the menu. Comedy and live music nights are also featured at this restaurant and entertainment venue.

For Asian fare, Ninja Japanese and Chinese Restaurant is a popular spot for its wide-ranging menu. If it's Thai food you're craving, Rice Palace might be just the ticket. For a supper club feel, head to Houligans Steak & Seafood Pub for casual dishes like burgers and fancy meals such as steak and seafood.

Speaking of a fancier fare, The Lakely in the Oxbow Hotel is a place to enjoy craft cocktails and regional fare including burgers, steak and fish from renowned chef Nathan Berg. The trout salad is not to be missed. There's also plenty of live jazz on most evenings and the weekend during brunch. The boutique hotel is co-owned by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, who has been known to make surprise appearances and perform at the restaurant and bar. Speaking of hotel restaurants, the contemporary The Informalist in the Lismore Hotel features a menu of burgers and wood-fired pizzas with a farm-to-table approach where ingredients are sourced regionally. Also downtown, there's The Rev tasting room and market, where wine and beer tastings are enjoyed with small plates. 

While outside of downtown, it's worth mentioning one of the hottest restaurants around town. Mona Lisa's is a cozy eatery with a wine bar that attracts a crowd for its reliable, yet seasonally changing menu of Italian fare and primo wine list.

PLAY EAU CLAIRE

Beyond the live music scene at various restaurants and entertainment centers downtown, there are several options for spending your leisure time. We recommend Pablo Center at the Confluence for taking in performing, literary and visual arts in a top-notch facility that includes a theater, galleries and a gift shop. There's also the Children's Museum of Eau Claire to stir the creative juices of the little ones. 

SHOP CHIPPEWA FALLS

While on your way to Eau Claire, a stop in Chippewa Falls is worth considering. Home of Leinenkugel Brewing Company, the town offers other hot spots to explore.

If it's shopping you're looking for, the majority of shops are dotted along Bridge Street in downtown. Start on the northern end, where you'll come across Eevy Ivy Over Floral and Vicki's Frame Shop. The store offers clothes, jewelry, scarves, purses, hair accessories, you name it - as well as framing services. Next, make your way to Valley Art Gallery for items from local artists. Shop art and gifts including jewelry, pottery and paintings here.

Bargain hunters won't want to miss Mason Outlet Store for quality and top-name brands in footwear at deep discounts. Brands such as North Face, Columbia, Keen and Born are up to 80 percent off regular retail prices.

On the next block, the expansive Country Treasures - Hallmark carries a little bit of everything, including seasonal and home decor, kitchen gadgets, women's apparel and gift items. Grab a card and wrapping paper from the store's extensive collection. Next, wander the various rooms at Foreign 5 and browse the merchandise - from women's clothing, gift items and flowers to wine, chocolates, local cheeses and sausage. Downstairs, wedding apparel and accessories can be found.

Not too far away, shop fashion apparel, gifts for a variety of occasions as well as home decor and furniture at The Bird Nest. Last but not least, the spacious 4,000-square-foot Lacey's Lingerie with its multiple themed rooms offers plenty of specialty pieces. The boutique is known for carrying mastectomy wear, including lingerie and swimwear, as well as a selection of shapewear, plus-size, bridal, maternity and everyday lingerie.

Off Bridge Street is Collective Charm, where beer enthusiasts will find brewery memorabilia and antiques lovers will find collectibles, furniture and more. The store also offers restoration services for light fixtures.

EAT AND DRINK CHIPPEWA FALLS

Whether for a bite to eat or to quench your thirst, here are 10 places in Chippewa Falls to consider:

For casual fare, Lucy's Delicatessen in the Foreign 5 building downtown offers pastries, breakfast items, soups, salads, sandwiches and pizzas as well as meats and cheeses. Also downtown, Casa Mexicana  serves up a range of Mexican fare from tacos and enchiladas to fajitas and seafood in a festive setting. Jalisco-style dishes can be found here, too. Nearby, Mahli Thai is putting a contemporary spin on Thai cuisine that includes curries, stir-fries and noodle dishes.

