Ashland’s WhistleStop marathon is more than just a race for Steve and Karen Bade. It’s an annual event they haven’t missed – until Karen had to skip this year to be with family — since its inception in 1998. That distinction made the Bades “locomotives” — runners who have raced in every WhistleStop. What’s more, the Bades were part of the running group that, led by Ashland Chamber of Commerce then-Director Russ Korpela, an Ashland native — conceived of WhistleStop.
“There was a small group of us back in the late ‘90s who would run together,” Steve Bade, who is 72 and ran the 13.1-mile half-marathon this year, said. “Many times, we would run in the country and on the old railroad grade. That’s where the concept of doing the event was envisioned. Russ Korpela (now serving as the executive director of the River Falls Chamber of Commerce) set the wheels in motion and the rest is history. That small group included Russ, Cliff Reithel, Dave Wherriitt, Terry and Barb Schemenauer, Donn Christensen, Jerry Jorgenson, Jim White, Karen and me.”