Saturday January 23, 2016. Amana, IA. Race Start 10 am. Sunny 30 degrees.
This is one of my favorite area races. It also helps it’s about the only race in my area in the month of January. The organization does a great job. In fact you probably have seen my recaps from the previous years.
The race is part of the town’s winter festival which includes a wine and beer tour. Nothing really gets underway until after the race is complete. I am not sure if this is why the race has a later start time, or just because this time of the year the weather is unpredictable.
I traveled to the race with Josh this year. We missed the online registration cutoff, and didn’t submit a form ahead of time, so we paid an additional $5 for the day of registration fee of $25. While supplies lasted you could still chose between the meat bag or t-shirt. There was also an option to chose neither, but the price was the same. Day of registration was open at 8:30. The race raises money for a nearby trail.
There are many parking lots near the start / packet pick up area. Parking is free. If you can’t find a marked spot, it also wasn’t a problem to just pull along side one of the old buildings in the area. You may need to walk a quarter mile to get to where you need to go.
One reason I love this race is the mentioned, meat bag. I have 23094809348 t-shirts, I do not need another. If there were more non shirt options or a discount to not get a shirt I would run more races, oh wait…is that possible? Any way every year I have received the meat bag it has had something different. This year there was a brick of Amana smoked cheddar cheese, Amana Canadian bacon, and Amana stone ground mustard.
We attached our bibs, stored the meat in the car and set out to run additional miles. There was an indoor bathroom at the packet pick up site, one for male & female, but it gets busy. If you have time, which we did, go to the nearby visitor’s center, great heated bathrooms!
Being a rural town in Iowa, there wasn’t a lot of options to run our additional miles, so Josh and I ran the course. It was also nice to check it out, as in previous years there have been icy spots. It was a nice day and hadn’t had any recent snow fall, so the course looked great. We also noticed there were mile markers for miles 1 and 2.
After some chatting with friends, and more friends…ok, so small town races in Iowa are where everyone knows your name, and it’s great!!!
It was finally time to start the race. The timing company had rolled out the blue carpet, or timing mats and the street was unofficially closed. There were some announcements, but nothing more specific than “have a good race!” There was no National Anthem, and we were off.
I didn’t have many expectations or goals, but I always do my best and try to run a sub 30 5k. I tried not to start too fast, it’s a problem and easy to do. I actually stayed near the back. We turned that first corner, where there was a County Sheriff watching traffic. I kept a good pace, as we were now on the county road headed to East Amana.
The front runner passed us, as this is an out and back course. I then came up on running friend Joel, he was running his first race back from some Achilles pain. We chatted for a while, he said he was feeling good. I kept pushing and hit the first mile in 8:43. (I just looked for the first time to write this post.) I wasn’t too concerned about looking at my watch while I ran, I had more concern for listening to the perfect song.
We approached East Amana (there is nothing in this town, some houses and a water tower) passed a volunteer who told us where to turn, and we had a small hill to go up, then we looped around the block and were back on the highway. I had now hit mile 2 at 8:36.
I was noticing some more returnable cans in the ditch. When Josh and I ran the course earlier we noticed at least a $1.05 in cans, and Bud Light had a slight lead over Busch Light – get to know your community, lol.
The last stretch on the main highway was good, the weather was great. I tried to hug the inside corner, but the road was open to traffic and some cars courteously passed the runners.
Near the last turn, into the finishing stretch, there were runners on a cool down and some spectators cheering us in. I pushed hard to the blue timing mats at the finish.
I crossed the mats, hit stop on the Garmin and a volunteer snapped the chip from my shoe. I checked my watch, 26:57 and 3.12 miles (also my official chip time, I’m good!) I was pleasantly surprised, just a week out from a full marathon and I had this in me. The last mile I ran in 8:40, for an overall pace of 8:38.
Looking at the details of my watch it says there was a 55ft ascent and 59 foot descent. So this course was super flat, well besides the small hill.
Once I found Josh and Joel, and after some more small talk with friends finishing. We made it to the post race festivities, which were in the same building where packet pick up was held.
ALL THE FOOD! Ok, so there was what appeared to be a lot of food, especially for a 5k. Clementines, bananas, bagels, baked goods, meatballs, apples, hot chocolate, bottled water, and anything else I left out. Participants hung around while everyone finished and results were tallied.
Once the results were in and people had a chance to enter the raffle, awards were announced. The oldest and youngest participants received prizes first. Then overall winners were awarded, and AG winners were given snowflake medals. After this the raffle prizes were handed out, you had to be present to win these. My time was good enough for 12th in my AG 30-39.
It was time to “Cash in” my beer (or soda) ticket at the nearby Millstream Brewery. Many others had the same plan. I tried their new brew, a Raspberry Latte Stout. It was really good! I enjoyed chatting with Josh, Joel and a couple, who I swear I talked to the previous year that come in from IL to always run this race.
It was time to get back to the big city. I was kinda sad to miss out on the festivities in Amana. There is a ham put – you know chuck the frozen ham as far as you can toss it – as well as many other fun activities and browsing the shops.
I can never say enough about this little race. There were over 400 participants this year, the weather probably helped, but I think it grows each year. It’s a great price, great course and well organized. The facebook page provided lots of pre-race information and race day photos were posted within hours.
I would like to hear what others thought, so add your review to Bibrave, or comment below.