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Fox Cities Marathon to be 50 States Marathon Club reunion race

Fox Cities Marathon to be 50 States Marathon Club reunion race
Fox Cities Marathon to be 50 States Marathon Club reunion race

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NEENAH – It’s probably not everyone’s idea of ​​a fun family reunion activity, but for Joe and Nick Zimmerman, it makes perfect sense.

The brothers and former Neenah residents will return to their hometown in September to run the Community First Fox Cities Marathon presented by Miron Construction on Sept. 22. The event has been designated as one of four reunion races this year for the 50 States Marathon Club.

This is the third time Fox Cities has hosted a reunion race (also in 2006 and 2015) and the Fox Cities Marathon is the only marathon in Wisconsin to host a reunion race.

“The course is generally flat and fast, which marathoners love. We’re a Boston qualifier, so that helps. But I think overall they know it’s a well-organized race and it has a history, so to speak, with this being our 33rd year,” said Fox Cities Marathon race director Julie Johnson. “And the other thing is it also has to do with the support of the community. Knowing that the community supports it, that the community inspires it and that so many people come out to cheer people on, they feel that and it’s appreciated in so many ways.”

Joe Zimmerman enjoys the ‘personal challenge’ of marathon running

Joe Zimmmeran, 54, moved to New York in 1999 and has lived in New York City since 2007. He ran the ThedaCare Half Marathon last year and has run the marathon course as part of a series of training runs when he’s been back home, but he’s running the full marathon in his hometown for the first time.

He has run over 70 full marathons and is a member of the 50 States Marathon Club. His first marathon was the Chicago Marathon in 2000. He has also competed in several ultramarathons.

“For me it’s a personal challenge,” he said. “I realized very early on that I would never win in the strict sense of the word. I’m not going to be the one to break the tie. I’m not going to win the recommendations and the awards. But it’s one of the few activities where you can be on the same course, at the same time, as the elite in the world. Even if they’re only doing it for two hours or more and I’m doing it for four hours or more. For me it’s my own personal race.”

Joe, who works as Chief Compliance Officer and Privacy Officer for an oncology biotech company in Connecticut, has many family members still in the Fox Cities, so participating in the reunion race has special meaning.

“It’s a hidden gem in so many ways,” Joe said. “The people here are so gracious and welcoming, and that time of year is probably the best in terms of the lovely temperature. It’s great for running, great for spectators. And in a park where I grew up. I remember the old rocket, where there was more steel and probably the tetanus shots I got from that. To end here, I see the hospital where I was born. The tower of the town hall. The clock tower that I remember the effort to save. Friends and family names on that plaque.

“I think the community needs to realize how much credit it gives to the community and the organizers of the event that this race is chosen by the 50 States Marathon Club. They only choose four a year and it has to be a first-class race that has all the right attributes.”

According to the 50 States Marathon Club website, there are 5,342 members who have run more than 375,000 marathons.

Joe Zimmerman has run marathons in 48 states, leaving only Alaska and Hawaii. He plans to run in Alaska with Nick and other family members in August, and then finish the cycle with a race in Hawaii next year.

“For me, it’s been a long journey. I’m going to do it for 25 years. A quarter century, about half my life, spent on this,” Joe said. “It’s awesome. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s also a great way to see every state. And seeing every state, people think of distance running as a solitary sport. It’s a real community. It’s a real social sport. So you spend time, sometimes hours, with someone, and you talk about their whole background. It’s not just about running. It’s about everything in their life. So it becomes a very bonding experience. Bonding over the hardships or the pain or the fatigue or just the experience. So it’s really great to be a part of.”

Nick Zimmerman ran a mile for over 1,000 days straight

Nick Zimmerman, 51, doesn’t have quite the marathon experience of his older brother. His first marathon was also Chicago in 2000, and he’s completed about 15 full marathons. Like Joe, he’ll be running the full marathon in his hometown for the first time, having also completed the ThedaCare Half Marathon last year.

Nick, a prosecutor who has lived in Rockford, Illinois, since 2000, started running after college, when he and Joe were still living together.

“I just started running and have been doing it for a long time,” he said. “It hopefully keeps me in shape for the most part and like I said, I enjoy it. It’s a good time to unwind from all the stress in life.”

Despite living in Illinois for nearly 25 years, Nick is no stranger to running in the Fox Cities. He and his college roommate created an ultramarathon event a few years ago that runs from Hortonville to Oshkosh on the Wiouwash State Trail.

“It was awesome. It was a great time,” he said. “It’s just a small group of us and all friends. … It’s 26.3 miles, so it’s only an ultramarathon in the sense that it’s 0.1 mile longer than a normal marathon. So I don’t know if that counts.”

Nick admits he has “no training plan” when it comes to preparing for a marathon, other than running longer distances as the race approaches to build up his endurance.

“I just run slow every day,” he said.

Joe says that Nick can run faster than him, but Nick has a different opinion.

“We’re both equally slow,” Nick said with a smile. “Maybe I’m less slow.”

Nick also performed remarkably consistently, running at least one mile every day for over 1,000 days, until the streak ended during a trip.

“The streak was only broken — and I’ll brag about him — when he was traveling internationally and wasn’t able to make a 12-hour flight,” Joe said of his brother.

They both insist that there is no sibling rivalry on the course and they generally stick together. In last year’s half marathon, Nick finished one second ahead of Joe.

“He’s faster, quicker, but I’ve got more endurance and distance running under my belt,” Joe said. “But he’s a pretty tough competitor.”