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Rails to Trails began in 2007 as a Boston Marathon Qualifier, but now includes a one-mile fun run, a 5K, and a half marathon. Several different groups and tons of volunteers from the surrounding community, along with a scenic route and 3/4 mile tunnel, make this a unique marathon experience. We are proud to say that 100% of the proceeds are donated back to the surrounding communities.

Where we are

Rails to trails location

We are located in the scenic Coulee Region of Wisconsin. You can find the race start at:

104 Railroad St
Norwalk WI 54648



As the name of our race indicates,  the route follows an abandoned railroad line that runs from Elroy to Sparta (and beyond) that has since been turned into the Elroy-Sparta bike trail. But this race won’t stretch that full distance.

Instead, the starting and finishing points are one and the same location in the Village park located at 104 Mill Street Norwalk. So naturally, the race is an out and back but everything is clearly marked and volunteers will be at the turnaround point. There will also be aid stations along the way.

The route also includes a tunnel. This tunnel is also a hibernation spot for four different species of bats. Because of this, flashlights are not permitted at the time of the race. However, the tunnel will be lit by red lanterns.

Our route is walker-friendly too, so don’t forget to tell your friends and family.

As was mentioned elsewhere, this race is run as a non-profit organization with all proceeds going to help local communities. Here are just a few of the things support from people like you has done:

 * Award three scholarships per year towards college tuition
 * Provided handicap-accessible playground equipment to 2 different parks
 * Funds for creek restoration
 * Tables for the community center
 * Help to maintain the very trail you run on
 * Lights for the Norwalk Ballfield
 * High Jump mat for the N.O.W. School district
 * Funds to the fire dept. for the pump truck and new radios
 * $15000.00 donated to renovating the Norwalk library
 * Funds for the flower baskets on Main St. every year

Race route

The course is on the Elroy-Sparta bike trail. This trail is crushed limestone on the old railroad bed. The marathon and half marathon go through a lighted 3/4 mile long tunnel. The course is an out and back with a 3% uphill grade on both sides of the tunnel.
(Click images to view larger.)


The Rails to Trails Marathon in Norwalk, WI is run by a non-profit consisting of all volunteer members.

Current committee members include:
President/Secretary – Theresa Lehner
Treasurer – Barb Ornes
Web Director – Jesica Helgren
Member – Kim Nofsinger
Member – Mary Beth Hanson
Member – Sharon Karis