That DAM Race

Dam Backpocket 7 Miler – 2018 Recap

Why do I keep returning to this event?

For my fact filled, to the point review, check out Heck if you ran, add your thoughts there too.

Ah, this race always starts at 5pm on a Saturday. This year it took place August 18th. It was also the first time in a few years I wasn’t also running multiple races in one weekend. Looking back, I started running this in 2013.

I am always training for something, so to get some longer miles in, I decided I would run to the start of this race – 8 miles from my house – on an August afternoon – in Iowa. To say it was hot is an understatement.

Of course, I could have taken the shuttle bus from the finish line, but what fun is that? Josh was actually able to run the race this year too, and he took the shuttle, he had to be on board by 4pm.

I actually made decent time to the starting area of the race, and I felt good despite the conditions. Ok, so I have been running outdoors everyday, but the heat always sucks.

I found Josh, he was hanging near a table with cups and water. There is no shade at the start, as it starts on top of the Coralville Dam. It’s nice there are cups with water provided while you wait… as the shuttle arrives with plenty of time to wait. There are also some port-o-potties brought in. If you are crafty you can find some shade off in the distance.

We milled about, drank water – as I was carrying a pack, it had Gatorade. It was time to walk the hill to the starting line. At the same time being mindful for cars, as I don’t feel the road is closed to traffic.

Standing at the start it didn’t appear like there were many people running this year? Maybe the bulk of people were running the 5k event. Both the 7 mile and 5k are point to point and start at the same time.

After chatting with some people, it was time to run. I don’t recall hearing the National Anthem.

Ugh – it was hot!

The course runs on roads, eventually catching up with a sidewalk that takes you through Water Works Park, across the Iowa River to end up at the brewery. It has hills and minimal shade. There are many water only aid stations.

I waited around too long, those first few hills were not fun. In fact you might be able to see me in my only race photo here, just squint.

Then something was just off for me. My ears felt full. You know that feeling when you need to pop your ears? I tried everything to get them to pop – chewing, blowing my nose, touching them…they just wouldn’t free up. This made me feel miserable…. and from about mile 2 on, I sat on every seat of that struggle bus!

I even took the time to tweet to “Chin” who works at the IRP – a restaurant on the route. I jokingly said I was considering a DNF, and just stopping there for beer. Lucky for me as I ran by, he was out there to cheer me on.

I knew I was getting close to the finish, thankfully! This was also the portion of the course where we received a message that there would be a small dirt trail section. I know that every road in town is under construction, I appreciated the warning.

HOWEVER – when I came to this part, the volunteer pointed to the weeds. I saw no dirt trail. The weeds were waist high at times, and it’s what I would call single track. I was also nearly the last finisher, and I still battled lots of weeds, I feel bad for the first group up runners. Note to the RD – preview your course always, and give an accurate description.


I came out of this section and could finally see the finish. I could also hear “GO ANGIE!!”

Guys, twitter is my favorite social media tool ever… while I was busy whining to Chin, my friends Darren and Jill from Keota Fun Run Days, were also on twitter cheering me on… little did I know, they were at the brewery too… and as they left cheered me in on that home stretch. At the time I wished for a thunderstorm, but I was also very appreciative. The running community is the best!

I finally crossed the finish line and took the bottle of water that was offered. There was also bottled Propel available. I felt like crap.

I was then on the hunt for the beer that was included with the registration price. They were already out in the beer garden…so after making the trek through the people, I had to wait in line inside to get my free beer. There were 2 choices, which was nice.

I managed to find Josh as I waited in line. I was curious where the post race food was. I feel ever since the first year I ran this, beyond beer there is never anything. A banana and a cookie is nice.

Once we were back outside, I saw a small table with granola bars, but it wasn’t marked or clear if that was the post race snacks.

Josh and I sat on a sliver of sidewalk… I like to watch the post race events. There is an awards ceremony, but the best part is the stein holding contest. The winner gets beer for a year. Oh and since I had my pack – as we watched we snacked on the pretzels I brought.

