Syttende Mai 20 Mile Run

I ran 20 miles from Madison to Stoughton and now my Spring races are done. Where did the time go? Can I have a do over?

The Syttende Mai 20 Mile Run starts at the Capitol Square downtown Madison and runs to Stoughton, WI. I’ve wanted to do this race since 2010 when I did the 10 mile race distance. It was such a great race! Low key, great time of year, and ends at a festival. Perfect!

Going into the 20 Mile Run I knew it was hilly. I did hill repeats, my long runs were on hilly routes, I did intervals on hilly routes, I thought I was putting in my homework for this course. John and I started the run, chatting with some of the older guys who have been running this thing for years. One guy we ran with for the first mile said it was his 37th year doing it. Amazing. During the second mile I got into a conversation with a girl who asked me about my tattoo and how hard Ironman was. This is what I really, really liked about this race, how chatty everyone was. It was intimate. I felt like everybody was my Norwegian runner BFF.

The first three or four miles flew by, chitchatting with everyone. And then the roller-coaster of hills started. I plowed up the first big, steep one and jokingly said “So this is the worst one, right?”


The hills kept coming, and by mile eight my legs were spent. Like I said, I thought I did my homework for this course, but it wasn’t enough for this course! I had to start run/walking. Instead of going into a mental black hole I just kept moving forward. I offered to John to go on ahead, it was his longest distance race yet. I know he could go on and finish under three hours, but he insisted he just wanted to have fun with me for 20 miles.


At mile 11 and 16 there were unofficial beer stations that I stopped at. I wasn’t breaking any records, so why not?


At mile 17 it started to downpour and it felt amazing. It even made me run longer without any walk breaks, plus the hills were fewer and far between. When we finally neared the finish chute John saw the clock read 3:29:30 and made us sprint to the finish so we could crack 3:30. We got there! It was a long, hard hilly race, and we both decided that next time we go to Stoughton we will drive there.

They don’t do race medals, the shirt is the prize. Will wear it proudly!

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