The fun run is usually held on the 2nd Saturday of November. There is no registration. Runners line up around noon at the Arrow Building Center, 500 East Park, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin (formerly Crane Lumber). They finish about 14 miles later in Riverview Park in Cadott. A sag wagon follows the runners and a shuttle back to the start is provided.
The course heads east from Chippewa Falls, next to the Chippewa River along the rolling hills of County Hwy J. It passes into the rural, residential neighborhoods south of Lake Wissota after crossing County Hwy X by Gordy's. There are hills, woods and some new residential developments. By the tank farms, the course enters the rural, and relatively flat and empty countryside between Chippewa Falls and Cadott. Once in Cadott, the runners treated to the city cemetery where you can count your blessings, and a march down the Main Street of Cadott to Riverside Park.
(click to enlarge)
Start of the 1984 race
run, with its long and varied history, has been held together by Karen
Possley for years, if not decades. It has used various aliases: the Great
Race, the Run for Your Life, R
and R and Trot to Cadott. The first
running of the Great Race was organized by the Chippewa Herald Telegram
in October, 1965. Later, Steve Rogstad and Smokey Rykal (R and
R) took over. The traditional course, with
modifications and without a clock, has continued to be run run by a few
ITC members, at the insistence of Karen Possley. She nicknamed the
event, The Trot to Cadott.
Karen Possley gave her history of the event in in her September, 2010 newsletter article. The race was started in 1964 by Korger-Chestnut teacher, Terry Wiseman. Principal, Gertrude Korger, was always there to cheer the kids on and start the runners, using her father’s watch. She would bring a stool to perch on, wearing a knit cap and slacks under her dress in cooler weather. As legend has it, Butch Cardinal challenged his physical education students and football players to get in shape. The challenge was to run from Chippewa Falls to Cadott — in one day. That’s a lot to ask high school students. This was during President Kennedy’s administration and was held as part of the Presidential Fitness Challenge started by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The kids who took the challenge were going to run from what was Crane Lumber on County J to the bowling alley in Cadott.
Karen remembered participating in this event in 1984 as the Great Race, on its 20th anniversary. Back then it went straight down County J to County X, all the way to Cadott for a distance of about 12.9 miles. "I wasn’t up to running the distance in 1985, but cheered on runners as they passed the end of the street I lived on. The next time I participated, we ran to Riverview Park, making the course a little longer. That was the first year I ran the course that Smokey Rykal and Steve Rogstad had taken over, now calling the event the R and R. Without the promotion and support of the Chippewa Herald, the numbers were down. I was the only female, and there were three males, one being one of the race directors When I ran the R and R the next time, it was a much fancier ado. Steve and Smokey got sponsorship from Leinenkugel’s, Pope and Talbot and other area businesses. When we got to the park, we were treated to a fire, brats, beer and door prizes. That was the year I won a paper products package door prize from Pope and Talbot, very handy when you have a couple toddlers. Being the first female (out of few), I also won the grand prize for a stay at the AmericInn. After several years, R and R gave up the event. But having a fondness for streaks and tradition, a few of my friends made sure that this event would not die. The standard starting time, place and date were maintained: noon, Crane Lumber, second Saturday in October. Without the Internet or funding for publicity, word of mouth and phone calls only achieved minimal participation, but it was still an event. Even if we resorted to a relay with three of us passing the baton off at Bateman Tavern, the event continued. The course was altered when there was construction on County X, a relief to some to avoid the traffic. We ran from County J down to 50th Avenue, all the way to Riverside Drive. This added a couple miles to the course, but the marathon runners were already up to that challenge. Others took a ride in the sag wagon, rode their bikes, roller skied or had someone pick them up on the course."
Bad ‘moon’ rising?
One of the regular runners of the Six Pack (that loosely organized branch of the ITC) couldn’t make it one year. They made up for it with a picture for a calendar they made for his 50th birthday. For the month of October, the missing member was treated to a “moon” schedule, including waning, full, new and partial, all lined up along the running course. That year the event ended with a pot luck dinner at the park. Karen's sister from California drove the sag wagon, and seriously questioned the sanity of the running group.
New date selected.
Despite various means of enticement, such as promising food, drink and hot-tubbing, numbers were still dwindling, so looking at the fall marathon season, we altered tradition by switching the date to the second Saturday in November.
In front row are the 1984 division winners Larry Schrofe, Pat Leonard and Jerry Thomas.
In back are Dennis McGraw, Patty Schruve and Bill Roege