MU finishes second in Lakefront University Challenge

Schunk, Cleland race to personal bests at the Lakefront Marathon.

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MU finishes second in Lakefront University Challenge

John Hand, john.hand@mu.edu

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Students, faculty and alumni from Marquette, UW-Milwaukee and Concordia University-Wisconsin who completed the 35th Lakefront Marathon this past Saturday gathered at the Union Sports Annex on Tuesday to talk about the race, reload on calories and ultimately hear which school won the Lakefront University Challenge.

In 60-degree cloudy weather – perfect conditions for running – about 90 runners from Marquette, about 60 from UWM and about 40 runners from Concordia all embarked on the course, which started in Grafton and ended in Milwaukee’s Veterans Park.

The times for every runner on each team were averaged to determine the winner of the challenge. In the end, the winner took the competition by a nose (by marathon standards).

With a winning margin of just 37 seconds, UWM (4:01:28) took the trophy over Marquette (4:02:05). Concordia finished third, with an average time of 4 hours, 32 minutes.

“We had a great turnout and some great performances by our team,” said University President Michael Lovell, who finished his 28th marathon in 3:25:32.

“The race and course itself were awesome,” added Marquette Student Government President Zack Wallace, who ran his first marathon in 3:06:35. “It was a little cool at the start, but you get warm right away. It was cool to be 26 miles north and to run to Milwaukee.”

Marquette’s team was highlighted with two top-5 overall finishes. Graduate student Sofie Schunk, who finished third in the women’s division in her first-ever marathon, ran the 26.2-mile course in 2:52:35. She beat her goal time of 2:55 and easily qualified for the Boston Marathon. Brice Cleland, also a Marquette graduate student, finished in fourth in the men’s division in 2:33:59.

“I was better trained this time than I was last time,” Cleland said with a laugh, referring to when he first ran Lakefront two years ago.

The key to success for Schunk was running into an old friend at the starting line.

“I kind of knew Mike (Nelson, Marquette’s cross country coach) from playing soccer at Marquette,” Schunk said. “I found him at the starting line and we were running together and he was like ‘you should just stick with me.’ So we had a group of us, and with the conversations throughout, you don’t think about running that much.”

Many of the runners for Marquette were part of President Lovell’s running group.

“We have a pretty big group on campus, we had one hundred people sign up and ninety complete the race,” Lovell said. “Through all the training we did together, we got to know each other really well and support each other. We really built a great team and I take great pleasure in seeing how well other people are able to do.”

After a successful first year in the University Challenge, Marquette will surely be a team to watch at next year’s Lakefront Marathon.

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