Door County Half Marathon Course Director
Name: Myles Dannhausen
Occupation: Freelance Writer/Digital Editor, and Course Director of the Door County Half Marathon
Lives in: Chicago, but born and raised in Egg Harbor
Claim to fame: One of the worst baseball players to ever start three Door County League baseball games. The Bays were having an off decade.
Favorite Door County activities:
Volleyball on the County A courts
Running or biking in the early evening, just about anywhere
Getting on the water any way possible
Random conversations at local watering holes
Grilling out with veggies from my parents’ garden
Showing my 11 city-dwelling nieces and nephews everything we used to do growing up
Q. How did you get involved in the Door County Half Marathon?
A. Eight years ago, I was writing for the Peninsula Pulse and my boss, Dave Eliot, started the event with Brian Fitzgerald. I didn’t know much about running at the time, but I did help out with the event, and decided to participate in the Nicolet Bay 5K. It was just so much fun to be around the running community, to do something that had a time on it, to have fans there cheering on the sidelines – being a former high school athlete, I never thought I’d have that again. I really liked the group of people involved and had a great time, so I became more and more committed to helping the event each subsequent year.
Q. What do you love most about being a part of the event?
A. It’s been great to meet other runners, and being a native of Door County, it’s nice to play a big part in putting together an event that brings a lot of people up here at a time when they wouldn’t otherwise come. It’s great to work with a bunch of people who really want to put on a great event. There are over 200 volunteers helping make this happen, and so many of them are business owners. Runners are getting water handed to them by some of the most prominent business owners in this community, who really appreciate the tourism.
Q. What is unique about the Door County Half Marathon?
A. We’re fortunate to have Peninsula State Park as a venue. While there are plenty of half marathons in other Midwest locations like Chicago, Green Bay and Milwaukee, Door County’s is unique in that it’s a closed course — so no running alongside traffic or sharing narrow pathways with thousands of other runners — and it’s on a road, not a trail. It’s so great to be running this course. You’re running along the water for a stretch, then you’re on top of a bluff and looking out at the islands, then you’re running through the woods. There are so many different aspects of the course. There are parts where there’s great fan support, and other parts where it’s just you, the other runners and this scenic park.
Q. How many participants do you expect to have this year?
A. We expect about 2,700 runners, which would be slightly more than last year. It’s our 8th year — and it’s grown significantly from the first year, which had a total of 590 runners between the two races. Most of the participants are from Wisconsin, and quite a few are from Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan, but we’ll be representing 33 states total this year.
About 10 percent of entrants are from Door County, and it’s really neat to see that locals are inspired and motivated to train for something that can help get them through the long winter months. The YMCA has even held half marathon training classes since there was so much interest in prepping for this race. The shorter run – the Nicolet Bay 5K – has become kind of a feeder event for the half. A lot of people will do the 5K and think they don’t have a half in them, but then they see all the people finishing the half and are inspired and motivated to do more the following year.
Q. Why is this race so important to the local economy?
A. Bringing in a few thousand people who otherwise wouldn’t be here for a weekend is a big deal. A number of our sponsor restaurants host pasta dinners the night before the race, and after the race, people are invited to celebrate at Husby’s with live music and beer from Door County Brewing Company. Because it’s Saturday, people don’t have to head home right away. They can hang out for another night and spend money at local restaurants, bars, hotels and other businesses. It’s a huge boost – many hotels have told us they used to have one or two guests that weekend but now they’re booked by January.
These kinds of events bring a ton of younger, athletic, outdoorsy types to the area – in fact, according to our surveys, 8-12 percent of runners in any given year are in Door County for the first time. The opportunity to introduce the best we have to offer, from Peninsula State Park to the people and businesses involved in the event, will hopefully start a lifetime of return visits to Door County for some of these runners.