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In 1982, a new Madison tradition began: the Crazylegs Classic. But who was Crazylegs, anyway? The answer is Elroy Hirsch x’42, the former Badgers triple-threat halfback who went on to become the UW’s athletic director for 18 years. The Wausau, Wisconsin native played for the Badgers until 1943, when he was transferred to the University of Michigan with his Marine Corps V-12 unit. He went pro with the Chicago Rockets in 1945, and later moved to the Los Angeles Rams. After his retirement in 1957, Hirsch was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame and named one of the NFL’s top 100 greatest players. But it was while playing for the UW that Hirsch was given the nickname “Crazylegs.” Chicago sportswriter Francis Powers, who was covering the 1942 game between Wisconsin and Great Lakes Naval Station, watched as Hirsch ran 61 yards for a touchdown. Powers wrote that “his crazy legs were gyrating in six different directions all at the same time,” and the rest, as they say, is history. Now, each spring, Madison-area runners honor Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch and his devotion to UW athletics by participating in the Crazylegs Classic race, which includes an eight-kilometer run/wheelchair and a two-mile walk that ends in Camp Randall Stadium. This year’s race starts at 10 a.m. tomorrow with Mike Leckrone as the Grand Marshal.

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