Camp Randall 100: Gwen Jorgensen

Photo collage of images of former Wisconsin runner and swimmer and Olympic gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen
Photo collage of images of former Wisconsin runner and swimmer and Olympic gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen

The Camp Randall 100 honors a prestigious group of 100 people who shaped the first century of Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin Athletics will reveal a new honoree every day from May 24 until the Badgers’ 2017 opening game on Sept. 1 against Utah State.


“I just kind of wanted to come out and use the gift that I’ve been given.”

— Future Olympic triathlon gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen after
winning the 2010 Crazylegs Classic in Camp Randall Stadium


BY ANDY BAGGOT | UWBadgers.com Insider

Photo of Gwen Jorgensen (USA) on the podium with her gold medal for the triathlon in Rio de Janeiro (Photo by Thierry Deketelaere/ZUMA Wire/Icon Sportswire)
Gwen Jorgensen

Shortly after winning the Crazylegs Classic women’s race in 2010, Gwen Jorgensen offered up a thought to a reporter that still resonates.

“I just kind of wanted to come out and use the gift that I’ve been given,” she told the Wisconsin State Journal.

The gift is a world-class combination of fitness, endurance and pluck.

It allowed Jorgensen to enjoy a unique dual-sport career as a swimmer and distance runner at Wisconsin.

It allowed her to claim back-to-back Crazylegs women’s races in 2010 and ’11, crossing the famed Camp Randall Stadium finish line in an unofficial 8-kilometer course record time of 26 minutes, 48 seconds in her debut.

It allowed Jorgensen to become a world champion triathlete in 2014 and ’15.

It allowed her stand atop the Olympic podium, representing the United States, after winning an unprecedented gold medal in women’s triathlon in 2016.

Jorgensen is the first UW woman to win an Olympic title in an individual event.

A lot of exceptional Wisconsin athletes have found glory inside Camp Randall, but few have followed a path as unique as Jorgensen.

She came from Waukesha (Wisconsin) South High School to swim for the Badgers in 2004. She did that for three years before opting for cross country and track.

Jorgensen was so accomplished as a student-athlete that she earned the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor in 2009 and received a master’s degree in accounting.

She had a job lined up in Milwaukee when USA Triathlon officials encouraged her to try her hand at triathlons, which feature distance swimming, biking and running.

The rest is history.

The Crazylegs Classic has been around for 37 years and one of its neatest features is the finish mark at the 50-yard line inside Camp Randall Stadium.

The springtime event is named for the late, great Hall of Famer Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch, who not only played halfback for the Badgers inside the 100-year-old facility, he directed its upkeep as athletic director from 1969 to ’87.

The Crazylegs Classic was introduced as a fundraiser for the UW Athletic Department, a focus that continues to this day.

The course winds through the scenic Madison campus and the race attracts participants from all over the world. It’s especially popular with UW students like Jorgensen.

“It’s nice to come back and give back to UW athletics, even if it’s minimal,” she said after winning her second Crazylegs in a time of 27:47 in 2011.

Jorgensen won a $2,500 Trek bike for finishing first in that race, an appropriate reward that she put to good use in her world-class triathlon training.

Now 31, married and a first-time mother after giving birth to son Stanley on Aug. 16, Jorgensen laid the foundation for her international athletic career at UW.

After three years of swimming for the Badgers, she turned her sights to cross country and track. She swept the Big Ten indoor titles in the 3000 and 5000 meters in 2009 and competed at the NCAA championships in both sports.

That prep work helps explain why Jorgensen, a two-time U.S. Olympian, has won two world championships, a record 17 event titles in the World Triathlon Series – no other woman has won more than five – and last year finished in the top 20 in the New York City Marathon.

Jorgensen is no stranger to finishes lines, including those at Camp Randall.

Thin Photo collage of images of former Wisconsin runner and swimmer and Olympic gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen