One GIANT Medal!

Kickoff to Kinnick – 2016

Well you might remember I ran this race last year, and I didn’t really enjoy it. Even heard feedback from some people that helped put it on. Which is “whatever” I feel running as many races as I do, my opinion has some merit. Anyway, I did come back to run it again..mostly because I told people I would be running it, and it’s a race 3.5 miles from my house.

I added my more factual thoughts on ( I will admit it was hard to keep my opinions out of it, lol)

This race was held on Saturday September 24, 2016. This was an away game for the football team, as the race finishes on the football field. I wish the race actually kicked off the season, instead of in the middle of the season, but logistics happen how they happen. It was a cool, cloudy 68 degrees, but the humidity was over 90%.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic Skirt, UA Iowa tank, Adidas 7″ boyshort, Hawkeye hat, Aftershokz Trekz Titanium headphones, Garmin Fenix, 2xu short socks, Brooks ghost 8

I registered late for this race, because that is just how it happened. Online registration was still open at this point and I paid $49 – OUCH! (ok I still paid it) This is an example of where registering early is beneficial. You could also register on race day for $50…yep for a 5k. (Keep reading, you will see why) *Also the race benefits the UIHC and Tim Dwight foundation*

Included with the registration was a fancy, colorful bib with timing chip; gender specific cotton short sleeve shirt; finisher’s medal; finisher’s party; and a finish on the football field. There were also 2 coupons, one was $10 off a $30 purchase at the local running store.

There was a packet pick up the Friday before the race at Scheels (local sporting goods store) or you could get your things on race day, starting at 7am (no mention when this would close.) Last year the race was on a Sunday, and they had 2 PPU before the race, so they are very accommodating for this.

I left my house just around 7 am, the race started at 9 am, but I wasn’t sure when they would close PPU. I wish I would have known, so I wouldn’t have to wait around. I got to the race area, the start is different than the finish, and parking is scattered in many lots in between – all FREE!

Ok, so I rolled in and parked, then walked to the PPU. There was a table no signs, so just waited in line, told them my name and they seemed to know which box to find my bib in, but it seemed a little disorganized for them. However they found it quick, and it was marked with my shirt size, I was given that and on my way. Easy Peasy! There were a lot of volunteers just standing around though, but maybe they would be busier later.

I now had a lot of time to waste…thankfully there is social media, lol. Here is one example where the race could cater more to runners, start it earlier! I guess that is my main problem with this race, it caters to the casual runner…the running is just something you do to get you to the medal or fun. There is room for both!

Once it was closer to the race start, I made my way to the starting area. I did run into some people I know – Hi Anne!! Hi Wendy!!.

The starting “corral” could use some improvement. The music was playing in the background and people were told to line up. I am not sure if they were encouraged to line up by pace as I couldn’t make out the actual announcement words. There were some pace signs. I saw one for 7-9:00 mile pace, it was held up into the air for all to see. However when running a 5k a 7 minute mile is a lot different than a 9 minute mile, that many people shouldn’t be grouped into the same area. There was also a 10 min plus pace sign, however unless you were standing next to the person holding it, you couldn’t see it as it was held chest high. I didn’t see a sign for walkers, maybe there was and maybe people just missed it.

I think this starting thing is my biggest “beef” this year, it causes a huge problem at the start and during the first mile. I am slow, but if I am lined up in my 10 min per mile pace area, I shouldn’t have to stop due to walkers a couple tenths into the race (ok maybe the Olympic race walkers did this?) It doesn’t take much effort to add more pace signs, or because of the increased popularity of this race how about actual corrals with wave starts. There is chip timing, so why not? It will then make the race pleasant for everyone, there wont be a huge bottleneck the first mile or so with people. People wont have to run outside the coned off area. Or is it the time the course is closed? Start the race 5 minutes earlier.  Easy fixes…what am I missing?

