Sunny, about 80 degrees, HUMID!!! 8:30 am. Iowa City, IA.
This review is long as I chose to write it differently.
It’s no secret I like to run all the races. There are a lot of area races this weekend, and I was excited for a race in my hometown. Nothing better than sleeping in your own bed, and not having to wake up extremely early to get to a race.
This race is part of the Regina (local school) Fall Festival. In addition to the 10k there is a 5k and one mile race.
I was able to register online for $25-$30. Race day registration was available. Included was a bib, and soft cotton, unisex short sleeve t-shirt. Participants could also save $1 on the brunch later in the day.
There was a packet pick up at the festival the evening before, or you could grab your bib before the race.
The race morning started like any other. I had my coffee, wheat english muffin with peanut butter and caught up with social media. Since I already had my bib number, I needed to put together the perfect outfit and get to the race on time.
I arrived near the start at about 8:00am. I knew I needed to park so I could leave when it was done without a headache, to make it to my next destination, an outdoor market. There was plenty of parking on the back side of the school, but it would have been difficult for leaving. I am not sure what the bathroom situation was, but I am sure there were port-o-potties available for the festival nearby.
The one mile race had just started when I arrived, the kids were off first, full of energy, and it wrapped up with some walkers in the back. I overheard some say they should move to the sidewalk, as the roads were open and busy with traffic, and there was not a bike or patrol car following the last person.
I watched the racers come to the finish, and did a little jog and found the starting line, on the open street. Runners had gathered and a guy with a bull horn showed up. He said the race would start on “Go” there was no timing chips, just a clock that started. The 5k & 10k started at the same time. There was a moped that led the runners. (for how long, I am not sure)
This race was small, about 100-150 participants. No encouragement to line up according to pace, but everyone seemed to do that on their own, YAY!! No National Anthem. The guy said “Go!” and I hit start on my watch.
I had looked at the route that was posted online, and knew it was going to be hilly, with the steepest incline near the last mile. I also was aware of the heat, humidity and lack of shade. Since I sat outside the day before, all I had been doing is drinking water, Gatorade, and eating watermelon. Ok I had one beer 🙂
The first few blocks, on the city streets I tried to take it slow and not go out too fast. We passed one patrol car guarding the first busy intersection. The streets were all paved and there were no major potholes. When we came to the first turn a few blocks in, the road was marked with chalk arrows. As I ran all turns were marked this way and with yard marker signs. There were some volunteers on the 5k route telling you which way to turn.
After that first turn we were still running on the streets, but they were not busy. We transferred to a sidewalk and came upon the first hydration stop at around mile 1.5. We were still with the 5k runners. I approached the stop and the energetic students were shouting “Gatorade” I was like “no water?” I grabbed a paper cup of red Gatorade, which was a nice change from the standard lemon-lime and was on my way.
I was hot and sweaty. There was a small out and back section, before we parted way with the 5k runners. Then it was as if I was on my own. With a small race it’s not a big deal. I was trying to stay consistent with time. My first mile was around 9 minutes, and I thought with the heat I could stick with that, however at mile 2, I was at 9:48, I really needed some water.
When we got to the part where we needed to turn on Scott Blvd, a really busy intersection, there was no one with the race near, no one alerting traffic. So you might have had to stop, to safely cross the road. The miles we ran on Scott Blvd were when the hills started and there is no shade. This part was all run on sidewalks. Lucky for me, a woman pushing a stroller passed me on the uphill, I wasn’t out there alone.
Mile 3 came, and there was no water stop. I was running a little faster than the last, mostly because I didn’t want to lose sight of the woman with the stroller. Other than her, and a few other runners in the distance there were no spectators.
However by mile 4, I was toast. I was running 10 minute pace and there was no water stop. However I topped the hill and saw a water cooler in the distance. The cooler was after another busy road crossing with no volunteers or officers. I crossed the road and asked, “water?” They said “no” I knew if I didn’t take any red Gatorade I would really be hurting, so I took a drink and moved along. I really wanted water, and wanted to dump some on my head.