This race… why do I keep running it? I think mostly as it’s in my town and not a 5k. It also has mile markers, water, and I feel safe. However, every year I walk away feeling they could do better, especially since I know what else is available.

Oh well, I am sure you will find me standing on top of the dam in 2019… That Dam Race… UGH


Durant Dusk Hustle – Race Recap

Durant Dusk Hustle 2018 – Race Recap

The good ol Durant Dusk Hustle…. I had almost forgot about this event, but was reminded of it when I was updating the blog’s race calendar. I have run this a couple times before, and yet I am not sure I haven’t recently?

If you need a no frills review, check

Anyway…. I contacted my sister and wondered if my niece would be interested in joining me. The race has a kids run, a mile run and a 5k. Ella has run a mile race before, and I thought this would be a good one for her.

Fast forward to Friday August 10, 2018

Gear: gunmetal Sparkle Athletic Skirt, Saucony Donut hat, Aftershokz Trek Air, SpiBelt, Adidas boy shorts, Zensah socks, Brooks Ghost 10, Cheapo Wal-Mart Tank, Moving Comfort Bra, Knockaround Sunglasses

The race is unique in that the 5k starts at 7 PM on a Friday night. The kids race and one mile are held before. The event kicks off a small town weekend celebration.

It was a hot day, so that meant the pavement / asphalt was nice and toasty for the race start. The sun was still shining and I am sure temps were in the 80’s.

I had yet to register, so I arrived in Durant with time to sign up. There was a small line as everyone else had the same idea. I paid $25 for the no t-shirt option. I was handed a plastic bag with some flyers and a plastic water bottle. I also got a bib and a timing chip for my shoe. I was glad I opted out of the shirt, it was a unisex, cotton, short sleeve.

I went back to my car and waited for my sister to arrive. I get a little anxious, and there was plenty of time, but where was she?

I finally spotted her driving around. The streets nearby were under construction, but you could park on any side street for free. I contacted her on the phone… you know an actual phone call… and we met up at the registration tent, where we got Ella a bib and shoe chip. Oh, Ella wanted a t-shirt, so for the one mile with shirt registration was around $20.

Ella lined up at the timing mat for the one mile. There were mostly only young kids running this event. Finally I saw some parents lined up too. I was going to hop in after the timing mat as I had a shoe chip I didn’t want to register twice. I just get nervous all those young kids running out and back with no one telling them where to go, especially those not close enough to follow the gator.

The National Anthem was sung and then there was a countdown. The kids took off…. zoom! I could not keep up, nor did I try…. I knew I would eventually catch up with Ella and I did just a few blocks in.

We were running directly into the sun. She kept a nice pace, throwing in a skip here or there. I encouraged her to tell the others “good job” as we passed them on the out and back.

After we turned around, she requested we walk, which was fine… it was a hot night and a mile is a long way!! I kept my eye on the other kids that had no supervision (ok not in a creepy way) I wanted to make sure they were ok. There was no water on the one mile course. I was relieved to see a parent was with the last child.

As Ella and I turned the last corner we made a deal we would run the home stretch. Just as some poor kid who was not having it was being told to push it. UGH, whatever… but if the kid was in pain or something… it wasn’t cool.

I pulled away from Ella as my sister, Amber cheered us into the finish.

She told us as she grabbed her post race popsicle the time she saw when she crossed the finish line, it was near 9:30. DANG GIRL!!!! She did great!!

After all the participants were back, I joined the line up for the 5k. I made sure to review to posted course, but I overheard some pre-race chatter that the written directions were wrong. Lucky for me, I just follow the people ahead of me, and hope they go the right way.

The race started and I fell in step. The streets were not great, very uneven and gravel in some parts where they had recently done construction. I made sure to watch my footing.

I was feeling the heat… I wore the wrong hat. I knew better too. I have my favorites, but this one was just too hot. The right gear, makes a difference.

I kept pushing as I kept thinking I could place in my AG. Around the halfway point there was a small incline, followed by a water stop. Volunteers guided us around corners as well as the arrow spray painted on the streets.

