Joey Christensen of Polaski starts the half marathon with his “running angels.” —STAFF PHOTO
Joey Christensen of Polaski starts the half marathon with his “running angels.” —STAFF PHOTO
The 23rd annual Journeys Marathon, sponsored by the Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center last Saturday, featured many inspirational stories of runners of all ages.

Some runners completed their first marathon while others established personal goals for the time it took them to complete the 26.2-mile course from near Boulder Junction to Eagle River or the 13.1-mile half marathon course.

Chamber Executive Director Kim Emerson said the 2019 Journeys attracted a total of 592 runners and walkers in the five Journeys events — the full marathon, the half marathon, the half-marathon power walk, the 10-kilometer run and the 5-kilometer run. She said participants this year represented 14 different states, including Wisconsin.

For one area running family, the 23rd annual event had special meaning. The Rottier family of John, Mandy, Heidi (Skarda) and Jaclyn (Halsey) took part in this year’s event representing myTeam Triumph (mTT) as “running angels.”

MyTeam Triumph is a Wisconsin nonprofit organization that uses endurance sports events like fundraising and competitive runs across the state to get the word out about those not able to compete by themselves, and yet still want to fulfil that urge to compete.

The Eagle River family was joined on the half marathon course by Joey Christensen of Pulaski, an mTT captain who met Mandy Rottier when she worked in the Pulaski school system. The goal of both Rottier and Christensen was to celebrate and empower those with diverse abilities and, through events like Journeys Marathon, foster lifelong relationships through  community athletics.

When Christensen and the running angels reached the bridge in Eagle River, Christensen climbed out of his special mTT chair and he walked the final 100 yards to the finish line in Riverview Park to the cheers of hundreds of spectators.

“The 2019 Journeys Marathon was a great success,” said Emerson. “The Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center congratulates all participants.”

The Journeys Marathon is special because so many runners reach personal goals as they cross the finish line in all five events. If you missed the race this year as a participant, spectator or couldn’t help out as a volunteer, there’s always next year. The 24th annual Journeys Marathon is set for May 9, 2020.