Paavo Nurmi Marathon

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History of "The Paavo"

Where were you in 1969? If you were in northern Wisconsin during the summer of '69 you could have seen or even run in the first-ever Paavo Nurmi Marathon. If you weren't here for that running-plan now to come to Hurley, Wisconsin for the annual running of the Paavo Nurmi Marathon, always held on the second Saturday in August.

It was August of 1969 that Dr. Thomas Rosandich, who ran an intensive athletic training camp in the northwoods of Iron County, Wisconsin, had gathered about 70 of his athletes and charted a course that took them 26 miles, 385 yards North to Hurley, Wisconsin's fabled Silver Street.

Little did Rosandich, now President of the U.S. Sports Academy in Daphne, Alabama, know that 25 years later the marathon he began would grow to become Wisconsin's longest running marathon, and, in the process, precede and outlive a running mania that spawned a host of marathons in a host of communities throughout the nation.

The marathon's namesake, Paavo Nurmi, was the winner of nine Olympic Gold Medals, the greatest Finnish runner in that nation's history. The name reflects the predominantly Finnish heritage of the region.

The cream of the midwest distance runners traditionally join forces with hundreds of novice and veteran marathoners for the running of "The Paavo". The USATF-sanctioned Marathon begins at 7:30 a.m. on that Saturday in August, on the main street in the small community of Upson and concludes several hours later on Silver Street in Hurley, having run its course through forests and fields, along rivers and lakes.

The marathon enjoyed its zenith in the mid-1970's, when over 1,100 runners would take to the course. As the national craze in distance running faded by the 1980's, so did the interest in the Paavo as marathon entrants dwindled and settled at around the 350 mark, but the machine that drives the Paavo kept going, and while marathons around the nation ceased to run, the Paavo kept churning away, mile after mile, year after year.

The sponsors of the race, the Hurley Area Chamber of Commerce and the Hurley Area Lioness, provide the organizational skills to keep the race running, but it's the runners and the area resident volunteers who make the race "go". Area residents and volunteers embrace the runners with their applause and encouragement, and many continue to open their homes to runners from throughout the region, in turn creating long-lasting friendships that endure long after the final runner comes across the finish line.

The record for the event stands at 2:19:10, set by Richard Wilde of England in 1978. The women's record is held by Mary Bange of La Crosse, Wisconsin, in a time of 2:47:49, set in 1979.

The race weekend begins with a carbo-loaded Spaghetti Feed in the community of Hurley on the Friday afternoon and continues that night with a gala torch lighting ceremony on Hurley's Silver Street. After the marathon, a festive "Post Paavo Party" and awards ceremony is held in Hurley, with music, food and refreshments available for everyone. For more information on the Paavo Nurmi Marathon, contact the Hurley Area Chamber of Commerce at (715)-561-4334.

Paavo Nurmi Marathon

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Paavo a Boston Marathon qualifier?  Yes

What time does the Marathon start?  Full Marathon and Relays start in Upson at 7:30 am

What time does the Half Marathon start?  Half Marathon starts in Gile at 8:00 am

Is transportation provided to the start line?  Transportation is provided to the start line.

Pick up times and locations are as follows:

Comfort Inn Ironwood Parking Lot:    5:45 am

Days Inn Hurley Parking Lot:              6:00 am

Hurley K-12 School Parking Lot:         6:15 am

Iron Horse Trailhead:                           6:15 am

These buses are going to the start line in UPSON. 

Bussing for the start line in GILE will leave from the Iron Horse Trailhead beginning at 7:00 am

The Iron Horse Trailhead is located at the corner of 5th Avenue and Silver Street, Downtown Hurley

 Is transportation provided back to the start line(s) after the race to get my car?  NO.  We recommend that you find someone to drive you to the start line or use one of our courtesy buses provided.

If I choose to park my vehicle at the Iron Horse Trailhead, is there plenty of parking available?  Yes.

What time limit is placed on the course?  The Paavo Nurmi Marathon course closes at 2:00 pm.  At that time any remaining participants are given the option of a ride back to the finish or can continue on, under their own decision.  There is no official timing or aid station support provided after 2:00 pm.

Can I switch from the Full to Half Marathon category?  Yes.  However no refunds are given.

I cannot make this year’s event, can I receive a refund?  No.   We do defer registrations to the following year, but no refunds are given.

Are showers available?  Yes.  The Hurley K-12 School will be open from 9:30 am – 11:30 am.

How does transportation work for the 5 person relay teams?   The following MUST be adhered to when participating in a 5 person relay.  The second leg runner should be at the shuttle (located at the start line in Upson) by 7:20 am.  A bus will take that runner to the split.

When the first runner completes his / her leg, a bus is available to go to mile 10 in Pence.  ABSOLUTELY NO VEHICLES allowed on the course going to the 5 mile split.  Only emergency vehicles and course personnel are allowed on this portion of the course.

Each relay team will be given 2 signs for their vehicles.

Designated parking areas are mandatory and Mile 20.

Mile 20 parking -----  Island Lake Road or Lampi Road.  Park on designated side of road.

Mile 20 split------ Traffic is to flow from north ( off of Hwy 77 ) to south.  Each vehicle should exercise EXTREME caution in this area.  The road is narrow, with hills and corners.  Several aid stations are positioned here.  In other words, SLOW DOWN.

Can I pick up my packet on Race Day?  Race Day packet pickup is available from 5:30 am – 6:45 am at the Hurley Chamber of Commerce, 316 Silver Street, Hurley.  (This is downtown about a ½ block from the finish line and 1 ½ blocks from the bus pick up)  No packets are available at the start line.

Can I register on Race Day?  No.  Registration ends at 7:00pm on Friday, August 11, 2017.

Do I get a finisher medal?  The first 200 Full and 200 Half Marathon participants to complete the course will receive a finisher medal.  ( 2015 registration totals:  Full 149; Half 153)

Where do I get my finisher medal?  Finisher medals are available in the Iron Nugget Restaurant located on Silver Street, right by the Finish Line.  Please have your race bib with you.

Where do I get my Marathon Finisher t-shirt?  Full marathon finisher t-shirts are available in the Iron Nugget Restaurant located on Silver Street, right by the Finish Line.  Please have your race bib with you.

I have items that I want brought back to the finish line from the start line, how does that work?  Volunteers are available at both start lines to provide runners with a clear item bag to place belongings in.  Bags are labeled and you will need to provide your information on the label.  Bags will be brought back to the Finish Line area and can be retrieved at the Iron Nugget Restaurant located on Silver Street, right by the Finish Line.  Please have your race bib with you.

Are early starts allowed?  No.

Where are Aid Stations located?   Aid stations are available at:  Mile 3, 6, 9, 12, 13.1, 15, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25.

What is available at aid stations?  All aid stations are stocked with ice, water, Gatorade and first aid supplies.

I missed the shirt cut off date, can I order one and have it sent to me?   T-shirts are available for participants who registered by July 31, 2017.  You can order a shirt at packet pickup and have mailed to you (cost is $5 to cover shipping) or to pick up at the Hurley Chamber.  Shirts are ordered the week after the race and usually ready within 2 weeks.