In this June 23, 2018 file photo, Connor Ahrens (779) and Drew Bolder (760) lead the pack during the YMCA Hodag Run for Your Life 5K in Rhinelander. This year’s Hodag Run takes place Saturday and will feature a slightly altered route from last season. (Jeremy Mayo/River News)
This graphic, courtesy of the YMCA of the Northwoods, shows the route for the 2019 YMCA Hodag Run for Your Life, which will take place Saturday in Rhinelander. The route features a change in the first mile of the race, utilizing Curran and Anne streets, and takes the 10K race on Manor Road, instead of north on River Road.
6/20/2019 7:30:00 AM Tweaks made for YMCA's Hodag Run Saturday's event to feature slightly altered route, different start times
The YMCA of the Northwoods continues to make small tweaks to the annual Hodag Run for Your Life in an effort to make the event bigger and better for those who participate.
The 2019 version, set to go off Saturday on Rhinelander's north side, is no exception.
This year, organizers scrapped the half-marathon portion of the race and tweaked the 5K and 10K routes to provide a more scenic Northwoods experience for the hundreds of runners set to leave the starting line from Hodag Park.
That's the biggest change for this year's race. Instead of taking the 10K up River Road and past the Hodag Country Fest grounds in the town of Pine Lake, the route will cut behind Rhinelander Country Club on Manor Road before turning around and making its way back to the start/finish line at Hodag Park.
"This year we figured since we don't have a half (marathon) we would try and make it a loop course for the 10K. That Manor (Road) was just kind of perfect for 6.2 miles," said Stephanie Ruckheim, the Senior Director of Wellness and Community Initiatives at the Y. "It's a little more scenic, to showcase our Northwoods."
Saturday will be the 13th running of the race, which is co-organized by the Y and the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce and serves as a fundraiser for the YMCA's Annual Support Campaign.
There will be something for runners young and old, with 5 and 10K races, a 5K stroller division with nine separate age groups ranging from 13 and under to 80 and over. There is also the annual kids' Chase the Hodag fun run at the end of the event.
"For the last couple of years since I've been here, say the last five years, we've grown participants," Ruckheim said. "We've gained some, we've lost some, but still strong event for the community."
According to last year's race results, 170 runners took part in the Hodag Run. Ruckheim said she anticipates around 200 for this year's event and notes that runners can sign up all the way up to the morning of the race.
With a little help from Mother Nature - though the forecast calls for a chance of showers, race-time temperature is expected to be pleasant in the upper 50s to low 60s - Ruckheim said she hopes for a strong walk-up crowd. Day-of registration will take place from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. at the Hodag Park beach house.
"We can have anywhere from like 20 to 30 people register the day of say just if the weather's nice they come up for the area see it's happening, or just local families or individuals are looking for something to do because the weather's nice they come and partake," she said.
The 10K is scheduled to begin at 8:30, with the 5K set to go off shortly thereafter. All the runners will head from the beachhouse out of Hodag Park onto Monico Street. Unlike the past couple of years where runners ran the length of Eagle Street, they will take a quick left on Curran Street, then on to Anne Street before getting back on Eagle for the run to County Highway W.
Once on W, the field will run over the bridge out of the city limits before turning onto Lakeview Drive. The 5K field will turn around at Lakeview and River Road and head back toward the finish, while the 10K runners will hop briefly onto River Road, before turning left on to Manor Road to run their extra 3.1 miles.
Commuters taking the backroads into or out of Rhinelander on the race route are reminded to be on the lookout for runners on race day.
"We're hoping to have some police presence there and lots of volunteers so we can help with the traffic and making sure the traffic is obeying the speed limit or slower," Ruckheim said.
While runners are on the course, kids will have plenty to keep them entertained back at Hodag Park as the Y will run a kids' carnival in conjunction with the race from 8 to 11 a.m.
"We get games from the Children's Learning Center," Ruckheim said, referencing the Y's child care facility for kids from 6 weeks to 7 years old. "We have The Home Depot there. We will have the Army there and a couple of other people there to have some fun with the kids."
At 10 a.m., kids 12 and under will have the chance take part in the Chase the Hodag race which, as the name suggest, has kids running an abbreviated course inside Hodag Park in an effort to chase - or beat - the Hodag mascot.
"There are some (kids) that are like, 'Oh, I'm gonna win and I'm gonna beat that Hodag,'" Ruckheim quipped.
There is no advance registration for the Kids Chase the Hodag, which is presented by the Rhinelander Kiwanis. Kids may register for the race from 7:30 to 10 a.m. the day of the race. The first 200 registered will receive a free Chase the Hodag T-Shirt.
Saturday's 10K race is sponsored by Habush, Habush and Rottier, and the 5K is sponsored by Superior Diesel. Additional sponsors include Aspirus, Cellcom, Central Wisconsin Insurance Associates, CoVantage Credit Union, Peoples State Bank, A-1 Septic, Rhinelander Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, New Radio Group Northwoods, Vital Industries, Kohl's and Hildebrand-Russ Funeral Home.
Ruckheim said the event raises $10-15,000 annually for Y's support campaign, which provides membership for low-income families and individuals, financial assistance for families needing child care, general YMCA programming and before and after school programming, among other items.
For more information regarding Saturday's Hodag Run, contact the Y at 715-362-9622, or visit www.ymcaofthenorthwoods.org or www.raceentry.com.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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