He may have won the past two Crazylegs Classic races, but Tyler Sigl is anything but complacent when it comes to this year’s competition.
“I just registered. I have to defend my title,” he said with a laugh.
Sigl is gearing up for the Apr. 26 race, which marks his fifth time competing in Crazylegs, having placed second in 2010 and 2011 prior to two first-place victories in 2012 and 2013.
While he says the Madison race is his favorite, Sigl – a Green Bay resident who works part-time out of DeForest’s Sanimax office – has competed in a host of other races and has won many of them. The Green Bay Half Marathon, Racine’s Lighthouse Run, Fox Cities’ half marathon and Oshkosh’s half marathon are all among his many first-place finishes.
Running just comes naturally to Sigl. Growing up in Seymour, Wis., Sigl aspired to be a football player, but by his freshman year in high school it was apparent his propensity was toward running. He joined cross country at Seymour High School with the encouragement of friends and coaches.
In his senior year he made it to State. With that success, he chose a school that would allow him to continue to compete while pursuing a degree.
“I went to University of Wisconsin – Platteville because of their engineering degree,” he said. “I figured I’d go to school for what I wanted to go to school for and do running on the side. But, my running on the side turned out to be pretty competitive.”
At Platteville, Sigl won two 10,000-meter outdoor national championships and an individual NCAA III cross country championship.
After securing multiple running victories and a mechanical engineering degree, Sigl began working as an engineer at Sanimax upon graduation. While a talented runner, Sigl said landing a steady 40 hour-a-week job was the right choice, rather than pursuing the sport as a career.
“The next level would be becoming a full-time runner and I had met my wife already in college,” he said. “We got engaged and already planned on starting a family. So work was a little more important. You don’t make a whole lot of money being a full-time competitive runner. I figured I’d just continue running as much as I was but do it on the side.”
For Sigl, running “on the side” has meant competing in a dozen races annually and integrating it into his everyday lifestyle.
“I run to and from work, which is six and a half miles each way,” he said.
Those routine trips, in combination with additional training, can add up to as many as 100 miles per week.
Even now with an eight-month-old daughter he plans to run his daughter home from daycare in a stroller.
“I’d describe running as a hobby, passion and lifestyle,” he said. “It’s something I enjoy doing and am successful at.”
But Sigl isn’t the only talented runner in the family. His wife Jessica runs alongside him, and placed second among women in Crazylegs in 2012.
“It’s nice to have some camaraderie instead of running by myself all the time,” he said.
Upon completing college, Sigl realized he performed better in long-distance running and began competing in marathons. In 2010, he ran the Twin Cities Marathon in 2 hours, 17 minutes and 28 seconds, soundly meeting the 2:19 Olympic trials qualifying standard.
He attended the 2012 Olympic trials race in Houston. In the face of stiff competition, however, Sigl came in 46th overall, preventing him from seizing one of the coveted top three spots required to qualify for the Olympics.
“I didn’t get in the top three but it’s still an accomplishment to say you ran in Olympic trials,” he said.
Sigl hasn’t given up the dream, however. After this year’s Crazylegs, he plans to run the Green Bay marathon and a couple 50 mile races this fall, with the goal of running a fast marathon next year to qualify again for the Olympic trial race. His strategy is simply to become faster.
“I’m planning to get in more miles – quicker miles,” he said.
If Sigl were to qualify for the 2016 Olympics, the opportunity would be nothing short of surreal.
“I probably wouldn’t even know what to do,” he said. “Most of the competitive guys have sponsorships and stipends from all sorts of shoe companies, so they’re used to dealing with all that. For me, if I go running, and someone says ‘Want some free shoes?’ I’d just say, ‘sure.’”
In the meantime, Sigl will head to Crazylegs in a few weeks in hopes of not only maintaining his best time of 24:00, but also of having some fun.
“Crazylegs is one of the most fun races,” he said. “The atmosphere, the after-party, all the alumni from college that come back together, it’s a good time.”