Time once again to look back on the year in local recreation, render capricious appraisals and dole out the fourth annual Reccie Awards.
While prestigious as all get-out, the awards come with no trophies or medals ' unless you count the impressive facsimile printed on this page, which Reccie laureates are welcome to cut out, paste to a piece of cardboard and display. There is no formal ceremony. No scholarships or other windfalls of any kind are attached.
But maybe, when you tell your friends and neighbors that you are a Reccie laureate, you'll enjoy their esteem and admiration. And so, without further ado: On your marks, get set, go.
Runners of the Year
Over the course of this year's Madison Area Running Series ' which encompasses 16 races ranging in distance from the Capitol Mile to the Lake Monona 20K ' Mary Anne Hinkes and Andrew Schroeder distinguished themselves as two of the most consistent, versatile runners in the vicinity. Competing in the women's 50-59 age group, Hinkes accrued 127 points in her best 12 races ' the most of any woman enrolled in the series. Schroeder, meanwhile, accumulated 135 points in his 12 best races, tops among all males and a feat rendered all the more remarkable because he competes in the hotly contested men's 20-29 age group.
18 Holes of the Year
Vitense Golfland's new indoor Madison mini-golf course includes the Capitol building, the field at Camp Randall Stadium, the UW Field House and other local landmarks ' along with lakes Mendota and Monona. No more whining when winter closes the outdoor Wisconsin and California courses at Vitense!
Endurance Athlete of the Year
Winning the Ironman Wisconsin with a time of nine hours, seven minutes and change is mighty impressive ' but that's the sort of thing professional triathletes do for a living. My greatest respect is reserved for those triathletes who persevere for almost twice as long ' swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 and then running a marathon to finish long after dark. People like the last Madison entrant to cross the finish line, a few seconds under 16 hours, 56 minutes ' behind 2,164 earlier finishers but ahead of eight more triathletes who squeaked in under the 17-hour cutoff, and 265 more people who started this year's Ironman Wisconsin and tried to finish but did not. People like Michael Bender: Now, that's endurance.
Fearsome Undertaking of the Year
The fact that only 32 riders finished August's 300-kilometer triple-dog Dairyland Dare ' with a Himalayan 22,000 feet of total climbing over the hills of southwest Wisconsin's Driftless Area ' suggests that DD organizers may have approached the limits of what even the most masochistic cyclists can talk themselves into.
Rookie of the Year
With more than 60 members split into four teams, the Madison Gay Hockey Association is a full-fledged league in its debut season. Going into a holiday break from the action at Madison Ice Arena, Team Black is atop the standings with six points at 2-1-2, but teams Grey and Teal ' the latter featuring the notorious Men of Teal ' are only one point behind at 2-2-1. And while Team Red trails with four points at 1-2-2, it is the only team to have outscored opponents in cumulative points through the first five games. So there is the promise of league parity all the way through the gala championship celebration at the end of February.
Blog of the Year
Dormant since August, the Wisconsin River Groups Blog at wisconsinrivergroups.blogspot.com was, for a few months this summer, a free-flowing interactive networking forum for state river activists ' as rich in resources as watersheds themselves. Here's hoping it revives with the spring thaw.