For something more formal downtown, head to Wissota Chophouse, a destination for steaks, chops, seafood and more. Also on the chef-driven circuit, Max's Bistro and Bar emphasizes seasonally and locally sourced ingredients on its extensive menu. Treat yourself at Sheeley House Saloon, where burgers, pasta, steak and fish are among the menu items.

A few steps from Sheeley House Saloon, grab a drink at Chippewa River Distillery & Brewster Bros. Brewing Co., a cocktail and tap room emphasizing locally sourced ingredients. Chippewa Falls is the headquarters of Leinenkugel's, so it's no surprise a popular destination beyond the downtown is the Leinie Lodge, where you can tour the brewery and take in the rich history of the brand. Beer tastings hosted on-site are also a popular draw.

If it's a snack or something sweet you're looking for, Chippewa Candy Shop downtown should fill that craving, thanks to the selection of chocolates, retro candies and even soft-serve ice cream. Not too far away is Olson's Ice Cream, scooping up a wide selection of ice cream made in house. A deli menu of salads, wraps, sandwiches and burgers is also available.

BibRave Award: Beautiful On-Course Scenery

BibRave Award: Beautiful On-Course Scenery

https://www.bibrave.com/thebibrave100/2018/beautiful-on-course-scenery?fbclid=IwAR1sqxkFcmLJc-ZGQA3Y8l7F7G4NqwHfM-qMjxsRUCeUTaLynsqLqgnu9bA#.XEDzTKRMGaM

 If you're going to run 26.2 miles (or 13.1) why not go gorgeous?!? Beautiful On-Course Scenery was the #1 nominated category for "What makes this race great" for The BibRave 100 in 2018. When you look at the list, it's everything from ocean views to Fall foliage, trails, and mountains. If you're thinking of your next race-cation, these beautiful destinations are definitely worth a look! 

 https://www.bibrave.com/thebibrave100/2018/beautiful-on-course-scenery/eau-claire-half-marathon

Luy wins third straight EC Marathon title, sets new course record

Mike Klees - Leader Telegram

With a hilly course and a naked sun bearing down, David Luy knew his goal of hitting the U.S. Olympic Trial standard was a pretty big ask.

But the 26-year-old from Brookfield gave it a go and then some Sunday at the Eau Claire Marathon.

"It was probably the hardest last 10 kilometers I've ever raced," Luy said.

In the end, Luy fell about four minutes shy of the Trial standard, although his consolation prize - a third straight Eau Claire Marathon title and a new course record - wasn't too shabby.

Luy finished in 2 hours, 23 minutes, 9 seconds, trimming 2:48 off his then-record-setting time last year and nearly 10 minutes off his winning time from 2016.

"I gave it pretty much everything I had, so I can be peaceful tonight going to bed knowing that I didn't leave anything out there."

Tammi Braund of Cushing, who set the women's course record in her 2015 victory, won the women's title in 3:20:39. The 39-year-old mother of six, who coincidentally has six marathon wins under her belt, was coming off a busy recent running schedule, including the Boston Marathon last month. Sunday's win came as a big surprise.

"I never expected to finish where I did," she said.

Menomonie's Amanda Molback was second, seven minutes back.

The half-marathon title went to 31-year-old Brent Kann of Eau Claire. The former Blugolds All-American and decorated area runner defended his title from last year in 1:12:44 to win by four minutes over Minneapolis' Jared Gentemen, who was third a year ago.

Elk Mound's Stephanie Cloutier was the women's champ in 1:25:20, edging a fellow former Blugolds All-American, Lucy Ramquist of River Falls, by nearly four minutes. Eau Claire's Rebekka Dow, last year's winner, was third.

In the 5K, Madison's Kevin Hall, 31, obliterated the course record in 15:39, besting Dan LaCroix's record time from last year by two minutes. St. Paul's Karina Taylor, 32, did the same on the women's side, winning in 20:32 - 41 seconds faster than the previous mark.

But for the third year in a row though, Luy was the main attraction. He bested the runner-up, Blue Ox Running owner Adam Condit, by more 11 minutes. It was another 20 minutes back to the rest of the pack.

With the big goal, he knew he had to put it down a little harder than the past two years, so Sunday was the biggest struggle of his three wins.