Most of the course was in the residential neighborhoods, avoiding crossing the main highway through town. This meant we went on the back edge of town near some livestock, where we also enjoyed the smell of livestock.  Am I selling you on Iowa?

Somewhere along this stretch, I got a notification that my sister was texting me. I was worried, she knew I was running, I hoped there was no emergency. I did what anyone else would do, I communicated to my Aftershokz headphones and they dialed her on the phone. Through my huffing and puffing, I made sure to ask if everything was ok, she said yes and didn’t realize I would get the notifications on my run, she was just sending some photos. Whew!

I was then closing in on the last block, I felt confident and didn’t want to trip on the uneven pavement, when out of nowhere some younger runner passes me… LOL

I came across the timing mat with a Garmin time of 27.29, but a 3.08 course….which is close enough for me.

I reunited with Amb and El and made sure to get myself a popsicle. There were also bananas, apples, cookies, Body Armor and bottled water. I did try the Body Armor as I have never had it before.

The results were posted quickly and I realized I had placed 3rd in my AG. When the groups are spread from 30-39 it’s tough! The top 3 finisher times were not that close either.

We waited around for the little awards ceremony. Overall winners were gifted a gym bag. AG winners received a medal. I put mine around Ella’s neck where she wore it the rest of the night, and took it home.

After the race we went to check out the other festivities happening. There was a live band, rides and fair type food. We listened to the music and Ella talked me into some ride. After a walking taco and sno cone stop, we parted ways.

Overall: I know I have said this before, but I do enjoy a 5k or any race for that matter that has a small town festival surrounding it. It makes the trip to the race more enjoyable. It’s nice the race is on a Friday night, you could race again over the weekend or take it off. It’s a nice price and flat course, with options for kids too.

Keota Fun Run 2018

Keota Fun Run 2018 – A Thundering Good Time!

Saturday, June 9. Keota, IA.

I hopped in my car around 6:30 AM to make the one hour trek to Keota. The race start time was 8 AM. I left Iowa City in sunshine, but the sky looked dark, and I hit a rain shower on the trip.

For my to the point review check out

I arrived to the Keota High School parking lot, and the sky was gray. Before I went to register, I checked the radar, it didn’t look like anything was going to happen. I made it into the school, paid the $15 – 10k race day registration fee, was handed my short sleeve cotton, t-shirt, and went back to my car. No race bib, which for a small town event, is perfect! The sky was starting to look a little more dark.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic Skirt, Wal-Mart Tank, Road Runner Sports shorts, Brooks Ghost 10, Pro Compression socks, Aftershokz Trekz Air, XX2i Glasses, Coros Global Pace Watch, Boco visor

I got all my race things ready, and then went back into the school to use the bathroom. Then I check the radar again, it was going to storm. The RD was also watching the radar.

Near 8 AM, it started raining and storming, and the race was delayed! Everyone was safe inside the school. There was no place to sit, so we all just stood around looking at our phones and chatting. This is also when I learned I was the only female running the 10k.

I actually know the RD’s – Jill and Darren, they were walking around deciding what to do. I mentioned that everything should be fine as long as there is no lightning.

With more radar watching, an announcement was made that the race would start at 8:30 AM.

Just before 8:30 we all made our way outside to the starting line, or the spray painted line on the road. 10k runners were assigned to start on the left, while the 5k and milers were told to start on the right. The local radio station was there with the music van playing tunes and music, when it was time, he played a recording of the National Anthem.

There were only 6 people running the 10k, including a guy pushing a wheelchair. A minute after the start I was already last. It was easy to tell as the course was out and back in town, then out and back on a county highway.  I passed a water stop and the main intersection and was on my way out on the long lonely highway portion. What was weird is that all the others were running down the road as if it were closed. I stuck to the side to run against traffic.

As I got further out I could also see another storm rolling in, it must have just popped up. This section is flat and surrounded by cornfields, with a view as far as the eye could see. Then there was lightning and thunder, then the rain started, followed by lots of headwind and more lightning. Where or what what was I supposed to do? crawl into a cornfield? There was no shelter? The police or fire department did not come shelter us (they were at the major crossing and turn around.) When I made it to the turn around the RD caught up with us and asked if we wanted to continue. At this point, we had run through the worst, and since I was given a choice, I wasn’t going to quit. So I carried on.

I should note, I was running with my phone in a ziploc bag, stored in a pocket in my shorts, I didn’t need my SpiBelt. I also had my headphones. All survived the soaking. I also had no blisters or any chafing. This is when training in the rain is handy, you know what gear works and how to carry it.

That was the scariest thing I have ever run through, random lightning strikes with no shelter. The RD should have got us earlier and canceled the race, however they did not have the keys to the vans to gather everyone and did the best they could with a sedan. I am also very surprised the fire department didn’t get us. The visibility was also very bad.

With all that being said, I did come in second to last, I passed one person!!! When I crossed the finish line I was handed a popsicle stick with my place of finish. I brought the stick inside, where they “tallied” the results. There were bottles of water and bagels too.

Of course, I won my division. There was an awards ceremony for age groups and overall winners. The radio station van made the announcements.

With the weather situation aside, I will always try to come back to the race. I like the price and that there are no extra logistics to worry about. Plus the event is centered around a small community that loves their town.

Oh wait, there’s more!!!

After the event, Jill and Darren wanted to know if I wanted to shower so we could all go grab a drink. Well I didn’t bring a change of clothes, so I just put on my race shirt and hopped in Jill’s truck to hit up the town.

First there was a parade. I love a good parade, and CANDY!!! We stopped at The Roost, which is the local bar. I was asked what I wanted to drink… well no craft beers on tap… and well no beers on tap, I went with a Bud Light Lime.

Then… as you do… took my beer outside to sit on the bleachers to watch the parade. It was a great parade. A nice patriotic tribute to start, lots of tractors (Darren was driving one,) lots of local businesses and of course lots of candy… all the candy! I think in the mean time I was talked into a second beer.

After the parade was an auction. They auctioned off high school students. They were auctioned for their labor, to help community members with odd jobs around their homes and the money went to the sports boosters, or back to the school.

I ventured over to get a ribeye steak sandwich and then it was time to hang out in the Roost for a while. I was thinking I had a lot to do and needed to get back home. I was convinced that I needed to check out the VFW before I left. I was also given another beer, but also at the same time I saw someone I knew from high school….all the cool people hang in Keota.

We walked a few doors down into the  VFW. It was a little less crazy, but still one of the places to be. I was now drinking water and eating parade candy. Jill and Darren saw someone they knew and they said they were only at the VFW because the beer was colder than The Roost, so they got their beer and went back to the party at the other bar.

This was almost too much fun for me, I said my goodbyes. I wish I had planned to spend more time, but I also had things to do. I guess next year I will be more prepared, and I suggest you join me!

39 Forever

Dam it’s over! 

On Saturday, June 2, I took part in the 39th and final Dam to Dam race, a 20k from Saylorville Dam to downtown Des Moines.

As always my no nonsense review is at

When registration opened mid March, the price was $39. Josh was in for this too, so he got online and immediately registered both of us. This was a good thing as the first thousands of spots sold out in no time. There were an additional 1000 spots added and all spots were full by around noon the same day.

We were no stranger to the event. In 2013 we ran the last 20k distance. From 2014-2017 they changed the race to a half marathon. For this last edition they changed it back to the 20k distance.

Josh and I skipped out of work early Friday (June 1) afternoon to get to the packet pickup and expo. There was no option to get anything on race day, so you had to make it to the expo by 8pm.

We were at the expo around 3pm. There was free parking in the lot north of the Iowa Events Center. However this was confusing as signs were posted saying that parking was $8. I pulled up the email that said free parking and we mentioned it, and they let us in. There was also metered parking on the street.

If you have never participated in this event, the “expo” is not your traditional race expo with vendors and merchandise for sale. Yes, there was a giveaway, volunteer checkiin, and one fitness store with gear, but it’s more of a pre-race party.

