26.2 miles worth 25K for his cause

Motivated by message from Olympic gold medalist Bonnie Blair, Grafton High grad completes first marathon to raise money for speed skating organization

MICHAEL SALM (upper left and center) ran the Chicago Marathon last month as a fundraiser for Milwaukee-based Developing Athletes for Speed Skating High Performance (DASH). After the race, the Grafton High School alum posed with DASH President Dave Cruikshank and his wife, DASH Advisory Board member and five-time Olympic speed skating gold medalist Bonnie Blair.

By MITCH MAERSCH

Ozaukee Press staff

It wasn’t skating in an ice rink, but Grafton High School alum Michael Salm appreciated the cool weather for the Chicago Marathon last month.

Salm, the chief business officer for Milwaukee-based Developing Athletes for Speed Skating High-Performance (DASH), finished the marathon and raised nearly $25,000 for the organization.

His time was 3 hours, 29 minutes and 35 seconds. Final results showed that only 18% of the field finished in less than three and a half hours, making Salm proud.

He didn’t have a targeted time.

“My goal was really to finish,” he said.

He also didn’t have any experience. This was his first marathon, and he only trained for two months.

DASH had been working with Bank of America, sponsor of the marathon, and the idea was floated that Salm run the race as a fundraiser.

“OK, eight weeks out, better go,” he said of training.

Salm already was a well-conditioned athlete. He played soccer for the Black Hawks and at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, whose team was once ranked No. 7 in the country. But he hadn’t run anything like a marathon before.

He received some special inspiration from the most decorated woman in Winter Olympics history.

Bonnie Blair, a five-time Olympic gold medalist and world record setter in speed skating, gave Salm a special message from her and her husband Dave Cruikshank, president of DASH, the day before the race.

“Just remember, you’re doing it for DASH and we sponsored that last mile so kick it in when you can,” Salm was told.

That inspiration helped during miles 23 to 25 when “I really hit a wall,” he said.

But Salm made it. Crossing that finish line, he said, “was a pretty awesome feeling.”

Mother Nature could be credited with an assist. It was 45 degrees at the start of the race and 60 by the end with no wind. It also helped that the course was flat.

“If I’m being honest, I’m a little worried that my first marathon experience was too good,” Salm said.

Cruikshank and Blair were on hand to cheer Salm on, as were his parents and brother Matt, a speedskater with DASH who qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 500 and 1,000 meters last year.

Michael Salm also saw a couple of old college friends. One was a volunteer athletic trainer he saw as he crossed the finish line, which made the race all the more special.

He heard a report that 1.3 million people attended and said gaps without fans were no more than 100 yards.

“The course was lined with people,” he said.

The whole experience, he said, was “phenomenal. The production value of the Chicago Marathon blew away any expectations I could have had.”

Salm is also thrilled so much money was raised for DASH, which is trying to revitalize speed skating in southeast Wisconsin to its iconic status of the 1980s.

Salm joined DASH in the summer of 2021 after serving as deputy athletic director and chief of staff for UW-Platteville. He holds degrees from UW-Whitewater in health and human performance, chemistry and coaching and has a degree in legal studies from the Allan “Bud” Selig Master of Sports Law and Business program from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in Phoenix.

Matt convinced him to join DASH.

“Speed skating is the winningest Olympic sport in U.S. history. To play a role in that revitalization, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Michael Salm said.

DASH’s leader, Cruikshank, is a four-time winter Olympian and member of the Speed Skating Hall of Fame who also works as a skating coach for the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. Blair is on the advisory board.

“They are the epitome of servant leaders,” Salm said.

Several Olympic champions are DASH ambassadors, including Dan Jansen, Chris Witty and Casey FitzRandolph.

For more information, visit www.dashskating.org/support.

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