"I was just going to try to set it up with a really strong first half, going out kind of conservative cause it's so hilly in the first half, and just put myself in position to be able to control it from there," Luy said.

"I still felt pretty good halfway through, but it started getting warmer when the sun started cooking and I definitely missed a lot of water. ... I just don't think I was ready for this kind of temperature this early on."

Luy said the Trial standard is his ultimate goal for the year, so it might have been a bit early to go for it, but he wanted to see where he was at and the Eau Claire course offers some a unique challenge.

"It technically shouldn't be a super-fast course," he said, "but I think it gives you a chance to use different muscles, and it's almost nice not to have to run completely flat the whole time, cause you get to fire quads when you're going up, drop the arms on the downhills. It's a lot more like cross country, and I think it's really good strength-building right now for me."

The rest of his summer will be mostly triathlon-based training before ramping it up again for Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon in October. That's a course that may be more suited to take the next step toward his ultimate goal - lining up for an Olympic shot in Febrauary 2020 in Atlanta.

"If the wind is good … you're going flat or downhill the whole way, so that should be a good one to go for it," Luy said.

Florida woman runs Eau Claire Marathon in memory of her late father

Many competitive runners travel from out of state to participate in the Eau Claire Marathon, but a Florida woman says she's running for reasons that have nothing to do with breaking her personal record. Tajma Hall WEAU shares her story.

http://www.weau.com/content/news/Florida-woman-runs-Eau-Claire-Marathon-in-memory-of-her-late-father-481876761.html

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Many competitive runners travel from out of state to participate in the Eau Claire Marathon, but a Florida woman says she's running for reasons that have nothing to do with breaking her personal record.

With 12 marathons under her belt, Christina Wood of Orlando, Florida is no stranger to competitive running. Christina wants to run a marathon in each of the 50 states but as she races to the finish line for the first time in the state of Wisconsin, she has a different motivation in mind...her late father.

"When I was in college he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a very, very ugly aggressive disease. About 18, months later, he passed away. It was a really difficult time," said Wood.

Christina's Father, Arthur "Buzz" Luhm spent 21 years in the U.S. Marines. He was born and raised in Eau Claire and his mother Joyce Luhm, 90, still lives in the area. "Eau Claire was always home for him and home for us growing up so this is a very special town."

She says Eau Claire holds a special place in her heart which is why she decided to honor her father by running in the 10th Annual Eau Claire marathon. "It's kind of therapeutic for me. I feel a way to soak in, you know where he grew up and where he came from," said Wood.

Christina's family is also in town to show support. Christina's mother, Dolores Luhm traveled from North Carolina to see her daughter cross the finish line in her late husband's home town and on the day that would have been his 64th birthday.

"I know he's so proud of you," Dolores said to Christine after the race. Christina says she promised her father she would honor him and to live a life that would make him proud. She says her dad inspired her to become a runner. "He was just a very passionate outdoorsman and loved being outside." She says running became her way of connecting with her father after he was gone.

With nearly 5,000 participants, organizers say each and every one of them is running with a purpose. "If you look around here, most everybody has got something it their head and there's some really significant stories," said Pat Toutant, Eau Claire Marathon Co-Director. 

Jeanne Forster, Christina's Aunt participated in the marathon's 5K walk/run and was there to cheer for Christina. "Buzz is in the back of her mind all of the time and every time she finishes a race, she's thankful to her dad," said Forster

"You'll see a lot of tears at the finish line," said Toutant before the race began and tears were falling as Christina finished the 26.2 mile race. 

She says her father's memory got her through it. "I felt him the whole way through, we talked the whole way through…Happy Birthday to him. I know he's smiling down on me," she said.

#everysinglestreetEC

I got hooked on running after my first cross country race at age 14. Since then, there have been highs, lows, ups, downs, and a retirement or two, but I always seem to find my way back to the sport I find so cathartic. 

After landing in Eau Claire in the fall of 2016 I decided to (again) come out of running retirement and sign up for the 5k of the Eau Claire Marathon. I didn't realize just how much the town comes alive that weekend. I toed the starting line expecting your standard 5k experience, but this race was different. There was a sense of competitiveness in the air, but everyone involved was just genuinely excited to be there. The moment I crossed the finish line, I knew I would come back next year. I initially had my sights set on the half, but ended up making a snap decision to sign up for the full - my first 26.2 right here in Eau Claire.