After we found our bib numbers and entered the giveaway, we made it to area to grab our bibs. This was simple, just tell the person your number and they double checked your name. They did not ask for ID, but they did ask what color of socks we wanted, I went with a pink, they were Brooks low cut.

Then we had to make our way to claim our shirt. We had a choice of neon yellow, blue or black. They were a Brooks technical material, gender specific, and short sleeve. I went with the neon yellow. The design was simple, a tiny logo and words “39 forever.” Nothing was pre-stuffed in a bag, but there was a small plastic bag available if you wanted.

The center of the events hall was filled with food. There was a buffet line with chips, snack mix and candy. There were two sandwich options. A table with some cake and mini cupcakes was also present. There were stations for soda and blue Powerade. Water was set up throughout. None of this was an additional cost, keep in mind we registered for $39.

Outside there was a beer tent. They were serving keg Coors Lights and Smirnoff Ice. There was live music, but it was warm and sunny. This too was at no additional cost and you could drink as many pre-race drinks as you wanted.

We found a table and sat down to eat and relax. We also checked the forecast for the race, there was rain predicted all week and it wasn’t budging.

After some chatting with friends and learning we did not win any giveaway, we moved on to go eat more food. We had reservations at Christopher’s, one of Josh’s favorite places to eat in Des Moines.

Once we were done filling ourselves with all the pasta…yes I know it’s only 20k, but we like pasta; we were already thinking about what we would be having for breakfast, lol. We found this fancy new downtown Hy-Vee and grabbed some bagels. Then we checked into our hotel. We got all our gear ready and then we called it an early night as we would have to wake up at 4 AM to catch the shuttle.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, Coros Pace watch, Brooks running Ghost 10, Rudy Rydon glasses, Aftershokz Trekz Air, SpiBelt, Road runner shorts, Zensah socks & bra


Bagels and coffee, another breakfast of champions!

It was early, but that’s race day. First a check of the weather—-oh crap! The radar did not look good. However, the big blob looked like it would move through and eventually pass on. The temperature looked fine too. The question was, would there be lightning? The race is point to point and starts on top of a dam with no shelter. Would it be cancelled? We kept glued to social media and the radar for any information, all while still preparing to grab a shuttle to the start.

There were 3 locations to catch a shuttle to the start. We would be going to the downtown location. Buses would be from 5 AM to 5:45 AM. We went to the lobby to wait for our Uber, it was about a mile walk to the shuttle pick up and it had started to rain. Meanwhile in the lobby we managed to score a 4 PM checkout time!

The Uber showed up and on the ride the driver was amazed that anyone would run for 2 hours. I kept my mouth shut….. I guess running for 7 hours would be asanine!

We made it to the buses, there seemed like an endless line. Runners were just lining up to board them. I did not see anyone in charge of the process, there were police officers directing the next buses ahead on the road.

Once in the bus, Josh and I didn’t care what happened. We were in a dry spot. If they had to delay or cancel, we were in a relatively safe spot. We spent the time scrolling social media pages for the event. Things were going so great for people who drove into the downtown bus pickup, traffic was reported as backed up. Another location at the mall was reporting there were no buses. It was a fun way to pass the time.

We got close to our drop off point at the Dam, but the line of buses was really long, so it took a while. This was fine as what appeared to be the heaviest part of rain was going through. We were still dry.

The time came and we had to get off the bus. There was a light rain and there were some dedicated volunteers who had been standing outside for a long time directing the drop off.

We made the walk to the starting area. There were a lot of people in ponchos and plastic bags, and people wearing trash bags on their shoes. Insert eye roll… ok maybe this is mean, but it could rain on race day, had these people never ran in the rain? You just get wet, those training runs you can find the sock and shoe that works for no blisters. Also have you ever run in a rain coat/trash bag or poncho? I find the sweating from the inside is worse and you have all this crap stuck to you, you are not dry. Ok, so maybe they were going to ditch the coats after the start… more on that later. Also was no one watching the radar? The rain wasn’t going to last.I guess I am no nonsense, the weather happens….

