If you’ve attended the Madison Marathon in the last few years, you may have seen Brent Kimbel (42) and Bill Enright (47) of Verona. They’re impossible to miss, because these gentlemen complete the entire race dressed head-to-toe as beer bottles. Their goal? To challenge others to have fun while they run.
Focal Flame Photography, the official event photography service provider for the 2014 Madison Marathon events, asked Brent and Bill—also known by their alter egos, “Mich” and “Ultra”—about why they run in such spectacularly unique style.
Focal Flame Photography (FFP): Do you participate in other similar events?
Brent: I've run 12 half or full marathons, at least 6 in costume, including the 2008 Ironman in Arizona, a couple of Half-IronMans (Racine and High Cliff), a few shorter triathlons (Capitol View), as well as the Haunted Hustle, the Green Bay Marathon, and the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathons.
Bill: Eleven for me including IronMan Wisconsin 2006 and 2009, Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, and a bunch of Half-Marathon and Adventure Races for years.
FFP: What does running and participating in events such as the Madison Marathon mean to you?
Brent: Running in races such as this is a great way to put yourself in a very positive environment. Everyone, racers and spectators alike, are out to have fun and are very encouraging to one another.
Bill: It is the most healthy way to support our community events.
FFP: With so many races to choose from, what makes the Madison Marathon special?
Brent: When you run in a hometown race you see and run with a lot of your friends so it is more like a party. I also like that the half marathon is a springtime race [Editor’s note: the Half Marathon distance is now offered in both spring and fall]; it motivates you to get out and run after being locked up inside for such a long winter, especially this year.
FFP: Do you do anything to make the race more meaningful or fun?
Bill: Brent and I make it a little more fun than your average racer! We started off running as Ketchup and Mustard (I was Mustard), finishing the race at the World Famous Brat Fest. Now that the event is sponsored by Budweiser, we dress up as beer bottles — Mich and Ultra.
Brent: Many people we talk to come to the starting line with a goal of "just beating the beer bottles." Luckily we're not super fast runners, so a lot of people walk away happy. We have a lot of fun encouraging the other runners along the way too, especially first timers. It's hard to think about the pain when you are joking around with guys who are cracking jokes.
Bill: We like to think that our presence has resulted in the fastest total combined times for any Half in the country. Just our comical presence motivates a lot of other runners — there is no way they will let themselves be beat by two dudes dressed up like anything.
FFP: What would you tell other racers about participating in the Madison Marathon?
Bill: Just DO IT!
Brent: It's a well-run, organized, enjoyable race. The fan support is terrific — the community really comes out to cheer everyone on. It doesn't matter what time you finish in, just that you are giving it your all.
FFP: Is there anything else about your journey as a runner that you think we should know?
Brent: When I stopped focusing on what my stopwatch read and just enjoyed the miles and the journey, running really became much more fun. These days I don't even wear a watch.
Bill: If you are going to voluntarily do this to yourself you might as well make it fun.
This article is part of a series featuring athletes who are participating in a Madison Marathon event in 2014. The Fall Half-Marathon and Marathon races will occur on November 9 on the streets of Wisconsin's capitol city. For more information or to register, visit Madison Marathon.
- interview by Deborah Proctor