This little loop of the race was on an entrance to a business, so running on the road was not a problem. Then before mile 5 we were back on Scott Blvd sidewalk. This is when I noticed someone on my tail. I didn’t care if they passed me, all I was dreaming about when crossing the finish line was some water.
I knew there was also the super steep hill near the finish. I was now running conservatively. I hate the dehydration headache and I knew I was going to be battling this if I didn’t get some water. At this point the race was all on sidewalk.
I topped the last hill, made the last turn and could see the finish. It was clearly marked with flags and the finishing clock. The last few yards finished in the grass.
As I crossed the finish line I was handed a participant ribbon and headed straight for the post race drinks. I spotted the water cooler and noticed a woman filling a cup, I asked “is that water?” she said “yes” Then we made small talk about the water situation.
I then went to grab a cup to fill, NO CUPS!!! Some kid made some silly remark… I was soooo mad, I said, “I need water” and stormed off. I had a bottle in my car. I have never been so angry at the finish of a race. I don’t know if there was food or bottled Gatorade, or anything else happening at the finish. I just left! I wasn’t sticking around for someone to find cups, maybe they did. I needed that bottle of water in my car.
I made it to my car and guzzled that water. I live maybe 2 miles from where I parked, I had almost drank the 20 oz bottle by the time I got home.
I’ve been thinking about this race and situation all day. My first thought was, maybe I missed something on the information sheet, about this being a race with no hydration or something. So I checked :
hmm looks like there was to be water on the course.
It also didn’t appear there was a lack of volunteers at the water stops. I get that Gatorade or an electrolyte is an essential need on a hot day too, but I think water should be a main concern. I wonder if some people passed all together because they have intestinal issues and read there was water on the course?
Next I thought, maybe it’s my fault: never assume and always carry your own hydration. I have always been one to make fun of those carrying water on 5k’s. Lesson learned! If it’s a hot race, I will bring something to drink. When it’s cooler I can run 10 miles with no water, but this heat & humidity bothered me.
Then I thought about whether or not safety was even considered on this race. First with the obvious water problems, but then with the lack of marshals on the course at busy intersections. I paid to run this race, no matter how many people sign up, there should be road permits or volunteers at each busy intersection.
I also know this was only the 2nd year for the 10k, but the 5k has been going on for a while. It’s not a first year race. I’ve ran other races starting at this location. The Blue / Gold 5k which was a similar route and then Thanksgiving race and Red Shamrock race which start on the trail near the back of the school.
I am trying to pick out some positives. I did like that the course was posted, so I was prepared for the hills. I also like that each person received a finisher’s ribbon. Also the price for a 10k was great, and the shirt wasn’t bad either. Also being an experienced runner was a positive, I knew to slow down.
I’ve been asked, “what race should a person run in Iowa?” Well, I never recommend a race in Iowa City, why can’t they be as great as all the ones I travel hours to get to? Don’t get me wrong we have some good ones, but there are never any spectators, and there is always some quirky problem. Why can’t we have fun races, well organized races?
Maybe I am biased because I run so many races….However for those who ran their first 10k today, don’t let this discourage you, there are plenty of fun ones out there.
I’ve spent the better part of the day, drinking more water and gatorade and trying to eat salty things. I understand water can dilute your system and all that, so you need the electrolytes Gatorade offers, but you can’t dump it on your head either. I think my headache is finally gone, and according to the pee chart I am well hydrated.
I will just remember to read through all race information and bring my water bottle next time. Cuz there will be a next time, like tomorrow I have a 5 mile race. (but I’ve run it before, it’s a good one, an hour away)
Now I wonder where the official results are? They must not be uploaded yet, I can’t find them at this link: http://icfallfunfest.com/ My garmin had a 58 min finish time with just 6 miles.
I will be adding this review to Bibrave.com. I think this race is why the site was designed. If you loved / hated a race, make sure to tell everyone.