We Walk! Course
The course for the We Walk! Marathon, Half Marathon & 50 km 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, 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.
We place We Walk! Marathon mile markers underneath the whole number Lake Wobegon Trail mile markers. Our mile markers show how many miles it is to St Joseph (just like a highway mile sign). This is "backwards" from the mile markings used in a traditional running race. Our markers show you how much more you have to do to finish.
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 Sauk 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 mile gentle downhill to the finish. .
At Lake Wobegon Trail mile marker 83.5, the 50km course loops back on itself for about 8km to make up the necessary additional distance. You walk back past Collegeville, all the way to Norway Rd before turning back and heading to Collegeville and the finish line 3 miles beyond. There are signs for the 50km walkers identifying the turn around points of this loop. Remember to only do the extra loop once!
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 to the start picks people up, has real bathrooms and a drinking fountain.
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: "water stop".
Aid Stations are 2-3 miles apart. All Aid Stations have water and Gatorade - both to drink and to fill your bottle.. All Aid Stations have friendly volunteers to help.
All Aid Stations are open from the expected arrival time of the fastest walker until the expected arrival time of the slowest possible walker that could still make the 4pm finish time. If a walker falls significantly behind the slowest pace that a walker can go and still make it to the finish line by 4pm, we encourage the walker to abandon the race. Contact an Aid Station volunteer or the race director to abandon the race.
Each Aid Station has a port-a-potty except for Melrose, Albany, Avon and St Joseph, which have real bathrooms.
In Melrose, at the start line for the marathon and the 50km, the Aid Station is in St Mary's 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. This is an excess clothing drop for the marathon and the 50km. Trail food is available. Coffee is available. Sun screen is available.
An Aid Station is just west of County Rd 65.
The Aid Station in Freeport is located in the center of town at the picnic table next to the trail. This is an excess clothing drop for the marathon and the 50km. Trail food is available. Sun screen is available.
An Aid Station is just west of 248th Ave. A port-a-potty is here too, but it is located north of the trail near the road since there is no road crossing here and there is no way to deliver the port-a-potty to the trail. Just follow the signs, it is not very far.
The Aid Station for Albany is located in the center of town at the city building. Real bathrooms are available in the city building. This is an excess clothing drop for the marathon and the 50km. Trail food is available. Sun screen is available.
An Aid Station is just east of Albany, at the half marathon start. This Aid Station is open from the expected time of the first bus arrival until the start of the half marathon. This is an excess clothing drop for the half marathon. Sun screen is available. Though this Aid Station will be closed for marathon and 50km, the port-a-potty will be available.
An Aid Station is just west of Peach Dr.
The 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. This is an excess clothing drop for the half marathon. Sun screen is available. Trail food is available.
An Aid Station is just east of Norway Rd.
This is the far NW end of the extra loop for the 50km walkers.
The Aid Station for Collegeville is located near the historic marker. Despite the name, Collegeville is no longer a town. This is roughly the center of the 50km loop. Sun screen is available. Trail food is available.
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 Aid Station is just east of County Hwy 3.
In St. Joseph, at the finish line, the Aid Station will be at the Lake Wobegon Trailhead in St Joseph, with access to real bathrooms. End of race food is available.
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
You may encounter other users, such as bicyclists, walkers,
or runners, on the trail during the event. Please be
considerate of the other trail users and give way as warranted
by the circumstances. As a shared use event on the trail we
want to earn a community reputation for polite and friendly
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. Roughly 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, turning back west at the traffic cone. 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 at the traffic cone, 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 roughly centered around Collegeville.