Letter to the editor by the event planners of the cancelled Muck Suck Run.

Planning the Muck-Suck trail run – perspective from the event planners. The Muck-Suck 20-ish trail event around Lake Geneva’s Lakeshore path was named after a Potawatomi Chief who lived on the lake. It was designed as a charity event supporting myTEAM TRIUMPH – Wisconsin Chapter (mTT), a human service organization that enriches the lives of those with diverse abilities through a teamwork approach of endurance athletics. The Wisconsin Chapter is one of 30+ chapters of the international organization. mTT (myTeam Triumph) brings people of diverse abilities together to train for and participate in road races and triathlons of all different distances. Started in 2010 by Christian Jensen, a native of Lake Geneva, who currently lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the organization has grown rapidly since its inception. On an annual basis mTT currently serves more than 500 athletes with disabilities called Captains and 3000 able-bodied athletes called Angels in 40+ community events around the state. mTT is governed by a Board of Directors and lead by full-time executive director Christian Jensen and two part-time staff members. mTT executes its programs thanks to the vital support of the volunteer leaders in seven major communities around the state of Wisconsin, including Lake Geneva.

In late 2016 mTT began discussions to put on a small, fun, non-competitive trail run/walk around the beautiful lakeshore path of Lake Geneva. From the start of planning, our goal was to provide a safe and community enriching experience for all involved and to use the event to educate the public about the path. This public path is widely regarded as one of the most scenic around. Covering more than 20 miles of lakeshore, the path treats adventurers to the stunning views of Lake Geneva. mTT employed a professional event director to plan the event. During the process, one of our biggest questions we had was around appropriate usage of the lake path. We knew that the path was a public space that went through private property and that there were guidelines such as staying off private property. However, what wasn’t clear was if permission was required to use the path and if so, who we needed to ask permission from. We knew that events have been held and are still held on the path. In talking with local officials and the associates of these events, the common answer to our question was that no permission was required as it is a public space.

So, we began planning the event! Led by the director, the event committee reached out to community officials to obtain necessary and requested permits for use of parks and other spaces. We connected with partners, sponsors and began the marketing process! As the event neared, a group of residents expressed opposition to the use of the path for our event. Their main concern was that the event could damage the historic path. Anytime you put on an event, you know that there will be people who would prefer the event not take place. We answered as many concerns as we could and attempted to find common ground and adaptations to answer their concerns while still keeping the essence of the event intact. During this time, we continued to investigate the history of the path and if there indeed were rules and regulations regarding appropriate path usage. The closest thing we found were the signs posted by the Geneva Lakes Association (GLA) on the path. The signs state a number of “rules” of the path such as respecting private property, avoiding bicycling, sporting events and more. In the recent weeks, the concerns continued to grow and a group of homeowners reported to us that they would take legal action against the event to try and prevent it from happening. Some even threatened to physically barricade the path to prevent the event from taking place. Our event committee again tried to understand if these concerns were based on the opinion of a few homeowners or if there was a law or ordinance we were breaking. Still, nothing concrete was found by our team. We had more discussions with the homeowners and public officials and at this time, it was clear that we would not be able to come to a compromise.

As a result, we believed that in the best interests of the community, to protect the path and to avoid any unfortunate race-day complications, the best solution would be to cancel the event. We greatly respect the position of the homeowners, GLA and others who opposed the event taking place on the path and ultimately made the decision to cancel to respect their wishes. We at myTEAM TRIUMPH apologize to all who have registered for the event as well as Lake Geneva area residents who had concerns. We would like to thank our sponsors, public officials and Lake Geneva residents for their support and for voicing their concerns. What is the legacy of this experience? Through this process, we have learned of the vastly differing opinions of how the lake path can and should be used. These opinions range from “the path should be private only” to “the path is public to anyone, for any use”. We believe the lack of clarity of usage was the primary reason for so much friction between opposers and supporters of the event. It is our hope that this situation prompts local residents and public officials to come together for a broad and inclusive conversation about the path usage. We believe this should include multiple parties and there should be clear, publicly accessible guidelines so unfortunate circumstances such as this do not take place in the future.

We are still planning on hosting a celebration in Elm (Library Park) at 11am on Sunday, May 28th to educate the public about the mission of myTEAM TRIUMPH and the programs we offer to enrich the lives of people with diverse abilities in the Lake Geneva area. Free food and refreshments from Simple Cafe will be available to all who attend! mTT will continue to serve people with disabilities in Lake Geneva by helping them build authentic relationships with community members through endurance events. Our hope is that the community continues to embrace these special individuals through our programs! For more information regarding myTEAM TRIUMPH, please navigate to www.myteamtriumph@wi.org Christian Jensen-Executive Director, myTEAM TRIUMPH Wisconsin

The Geneva Shore Report encourages everyone to attend and support this fine organization with your generosity

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