We bypassed the port-0-potty area, and continued walking to the start as 7 AM was quickly approaching. I stopped near the sign that said 10 min per mile. It was an ambitious pace, but it was a good place to stop. I said good luck to Josh and he forged ahead.

As I stood there and waited to start, I kept my eyes open for someone I might know. As luck would have it, twitter friend Scott was waiting near me too. I made my way over and we chit chatted. I then saw local running friend Tim and gave a wave. The rain continued and we waited more… it was now after 7 AM.

At 7:23 AM an announcement was finally made, the race was going to start at 7:30, there was a half an hour delay…. um thanks for the heads up. I didn’t see any lightning when we were standing there, so I am thinking there was a backup with getting runners to the start on time. Standing in the rain is different than running in the rain… and a little cold, but I still don’t wish I had a poncho.

Finally – it was time to run!! Then out of no where the wind picked up, and was driving rain at us. What an AWESOME way to kickoff the last Dam to Dam. Just as we started, local running friends Horacio, Logan and Jennifer passed me and we all battled the weather through the first mile.

The race as I mentioned is point to point and the idea is you start at the Saylorville Dam and run to the Dam in downtown Des Moines. It’s all on paved roads, first in the countryside and then through parts of Des Moines. The course is overall downhill, with a bigger climb at mile 7.

The rain finally let up after a mile or so and it really wasn’t a bad day, especially since the day before had been so hot. The worse part now was dodging all the plastic – trash bags and ponchos everywhere. Thank you to everyone that took time to clean that up. Also, do they make a compostable poncho? So much waste! The rain also cooled down some of the pavement.

As far as my race, I just wanted to finish and do my best. I tried to run on the gravel should as much as I could. I stopped for water and Powerade when I needed it, although each stop was set up different. I even detoured for a port-o-potty off course. There were always lots of people on course with my pace. This made the part along the river path a little crowded. There were lots of spectators in the areas they could get to, but I would suggest cheering for everyone and not just your friends.

I came to a very busy finish area. The announcer was catching the names as he could. Once across the timing mat, you had to weave through finishers waiting for loved ones to find a medal. *I saw a race official arguing with a participant to leave the area.

I found a medal and then saw Herky… so I was now part of the problem, he did not have a line , so I quickly pulled my phone and snapped a selfie!

I proceeded through the crowded chute and got a cup of water, and picked up a bottle of red Powerade. Then it was time to exit the area. There were people everywhere….. runners and non runners. A volunteer pointed in directions…”food that way, beer back there, photos here” I just wanted room to breathe!

I finally found a way to the food. It was line up along the outside of Cowles Commons. It would have made sense for a line to be formed and people to follow through, but instead people – and I mean runners and non runners – were just walking up and grabbing things.

I started at the far end and followed through, it took a while as people were just walking up. I grabbed a chocolate milk, ice cream, cookie, kettle corn and apple. I felt greedy taking all those things, mostly as I looked silly and couldn’t carry them all. I even skipped the pulled pork sandwich, oranges and bananas.

Near the end of the line I saw someone I thought looked familar, it was BibRave Pro Michael… so I stopped and chatted. He was telling me that his running group had a fun day and would stop and help the water stations give out cups.

I then had to find Josh, he had sent me some texts as to his whereabouts. I did find him, thankfully his IOWA shirt stood out. We sat and enjoyed the people watching.

I decided even though it was Coors, I would get a post race beer, so I headed over to get one. It was crazy! I ended up finding a dumpling instead….. sooo the next time Josh went back over to the beer line with me… we found out a runners bib got you a bib, non runners got a wrist band…to which I am not sure they had to pay for.  We waited in what we thought was a line, only to have 4 people budge in front of us… lots of crap for a crappy beer.

Finally a cold beer in our hand, we went back to listen to the live music and more people watching. The sun was in and out of the clouds, it was a nice day. The crowd started to thin out, so we decided to walk back to the hotel. As luck would have it, the GIANT farmers market was happening, so we got an iced coffee.

