Racers cross Mini Marathon finish with triumphant stories

Over 5,000 runners filled Madison's downtown streets Saturday morning.

In its sixth year, the Mini Marathon has participants from 39 states.

It's difficult to hear much else above the cheering and cowbells.

Pam and Amber Cook woke up when it was still dark outside.

"I was up at 5:30," said Amber Cook.
"I was up at 4:30 to get ready to pick her up at 6," said Pam Cook.

They did so to lend some encouragement in runners final steps and drops of sweat.

"We're here to watch the runners cross the finish line," said Amber Cook.

Many of the runners crossed the finish line with stories of triumph. One man crossed the 5k finish line after losing 300 pounds. The person Amber and her mom are cheering for is running at the same time he's on the path of healing.

"I've run some half marathons and he's always been there for me."

She's talking about her sister's boyfriend, and the person they've saved their loudest cheers for.

"He had appendicitis and had to have his appendix removed last month and then he picked up his training again and he still able to come out and do it," said Amber Cook. "Probably faster than i would be able to!"

Amber says mile 9 -- Cemetery Hill -- is often hardest for the runners.

Those in charge of the course hope the tough ones were also scenic ones.

"We wrap around Camp Randall, go through the arb, they finish back on the lakefront path. They really get a nice tour of downtown the campus and it's just an absolutely beautiful course," said Jeff Graves, President Vision Event Management who puts on the Mini Marathon each year.

He says it's the endless support that keeps everyone going.

"We had a fantastic crowd when I was coming down State Street in the lead vehicle today. I couldn't believe the number of people; we have a bunch of cheer stations," said Graves.

Last year the Mini Marathon brought about 5.4 million dollars into the local economy.

In part with the 5k and half marathon, kids also had a chance to run.

About 200 tikes ran a tenth of a mile, and crossed the same finish line as many of their parents who participated in the other races.

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