Ok, the race was underway. It started near Carver Hawkeye Area and we went down the hill on Hawkins. It took a left turn onto the Coralville Strip. It was here that some runners took the sidewalk, when there was one lane of the road coned off, there were runners running on the grass between as well. Also on the stretch was the Coralville Police Department yelling over their loudspeaker to stay inside the cones. To say this was crowded is an understatement.

The course approached Mormon Trek and we took another left. The sidewalk is up against the street here and participants used both the sidewalk and street again. I also wonder if they had a shorter race distance doing this, or did they care?

The City High drumline was near the softball fields, that was a cool pick me up!

The field started to thin out, and it was easy to find a pace and not worry about bumping into someone or having to go into the open lane of traffic.

At the halfway point, volunteers were on both sides of the course…but this mean for the road lane and the sidewalk lane…handing out mini plastic bottles of water. Sigh…I understand the ease for volunteers, but IMO for a 5k, a sip of water is enough, that is a huge waste of water and plastic.I am hoping those bottles were all recycled. Maybe I am wrong and people prefer these? Give me a paper cup to pinch for a sip any day… on a side note I didn’t feel the need to stop and get a drink.

Then the course hit the intersection of Melrose, where we took a left. This part has some rolling hills, nothing steep. This takes the course back towards the stadium, passing by the golf course and through University Heights.

There was a spot where we all had to run on the sidewalk due to some construction. I did not see any construction. However the sidewalk is wide enough here and the field was spread out enough, it wasn’t a problem. Although those pushing a stroller could have encountered a problem if they didn’t get on the sidewalk when told, as they had to navigate the curb.

Once near Kinnick, the route took another left, and we ran alongside the pressbox side and entered the stadium at Gate, where is a direct shot into the tunnel that leads to the field. Yep only one direct way onto the field. The tunnel is at a steep decline, with sharp turns and in places has low clearance. All the hazards were marked, but you should pay attention.

After some twisting and turning, you see the light and enter the field at the NW corner.  This is the cool part, running out onto the football field. Spectators are allowed inside and are lining the both sides, cheering everyone on. You can spot yourself on the jumbotron as you cross the finish line.

*the overall course is a fair challenge for everyone, and it’s easy to navigate, just a tad crowded at the start*

Once you cross the finish line a volunteer gives you a GIANT finisher’s medal. (Ok I am almost embarrassed to say I was given this medal for just participating in a 5k, LOL) There were some Hawkeye Spirit Squad members there too. Then you can mill about on the field. However, some milled to close to the finish area, it was a little congested. There was room to take pictures on the field, if you just walked away from the finish. There was no food or drink on the field, so if you needed to exit the field to the post race tailgate for a bottle of water.

I was running a marathon the next day, so I didn’t have plans to go all out, just the usual Sub-30…which I did with a 28:59.

There was one way off the field, the stairs on the NW corner, so that backed up a bit. Then you were at the concourse level, which was not closed off, so I used the real bathroom and popped out in the stands to take a picture.

Then I made my way to the tailgate party. This was in the parking lot behind the pressbox (lot 43.) There were many things going on. There was a silent auction, race sponsors, a live band, a beer area, brats being grilled, granola bars, chips, bananas and bottled water were available.

This was fun! There was a back up in the beer line. (at one point it was crowding the race course) ID’s were checked before you were admitted to the gated off area. It was taking some time as they had to put a bracelet on your arm. Once inside the beer area you were given 2 tickets for Millstream Beer. There were bar height tables available to lean on, rest that GIANT medal on. I guess the downside was the tailgating games were inside this area as well as the craft root beer. So I am not certain if your ID was checked and you just didn’t get a bracelet?

The live band was a lot of fun. They even played background music while they announced the AG winners.

Then it was all over and time to go home…the post race was fun. I didn’t have a chance to stay for it the last year, so glad I was able to enjoy.

I really want to like all aspects of this race, maybe it’s why I keep coming back. I would say the actual running parts have a lot of room for improvement, but the post race events and finish on the field are a lot of fun.

2 thoughts on “One GIANT Medal!

  1. Pingback: Quad Cities Marathon 2016 | Angie Runs

  2. Pingback: 2016 in review | Angie Runs

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