The Badgerland Striders
The Badgerland Striders are Wisconsin’s largest and most established running club and proud to be one of the largest in the USA. The club’s primary purpose is the promotion and encouragement of running as a sport and as a means of staying active and giving back to the local running community. We accomplish this through training programs, educational speakers and social opportunities. We are a non-profit in the truest sense, as we are comprised of volunteers hosting low-cost and safe running events. The profits from these events are used to support community projects like the Pettit Center running track, other non-profit running-related charities, free educational & fitness programs and free “Fun Runs” through most of the year. We are active members of the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) and USA Track & Field, which has awarded our events as State and National running events.
Whether you are an elite or someone interested in taking your first jogging steps, we offer something for everyone and are sure to encourage you toward being the best “runner” you want to be!
The Badgerland Striders are Wisconsin’s largest and one of the U.S.A.’s largest running club, serving Southeastern Wisconsin for over 50 years. We are a community of runners who encourage each other in reaching our goals and volunteer to benefit the community as a whole. Your ideas, inspiration, attitude and time will surely be valued and appreciated.
A Brief History of the Badgerland Striders
Excerpted from ‘Times Past: Now and Then’ by Ron Winkler originally published in The Strider on April 2000
We were born on October 1, 1959 which puts us in the 40 to 44 year-old age group as listed on race entry forms. The baby was named The Milwaukee Track Club. Brian Murphy was the sparkplug of the club, and kept things organized until he moved away in 1970. Brian was an all-around track man who competed in almost every event.
Another early pioneer was George Corns, who did a lot to promote distance running and cross country. Another pioneer was Wulf Koehlert, who also promoted distance running and cross country. He drove many of us all over the Midwest to races. Other pioneers were Bengy Altheimer, Terry Rebholz, Garvin Smith, Larry Whiteside, Wally Schuk, Pete Glaser, Dave Griffiths, Doug Irwin, Bill Marquette, and Clarence Trinkner. Support was given by John Tierney, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee cross country and track coach, and Herman Kluge, UWM athletic director.
Dues were Low
Club dues in 1965 were $5, with the option of a lifetime membership for $50. Lifetime memberships included free entry in all club meets, and meets that the club competed in. Benefits such as car washes were held to raise funds for the club. The club competed in track, cross country, and race walking. Competition was against colleges, universities and other track clubs.
National 10 Mile Championship
In 1961 the club successfully bid for the United States Track and Field federation National 10-Mile Championship. This was run on a two-loop, five-mile course on Milwaukee’s Lakefront between the old gun club and the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Cudahy Oldest Race
As numbers grew this race was moved to Cudahy, where it continues to this day on the first Sunday of August. This race has the distinction of being Wisconsin’s oldest continuous distance race. This year’s race will be the 40th running.
In 1973, UWM took charge of the club under cross country coach Russ Coley. The club was renamed the UWM Track Club, and the focus was on retaining more athletes after graduation. Wulf Koehlert was the first president. Developmental track meets and fun runs were added as family participation was encouraged. The club fielded two cross country teams–one for men and one for women. An annual banquet was held each December to honor the teams. The banquet eventually evolved into the Christmas party and then the now-familiar January Holiday Party.
Another Name Change
By 1977 it was time for another name change. When the name was changed from The Milwaukee Track Club, some runners didn’t like the UWM part. A new name was sought because the club was a separate organization; and the name was limiting geographically as members were from all over Wisconsin and the club had expanded to include road running and cross country in addition to track and field. Roger Bodart headed the committee that put the vote to the membership of a new name. Badgerland Striders received 42 votes, Milwaukee Running Club, 33 votes, and Milwaukee Area Running Club/Association received 8 votes. Dave Belling designed a new logo and masthead for the newsletter.
First Race booklet
Meanwhile, the club had become involved in sponsoring and officiating at many races. The first annual Race Booklet was released in 1976. Approximately 15 people, headed by Ann Guse, contributed and worked on it. Club dues were $6 per individual and $8 per family. An offshoot of this was the monthly column beginning in 1978 by Ann titled “Where It’s At,” which summarized her thoughts on races throughout the area.
The running boom was underway. Our club was booming. Races, memberships, and responsibilities were growing. We had matured and were becoming the authority on running in Wisconsin.
In 1975 Vernon Nelson was president, Grant Nelson and Russ Coley were vice presidents, Mary Belling was secretary, and John Peychal was treasurer. In 1976 and 1977 the president and vice presidents remained the same. Marie Vigil was secretary and Dick Watty was treasurer. For 1978, the secretary and treasurer continued in office while Clark Bowerman took over as president and Keith Wickersham became vice president. The newsletter editor was Mary Belling from the UWM Track Club.
Over 3,000 members strong makes us consistantly one of the largest running clubs in the U.S. We continue to be a volunteer based organization and money raised from our events goes back into the community for projects such as: Pettit Center running track, grants to other non-profit running related groups like Girls on the Run and toward making social events like our FUN RUNS, sporting events and meeting nights possible. We are a true non-profit and VERY proud of our contributions to the local running community and community at-large.
Our future looks bright thanks to members (and future members) like you! With your support, we will look forward to offering additional racing, training and social events for generations to come. The next time you consider running an event, please consider a Badgerland Strider run and become involved–we will all be better for it!