Andy Knapp now can say do as I do, as well as do as I say.
Knapp, a volunteer assistant coach with the University of Wisconsin cross country and track and field teams, showed he’s still got a little bit of a runner in him Saturday when he won the 38th annual Crazylegs Classic.
The chilly, snowy weather didn’t discourage the 10,500 or so competitors who took part in the rite of spring in Madison.
Knapp, an Ohio native, completed the 8K run in 25 minutes, 1 second and was greeted at the finish line by a contingent of his Badgers runners who weren’t on the trip to this weekend’s Penn Relays in Philadelphia.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve raced,” said Knapp, who was a four-year letter winner at the University of Akron. “I just wanted to have some fun and see what would happen.
“I’ve been running for a long time, since I was 10, 11 years old. Now it’s more about trying to have fun and enjoy being able to do this for the rest of my life. I’m still young enough to run fast.”
Knapp, 28, credited his unofficial coach, Morgan McDonald, the Badgers’ three-time NCAA champion. “We went for a little role reversal there,” Knapp said.
Knapp fell just short of his tentative goal of 25 minutes, but still finished comfortably ahead of second-place finisher Alexander Cushman of Madison (25:17). Dylan Souder of Madison placed third in 25:19.
Jessa Victor, 27, of Madison, was the top female finisher with a time of 29:32. Tricia Serres, of Platteville, was second (29:49) and Natasha Zanoya, of Madison, finished third (30:47).
Victor, 27, an associate attorney in the Madison office of Hawks Quindel, also was the top female finisher in 2015. She figured she had a reasonable chance of winning again, although she hadn’t trained since winning the Milwaukee Marathon on April 3.
“I’m coming off a few weeks rest after that, so I knew I was still fit but I wasn’t quite sure where I was at,” said Victor, who ran track and cross country at Marquette. “I thought it was within the realm of possibility but nothing is ever a given. It feels really good to be able to run such a cool race in my hometown.”
This year’s race was the first one run on the new course, which started from the Library Mall, rather than the traditional start on the Capitol Square. Having won on each route, Victor said she liked the change.
“It felt like less congestion being able to start down on State Street,” she said. “Starting up around the Capitol it was really tough to get to. I like the way this is set up better. This way when you start you’re looking up at the Capitol so you get to appreciate and take in the view.”
That view was only partially obscured by light snow flurries at the start of the race. While weather forecasts ranged from awful to apocalyptic, Knapp and Victor agreed that it wasn’t much of a factor.
“Honestly, this is pretty good for me,” he said. “I run pretty well in this weather. I was expecting a lot worse. Actually, the snow is a lot better than the rain would’ve been. At these temperatures, snow always beats rain.
“I was a little conservative early and then making the U-turn at about mile 3, I got the wind and the snow in the face for the last two miles. It made it a little bit tough, but the closer you get the easier it gets.”
Victor, who also has recent victories in the Wisconsin North Face Endurance Challenge ultra-marathon (50K) and the Ice Age Marathon, came prepared for worse conditions.
“Honestly, this wasn’t too bad,” Victor said. “I train outside all winter long so I feel like that kind of helps me mentally prepare for this. We thought it was going to be a little rainy at the start but it really just barely started to snow at the beginning and picked up about halfway through, so it was a little bit better than expected.
“Turning that corner into the home stretch into the snow and wind was brutal, but that’s Wisconsin in the springtime and it makes me feel super tough.”
Still, a part of her couldn’t help but think about what it might have been like running in the recent more spring-like weather.
“Given the weather the last few weeks I had pictured sunny and 70s,” she said. “But I should know better.”