When they’re not organizing running events, Craig and Maddie Braun enjoy running on the Port Washington lakefront
Craig Braun and his two older brothers never played inside growing up.
“We were always doing something active, whether it was riding our dirt bikes, Jet Skiing, go-karting or running,” he said.
It’s that love of the outdoors that led Braun, 24, to take over Lighthouse Events from his father two years ago.
The company provides “a race-day experience that encourages health, activity and fitness,” Braun said.
“We try to make sure that whether you’ve run hundreds of races or are just starting out, that you feel safe and comfortable at our events,” he said.
Braun grew up in Rubicon and ran cross-country at Lake Country Lutheran High School in Hartland and Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon.
Now married, Braun, his wife Maddie, a Grafton High School graduate, and their 1-year-old yellow Labrador puppy Charlie live in Port
Washington and have an office in Grafton.
On race day, a crew of 12 to 15 volunteers helps set up and take down the courses and provide food and water along the routes, Braun said, noting the group puts on about 20 races a year.
One of its biggest events is a six-race winter series from October to March.
“We have between 1,200 and 1,500 people participate in these races in freezing temperatures,” Braun said.
“It’s such a tight-knit community, and they are very much a die-hard group.”
The group also helps organize the Race Pewaukee series, a three-day event that includes a kids-only triathlon, 5k night run, duathlon, an adult sprint triathlon and a women-only half marathon.
“At the end of the women’s race, there are men in tuxedos giving them champagne and fruit,” Braun said. “It’s a little over the top, but it’s a lot of fun.”
This year’s half marathon is Saturday, May 9.
The event draws thousands of runners to a unique course around Pewaukee Lake, he said.
“It’s a pretty flat, scenic course except for a huge hill in the middle that is really a bear,” Braun said.
The group is helping set up the Moonlight Meltdown races in Belgium this weekend to benefit the Snow Runners snowmobile club.
Working 60 to 70 hours a week doesn’t leave much time for competitive racing anymore, Braun said, but he’s training with his brother for an Ironman triathlon in Colorado this summer.
“If I’m at a race now, it’s mostly to support other people I know or setting up a race for the business,” he said.
Much of Braun’s time is dedicated to the Wisconsin Health and Fitness Expo at Milwaukee Lutheran High School in January 2016.
The three-day event will feature local and national vendors showcasing health and fitness products.
An indoor triathlon, cycling time trial and Crossfit competition are also scheduled.
“We’re focusing on more than just triathletes this year,” Braun said. “We expect to get around 20,000 people from all over the country.”
Although Braun said he has much of the event planning down to a science, he still values outside opinions.
“When my wife comes to races, she tells me what we’re doing right and wrong,” he said.
“I’m a lifelong runner, so there are things I just expect at a race, but for someone who hasn’t done this their whole life, many of them have questions. Maddie tells me what we’re missing.”
The best part of running the races, Braun said, is giving back.
His family manages Racers Against Childhood Cancer, a group that raises money for Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer.
“We donate 10% of everything we make to charity,” Braun said. “It feels good to give back as much as we do.”
For Braun, there were myriad reasons to move to Port Washington. His wife’s connection to the area, for one.
The chance to be active 12 months a year was another.
“There are just so many things to do around here at any time of the year,” Braun said. “We’re out on the Interurban Trail as much as possible.
“I’m from the country, so I’m not used to having cars fly by me when I’m running.
“This is a bigger city than I’m used to, but you’re still able to escape for some peace and quiet.”