We Walk! Course
The course for the We Walk! Marathon and Half Marathon is on the Lake Wobegon ® Regional Trail in central Minnesota. The course travels through rural Minnesota encountering interesting small towns, lakes, wet lands and farms. This is the area of Minnesota that provided the foundation for Garrison Keillor's The News from Lake Wobegon.
In the late spring, this central Minnesota is green and growing. You'll have a chance to see a wide variety of birds, and if you are lucky a beaver, muskrat, or deer. Most of all, you'll get to experience the peace of rural Minnesota.
Each half mile along the course are Lake Wobegon Trail mile markers. The numbers on these markers approximate the number of miles from Minneapolis on the old railroad line. When we measured the course, we checked the spacing of these mile markers and they are, except for one, placed quite accurately (and that one is 10% off). You will always know how much further you have to go, if you just remember that the finish line is at mile marker 82. The marathon starts just west of mile marker 108, while the half marathon starts just west of mile marker 95.
If you like web based mapping, try the course map on USA Track & Field's Running Routes. If you have the free copy of Google Earth, download this Google Earth Place file (We Walk Marathon.kmz) and open it with Google Earth.
The marathon course and the 50km course start in Melrose, less than a block away from a typical small town Minnesota church, and right in front of the town museum. The start is located on the eastern edge of the downtown area.
The course heads east on the Lake Wobegon Trail, and one is quickly out of Melrose. Ahead lie the Saux River and 5¾ miles of small farms.
As you enter Freeport, you can see the Main Street shops a short block away on the left side of the trail. If you feel the need for food or refreshment, try Charlie's Cafe, or for those interested in a quicker stop, try the Corner Store, Smiley Gas Mart or the First Stop Convenience Center.
The course heads southeast out of Freeport, and one is quickly in rural Minnesota. The next 5 miles are the straightest and flattest you will probably ever see in a marathon. Just as the trail bends before you enter Albany, you'll go under a high, wooden trestle railroad bridge.
In Albany, you can see the Railroad Avenue shops a block away on the left side of the trail.
The course continues east out of Albany. Just outside of town is the halfway point for the marathon, and the start for the half marathon. The next 6 miles is the most peaceful part of the course, with roads far away and the small lakes and woodlots right next to the course.
In Avon, the shops are all on Avon Ave, the only major road you'll cross in town. You have to walk a few blocks to the right on Avon Avenue to visit the Cabin Cafe.
The course continues southeast out of town, winding through small farms. About 5 miles out, you'll encounter the Collegeville Station historic marker on your right. One last curve, then a 3 miles of gentle downhill to the finish. .
Right before you get to the finish line, the 50km course loops back on itself for about 8km to make up the necessary additional distance.
The finish line is on the northern edge of St. Joseph at Lake Wobegon Trail mile marker 82.
Aid Stations & Bathrooms
The trailhead building in St Joseph, where the bus picks people up to go to the start, will have coffee, water, sports drink, and bagels starting at 5:30am Saturday.
A standard blue and white sign for restrooms will be placed along the trail with an arrow pointing toward the bathroom or Port-a-Potty.
All Aid Stations are identified by a fluorescent red sign that say "water stop".
Staffed Aid Stations and Port-a-Potty locations are 4-6 miles apart. There will be an Aid Station and Port-a-Potty in each town (Melrose, Freeport, Albany, Avon and St. Joseph) and at the Collegeville. Avon features real bathrooms!
An Unstaffed Aid Station is placed between each of the staffed Aid Stations. An unstaffed aid station is just a table with goodies on it and, new in 2013, a Port-a-Potty.
In Melrose, at the start line for the marathon and the 50km, the Aid Station will be in a school, with access to real bathrooms. This Aid Station will be open from expected time of first bus arrival until the start of the marathon and 50km.
An unstaffed aid station is just west of County Rd 65. A port-a-potty is here too.
The staffed aid station in Freeport is located in the center of town at the picnic benches next to the trail. A port-a-potty is here too.
An unstaffed aid station is just west of 248th Ave. A port-a-potty is here too.
The staffed aid station for Albany is located just east of Albany at the start of the half marathon. A port-a-potty is here too.
An unstaffed aid station is just west of Peach Dr. A port-a-potty is here too.
The staffed aid station for Avon is located in the pavilion with the picnic benches next to the trail. Real bathrooms are located in the base of the tower.
An unstaffed aid station is just east of Norway Rd. A port-a-potty is here too.
This is the far NW end of the extra loop for the 50km walkers.
The staffed aid station for Collegeville is located just east of the historic marker, at the turn-around point for the 50km. A port-a-potty is located near the historic marker.
There is an unstaffed aid station without a port-a-potty just NW of the SE end of the extra loop for the 50km walkers (mile marker 83.5).
An unstaffed aid station is just east of County Hwy 3. A port-a-potty is here too.
In St. Joseph, at the finish line for the marathon and the half marathon, the Aid Station will be at the Lake Wobegon trailhead building, with access to real bathrooms.
Each aid station will provide water and sports drink (Gatorade G and G2) - both to drink and to fill your bottle. The staffed aid stations may provide other goodies (we are still working on the details).
Of course, the merchants in these small towns are happy to sell you food and drink. You could get a snack at gas station quick-mart, or go all out and spend some time getting lunch at one of the restaurants. Just remember, the course closes at 4pm.
The Lake Wobegon Regional Trail is a 10 foot (3 meter) wide asphalt trail built on a no longer used railroad right-of-way. The trail surface is in good condition, providing a smooth walking surface.
Because it is built on an old railroad right-of-way, there are no steep hills. In fact, the whole trail is pretty flat, with the longest uphill gaining only 75 feet (23 meters) over 3½ miles (5.6 km). Not only that, but the start is at a higher elevation than the finish, with a nice, long and gentle downhill taking you the last 5 miles (8 km) into the finish. Check out the course profile for yourself on on USA Track & Field Running Routes interactive course map.
There is no camber (side to side slope), making the course easier on the ankles.
The marathon course and the 50km course start in Melrose. The half marathon course starts in the eastern outskirts of Albany.
Since you start and finish with the marathoners, somewhere we have to make you walk an additional 7805.012 meters. Centered around the Collegeville waterstop is such a loop. After passing the Collegeville water stop you will walk to Lake Wobegon Trail mile marker 83.5, then turn back west. You will walk past the Collegeville water stop going against the flow of the other walkers until you get to the stop sign at Norway Rd. Without crossing the road, you will turn back east, walking with the flow of the other walkers. You will proceed past the Collegeville water stop again, and on to the finish line. There are signs at each of the turn around points.
If you decide to not walk the additional distance to make 50km, that is fine. Just tell the people at the finish line that you did not take the 50km loop. We will change your event.
A USATF Certified Course insures that the course is correctly measured for the advertised distance.
- Marathon is USATF Certified Course MN-08011-RR - certification map
- Half Marathon is USATF Certified Course MN-08010-RR - certification map
- 50km is USATF Certified Course MN-11012-RR. - certification map. It is essentially the marathon course, with the extra distance added by a single loop near the finish line.