Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Iowa's Best Road Races

In a previous post I listed The Best Fun Runs In America.  I would love to run all of those races, but many of them take place hundreds of miles away from Iowa.  This motivated me to make up a new list of races that take place closer to home.  Hopefully someday soon I will be able to say I have run in each one of these races.

Dam to Dam
Iowa's Distance Classic.  This is probably Iowa's most popular race, so make sure to sign up early, as registration caps off at 8,000 and it tends to fill up quickly.  The Dam to Dam takes place in late-May/early-June.  This 20K run begins in the middle of Saylorville Dam and ends in downtown Des Moines.  The first half of the scenic route winds through the backroads of Iowa's countryside and the second half through the streets of downtown Des Moines.

I ran the Dam to Dam last year and it is my favorite race I've ever run.  The fun begins at packet pickup with lots of refreshments and entertainment.  Race day is filled with even more fun.  Every one is in great spirits and the course is filled with bright T-Shirts & signs with fun/clever sayings like "Where's the Dam finish line?"  Lot's of friends, family, and spectators come out to cheer the runners along the course.  But the real fun comes at the finish line with a big sense of accomplishment, refreshments, and a post-race party.

 Next year will mark the 35th annual Dam to Dam.  A 5K and youth run are also available.
Living History Farms Off Road Race
Taking place at the end of November, this is a great way to end the race season.  The course treks across farm land on Iowa's famous live history outdoor museum.  Runners face challenging obstacles such as creeks, farm animals, and gullies.  You can participate individually or with a team.  Many participants wear fun costumes.  I'm running my first LHF race in about 2 weeks and I can't wait!

This year will mark the 35th annual LHF Race.
IMT Des Moines Marathon/Half Marathon/5K
The largest and fastest marathon in Iowa, it takes place in mid-October.  The course winds through downtown Des Moines and includes a loop around Gray's Lake.  Runners of all abilities can participate by choosing between the marathon, half marathon, and 5K races.  At the finish line you will find a post-race party and lots of free food courtesy of the many sponsors.  I ran the half marathon this year and I had a blast.  This race is well run with a great sense of community.

Next year will mark the 13th annual Des Moines Marathon.
HyVee Triathlon
Taking place on Labor Day Weekend, this race combines swimming, biking, and running into one challenging competition.  The course winds through downtown Des Moines and the swimming portion takes place in Gray's Lake.  This event is open to all athletes both professional and amateur.  You can even sign up with a relay team and only compete in one leg of the course.  Use the Tri Match-up website to find other people looking to join a relay team. Next year I hope to join a relay team as the runner.

Next year will be the 8th annual HyVee Triathlon.  The triathlon demonstrates HyVee's dedication to promoting good health and nutrition.
HyVee Road Races at the Drake Relays
Half Marathon, 10K, or 5K race at the Drake Relays, known as one of the most important track and field meets in the world.  Taking place in late April, top athletes come from all around the world to participate on Drake University's blue track.  All road races begin on Drake's campus and are open to walkers & runners of all abilities.  As a Des Moines native, I attend the Drake Relays almost every year.  I love the sense of community and tradition that seems to grow stronger every year.

This year will mark the 105th Drake Relays.  This is another event that highlights HyVee's dedication to promoting good health and nutrition.
Midnight Madness
This race takes place on the streets of downtown Ames.  You have the option of running a 15K, 10K, or a 5K.  The race starts at 7:30 PM and ends with a post-race party.  Midnight Madness is part of the Iowa Games which take place each July.

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