One of Mike Cerniglia’s priorities as coordinator of the Crazylegs Classic is reeling former student-athletes back to the University of Wisconsin.
The 2018 edition of Crazylegs is no different, with assists from former Badgers basketball players Alando Tucker and Shawna Nicols.
Tucker, who was hired in February as the athletic department’s director of student-athlete engagement, will serve as Crazylegs grand marshal on Saturday.
The Crazylegs Classic — comprised of an 8-kilometer run and 2-mile walk — was named in honor of iconic former UW football player and athletic director Elroy Hirsch and is used as a fundraiser for the athletic department. The Crazylegs Classic begins at Capitol Square and ends inside Camp Randall Stadium.
Tucker is the leading scorer in UW men’s basketball history, scoring 2,217 points from 2002 to ’07. He was named Big Ten Conference Player of the Year during his senior season and received All-American honors.
Nicols, a guard for the women’s team from 2001 to ’03, will provide post-race music entertainment. Nicols, also known as DJ Shawna, is a highly regarded disc jockey in Milwaukee. She has performed at Milwaukee Bucks, Milwaukee Brewers and Marquette women’s basketball games, in addition to the NCAA women’s Final Four last month.
“When you’re a current student-athlete here, there’s a big heart pull to give to the community with going to the children’s hospital and into the schools,” said Cerniglia, a former UW hockey player who has led the National W Club as executive director since 2014.
“Once we leave and become letterwinners and alumni, there still is that heart pull to give back. So this is an opportunity for that, and also to bring people back to campus.”
Whether they know it or not, runners and walkers will interact with student-athlete alumni along the course. Bob Joers, a former UW swimmer who works as Middleton’s athletic director, will help at the starting line on Capitol Square.
Other UW letterwinners will volunteer at the race packet pick-up tables on Friday at the Kohl Center. All the alumni are organized through an athletic department volunteer program called Badgers Give Back.
Meanwhile, Cerniglia said there are a couple of aspects that he’s particularly pleased about with regard to this year’s Crazylegs.
The run and walk both will start in the same location on the top of State Street. Due to construction in recent years, the starts were split at separate locations.
Since participants enjoy collecting race t-shirts, the shirts have become mementos every year. Cerniglia worked with Under Armour to create the event’s first high performance “tech tee.” Under Armour’s tech fabric is quick drying, soft, and more durable compared to standard cotton.
The Crazylegs Classic is held on the final Saturday in April. A total of 12,629 people — 3,574 walkers and 9,055 runners — participated in the 2017 event, in cold and windy weather conditions. The event will be held for the 37th time on Saturday.
The 2017 event had a decrease in participants for a second consecutive year. A total of 13,182 runners and walkers participated in the 2016 Crazylegs. The record for registrants took place in 2010 with 20,445 runners and walkers.
Cerniglia mentioned that participants filled out a Crazylegs survey this year, and many people asked for better weather. Organizers have mulled a summer date, but that likely won’t happen.
“There are so many other events going on,” said Cerniglia of the summer months. “We didn’t want to steal away from any other community event to raise money. We want to be a great community partner.”