I had no idea what to expect on race day, but when the gun went off, that magical Eau Claire Marathon Energy was back in full force. Our little city on the river definitely knows how to bring it. The staff and spectators were so kind: rooting for all runners every step of the way, and were genuinely invested in providing a fantastic race experience. I crossed the finish line a bit slower than I hoped, but I don't think I even made it out of the parking lot before I decided to come back in 2019. 

As I prepare to take on the marathon again this year, one of my goals is to run every single street in Eau Claire (#everysinglestreetec). I love Eau Claire and feel very connected to this city. This is a cool way to get out and explore seeing it through a different perspective. I'm running different routes and loops around town and tracking them using heat maps and a giant physical map provided by the city of Eau Claire. This project will make May 5th extra special as I eye up a Boston Qualifying time and feel the energy of an entire city cheering through #everysinglestreetec.
-Jake

Run to Me: Twin Cities Couple Get Engaged at Eau Claire Marathon Finish Line

Sean Kelsey crossed the finish line Sunday, completing the Eau Claire Marathon in 4 hours, 54 seconds. The South St. Paul, Minn., resident immediately dropped to a knee, fumbled in his pocket and pulled out an engagement ring. He then proposed to his girlfriend, Dana Banitt.

"I got down on one knee, and fell on my butt," Kelsey said with a laugh.

Banitt, 28, had completed the half-marathon in 1:55:38, and she waited in the finishing chute for about 15 minutes, watching for Kelsey to come around a corner and complete his first-ever marathon.

Banitt's whole family was there - they knew a wedding proposal was coming. They had traveled from Cannon Falls, Minn., southeast of St. Paul, but Banitt didn't find that unusual.

"They all come to watch my sporting events, so I had no idea," she said. "But they all knew."

Kelsey, 30, had a shirt specially made for the day. On the front, it read "miles to go until I propose."

"I had little boxes on it," Kelsey said. "So every mile, I crossed out a box with a Sharpie. And on the back, it read, 'Will you marry me?' When my GPS went off, I pulled out the marker and crossed it off."

Banitt, a first-grade teacher in Richfield, Minn., hadn't seen the shirt that morning; Kelsey concealed it by wearing a long-sleeve shirt to the start line; then he tossed it aside at the last moment before the race started.

"I was worried she'd be on to me," he said.

Even as Kelsey approached the finish line, Banitt admits she didn't read the shirt.

"I still had no clue," she said with a laugh. "I hadn't seen it on him. I just went over and wanted to give him a hug."

So Banitt was a little surprised when Kelsey pulled out the ring and proposed. She immediately said yes. Their engagement was witnessed by multiple people at the finish line, family members and strangers alike.

The couple met with a dating website and have been together for 1½ years. They both enjoy running and outdoors activities.

"Exercise is a huge part of our lives," Kelsey said. "We're always talking about what races we have coming up and what injuries we're overcoming."

Kelsey, a manager at the Supervalu distribution center in Hopkins, Minn., said he came up with the wedding proposal idea last fall while watching the Twin Cities Marathon. He began thinking about when he wanted to propose to Banitt, and he began looking for a spring marathon date. That's how the couple wound up running in Eau Claire.

"I signed up, knowing I'd propose at the end," Kelsey said.

Banitt threw him a curveball by deciding to run the half-marathon as well. Kelsey wasn't sure where Banitt would be when he finished the race; she could have been in the crowd, or she could have still been on the course.

"I was a little nervous about the timing," he said.

It worked out perfectly, however, with Banitt's family keeping her in place for the surprise proposal.

Eau Claire Marathon race director Pat Toutant was thrilled when he heard about the engagement.

"We wish them all the best," Toutant said. "We are complimented they would choose our event to do this. We're honored."

No wedding date has been set, but they are thinking summer 2018. They do have one date marked on their calendar, though - next year's Eau Claire Marathon.

"It's got to be an annual tradition," Banitt said.

http://www.leadertelegram.com/News/Front-Page/2017/05/10/Run-to-me.html