It Keeps You Running

EC Marathon turns 10 with no plans of slowing down

Samantha Kobs, photos by Kelsey Smith |

KEEPING THE RUNNER’S FEET POUNDING AND THE SPECTATOR’S HEARTS POUNDING. Get ready to cheer on the Eau Claire Marathon on Sunday, May 6.
KEEPING THE RUNNER’S FEET POUNDING AND THE SPECTATOR’S HEARTS POUNDING. Get ready to cheer on the Eau Claire Marathon on Sunday, May 6.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of one of Eau Claire’s most exciting events: the Eau Claire Marathon. On Sunday, May 6, entire streets will be shut down and taken over by a flash mob of over 4,700 (and counting) self-disciplined and determined athletes. For many, it will be a chance to complete the race for the first time or perhaps break personal records. These runners are lucky – they’ve got miles and miles of scenic bike trails and bridges awaiting them on race day. To top it all off, they have an incredible community that loves to show its support.

And yet running marathons isn’t for everyone. Your Average Joe isn’t waking up at 5am to do hill sprints or missing Sunday brunch for 15-mile training runs. In fact, Average Joe is probably being reluctantly dragged along to the race or perhaps has no idea it’s even happening. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Marathons are about the community just as much as they are about the runners. There are plenty of ways for non-runners to get involved AND have fun while doing it.


Volunteering is never a bad thing. It’s good for the conscience, and it benefits others. The Eau Claire Marathon is always looking for people to lend a helping hand, and you can do so in just about any way. Before the race, volunteers are needed to help direct traffic or operate the packet pick-up or gear tent in Carson Park. Once the race starts, runners count on volunteers to hand them water, GU packets, or bananas to keep them energized. If that’s not your thing, consider helping with cleanup after the event or simply standing at a corner and waving runners in the right direction. All of these things are necessary when operating a marathon, and the runners couldn’t do it without the help of community volunteers. (To learn more about volunteering, visit and click on “Get Involved” and then “Volunteers.”)


Then just cheer! Any runner will tell you that the crowds of random strangers smiling and supporting them are what keep them going. Non-runners can stand essentially anywhere along the courses and support the athletes with music, cartwheels, cowbells, dance moves, and signs. This year, the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire and Blue Ox Running will offer free sign-making stations. A quick Google search will provide plenty of hilarious (and sometimes inappropriate) sign ideas, such as “Worst Parade Ever” or “May The Course Be With You.” If you are doubtful of your own artistic abilities, scrap the sign and just stand there with your hand out for high-fives. It’s as simple as that.


Eau Claire is known for its food and music scenes, and the race day is no exception. Valleybrook Church will offer live music (and pancakes!) as part of the Barstow Block Party. There will also be an array of food trucks, including The Marigold, Brew Pub Pizza, Davis Dogs, Holy Donuts, The Hubb, and more. The Blugold Mile on the UW-Eau Claire campus is always bumpin’ with its pep and marching band and large crowds of student supporters. The Water Street Mile will offer hits from I-94 and Greatest Hits 98.1 as well as funky reggae/jazz/rock by the Twin Cities/Eau Claire band Irie Sol. You can even take a quick pit stop at the beer tent at Fifth Avenue and Water Street and try to snag some of the free giveaways. If you prefer playing music over listening to it, here’s some good news: Local musicians are invited to bring along their own instruments and play along the course for the runners, too – the options are endless!


It is important that events like this are inclusive of the little humans that we hold so dear – the same little humans who aren’t always easy to entertain for hours while other family members and friends are running the races. Luckily, you have options. The Children’s Museum of Eau Claire is offering free admission during the race for anybody who is coming in support of the runners. They will be offering “get up and go” activities for children as well as the Imagination Playground blue blocks area (aka happily distracted children for hours). If that’s not enough, those with children can spend some time at the Kids’ Zone in Carson Park from 10am-2pm, which includes inflatables, face painting, and more.

So yeah, you may not be setting a PR on May 6 (or even know what a PR is), but that doesn’t mean that you’re not an integral part of the Eau Claire Marathon culture. Whether you’re playing a trumpet on a street corner, handing out water, or simply groovin’ on Water Street, community members are important for the success of the athletes. You’ve got 4,700 people counting on you this year – don’t let them down!