Dam Backpocket 7 Miler – 2015

Saturday August 22, 2015. 5pm. Sunny, 80 degrees

This is the third year for this race. There are 2 options a 5k and a 7 miler. The race is a point to point, finishing at the Backpocket Brewery.

Registration: On the first day of registration there was a special online deal, the first registrants got $1 entry, the next group $5 entry and then there was $10 entry. When all those slots were filled, registration started at $25, then increased to $50 up to the day before the race. There was no race day registration. Included with registration was a pint glass – gender specific, short sleeve cotton tee – post race beer – bib and timing chip.

I was fortunate enough to register for $1. I figured for that price, if something came up, I wouldn’t be out. I also have ran this race the past 2 years, and was on the fence about running it again. The first 2 years of the race the shirt was a Nike tech fit, this year the shirt ran super small and fit strange. However after the race I was able to exchange for a men’s sized shirt, it’s still big, but I can wear it

Expo/Packet Pickup: There was no expo, but there were 3 packet pick up times. The first was held at the running store, and the others at the nearby hotel. Everyone had to sign a paper wavier to get their things. Someone could pick up your packet with a signed permission slip. Parking is a problem downtown Iowa City for the running store pick up, and there is a pay ramp at the hotel. There were a few flyers in the bag with some coupons and reminders of upcoming races.

Pick up is not a pain if you are getting your own packet, however picking up for someone else is a headache. I run A LOT of races, of all sizes, lots with beer at the finish, most of them I register online. Through that process there is always the wavier you agree to, so you just pick up your packet. However it was strange, you had to sign a wavier in person and if you were grabbing another’s they had to send you with a printed out permission slip to get it. I am not sure why all the waivers. I have been asked for ID at pickup to ensure it’s actually you, which makes sense.


Pre-race: Parking was available at a free, nearby parking ramp, 2 blocks away. This being a point to point race, participants for both distances were encouraged to arrive by 3:50 to take a shuttle bus to the start. Buses started loading, but had to ask to make sure you were on the right one to get to your race. The last bust was scheduled to leave at 4:10. The ride was about 15 minutes long. There were only 5 buses. I think one bus brought the stragglers.


Once to the starting area, at the Coralville Dam. There were 3 port-a potties, and volunteers filling cups with water. Announcements were shouted through a bull horn. There is no shade. The race starts on a road, the only road crossing the dam and it is open to traffic, making it congested.

There were flags marking the starting line, and once it was time to start, the timing mat was thrown across the street and the race began.

Point to point races can be a pain, the shuttle bus system works, but it was a little confusion as to which bus we should board. I also felt the buses left for the start super early. We stood around near the start for about 20 minutes in the sun. I was also meeting my sister at this race, she had waited around to board the bus at the Brewery. Once at the Brewery, she was scolded for being in their patio and not ordering food. There was no other area to wait for the buses.


Race / Course: The 7 miler starts at the Dam and ends at the Brewery.

  • All paved surfaces. asphalt & cement. No major pot holes. Started on road way, then back and forth between sidewalks, paths and roads.
  • Hilly
  • Many water only stops with paper cups
  • Volunteers at all turns and intersections. The County Sheriff was at the major road crossings
  • No mile markers
  • Not many spectators
  • Roads open to traffic
  • No photographers
  • No food on course
  • One port-a-potty on course, but this is were the 5k started.
  • Not a lot of shade

Since I have run this course and I run these parts of town, I was familiar with the rolling hills. I also carried a hand held water bottle as in previous years the water stops were out when I passed, and I am a middle of the pack runner. 

Finish/Post Race: The finish was marked with flags and a timing mat. Once across there were bottles of water and Gatorade. A sponsor was handing out metal water bottles. You could then double back on the side to get a print out of your results, then proceed to the beer patio to claim a glass bottle of the New Bo Ale. Once everyone had finished awards were announced. Then after that there was a stein holding contest.


The finish of this is where I toy with the idea that I will never run this again – every year. This year there was absolutely no food at the finish. Each year this has declined. The first year there was cookies, bagels, oranges, bananas and each person got 3 Scratch cupcakes. Then last year was super strange, when I finished the only thing left was a half of a banana. Ok, so you do get a free beer…but hey an apple or cookie is nice. I guess they are really encouraging purchasing the brewery’s food, which is limited to pizza and the like, however it does the opposite and I don’t want to buy anything there and spend my money else where.

Yes, I know I only paid $1, but that was a promotion. There are people who paid $50 for an ill fitting shirt and a free beer. I am not sure if the RD has gotten lazy, or the sponsors just wont cooperate. I like to run races I can sleep in my own bed to attend, but if I am not happy with it, I am not going to continue to participate. I will travel and have fun at races that appreciate me attending.

Overall: I am happy I got in for only $1. As I say every year, not sure I would run this again for a free beer. There are many other races that offer the same, and I enjoy more.

Personal: This was race #2 of the day. Laura, Josh and I were fresh off the road from Madison, WI. I think we all just had the goal to finish. We met up with Amber and Tereasa. T was going to run the 5k. Laura and I ran with Amber, which was nice, some biker even passed us and shouted “keep up the good work amigos” as we all ran in Sparkle Athletic skirts. I think us three all finished near 1:25 ish in time. Amber had never race this far.


We didn’t stick around for the awards or stein holding contest as Josh and I were headed to Chicago for our next race of the weekend.


Make sure to check out all the reviews for this race at Bibrave.com

4 thoughts on “Dam Backpocket 7 Miler – 2015

  1. It’s always discouraging when you find a good race in it beginning year and then the quality fades away over the years. As an RD, I am trying to avoid stuff like this from happening while trying to be wise with my resources.

  2. Pingback: 2015 year in review | Angie Runs

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