We were back to the hotel just before noon. A shower sounded great… nothing more enjoyable than being rain and sweat soaked, but it was time to move on.

Next stop, lunch! – Yes all we do is eat. El Bait Shop was next to the hotel, we just had to go here, there are over 250 beers on tap…WAHOOOOOOOOO!!! Also, Josh wouldn’t shut up about the bacon wrapped tots.

We ordered a flight of beer, each of us picking 2. MMMM sour beers are my jam! The tots were delish! We topped off the trip by splitting a tray of nachos.

As much as we would have liked to stay and explore Des Moines, it was time to get home. However, we only made it as far as Newton before we had to stop at the gas station and take a nap… when did we get so old?

So what’s next for the Dam to Dam? I told you this was the last year…. well it was the last year as the Dam to Dam. The former race organization was all done by a volunteer board, they are done! The race was bought/sold/acquired by a race event management company – Rip Roar Events. I even received and email to sign up for next year – but it will be called DAM to DSM. I am not sure if it will be a half marathon, or the same idea.

I am also not sure if I will be back. I think I had the same feelings when I ran this in 2013, I just wasn’t that “thrilled” for the event. We signed up because it was to be the last and it was only $39. Guess I will just keep my eyes open and see what happens.


Woodpecker Singletrack Trail

Places to Run – Woodpecker Singletrack Trail – Coralville, IA

“Disclaimer: I received three BUFF®️ products to use on new adventures as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!”

 A while back I started a page on my blog about the places to run in my area. With the help of the BUFF®️ campaign to push me to find new adventure and after a weekend race on this trail, I was intrigued and I had to go check out a ‘new to me trail.’

Location: The Woodpecker Singletrack Trail is location right inside Coralville, IA. In face I have run alongside it many times. For those who live in the area it’s located just north of the Clear Creek Trail, south of Highway 6, and just to the east of Camp Cardinal Blvd. There is another trail near the Coralville Reservoir, this is not it.

Mileage: The signage posted says the trail is 3 miles long, with an optional half mile section. When I ran the trail, including the optional portion, I had a distance of 3.24 miles.

Terrain: This trail is mostly packed mud. There are spots with some sand. Tree roots and things to stumble upon are at a minimum.

Elevation: FLAT! This is built for bikes, so it kinda reminded me of some random dirt bike trail you might see on TV, there are little “bumps” or small hills, but there are no climbs.

Scenery: The trail is near a small creek, so you can pop off an find a beach. The trail being within the city, has a small portion with buildings in view. Otherwise, lots of trees.

Maintenance: The trail is actually designed for biking, and while the city appears to behind the maintenance, it also looks like a biking organization helps too.

Markings: There are no mile markers, but every entrance has a nice sign with a map of the trail. The map includes your current location.

Features: On the west edge of the trail there is a parking lot and facility with drinking fountain and flushing toilets.

Market Stampede

West Branch Bear Stampede 10k

Saturday, May 5th, West Branch, IA. It was sunny and would warm up to around 70 degrees.

The race usually falls on the second weekend of May, but this year it was moved to the first. It just so happens that the little farmers market I am a part of was also the same weekend. The two events joined forces and were at the same time. This meant I would at the least be selling my headbands as part of the market on race day.

I am no stranger to this event, I have run it many times. I have also sold my headbands in the past. However, when I arrived on race day I was still uncertain if I would run the race. I would need someone to watch my stand while I ran, and I was on my own that morning. When I had my stand all set up my fellow market vendors agreed to to keep an eye on things, so I went to sign up.

Small town races are the best, we have a lot of them in Iowa, you could run 2-3 every weekend. One of the best parts is you can register on race day for a reasonable price. The 10k was only $30 on race day. I feel if I asked I could have received a t-shirt too, but that’s the last thing I need. I even got a timing chip for my shoe.

As I stood at my market stand waiting for the race to start, I think there were some announcements, but I was on the other side of the bouncy house, where it was hard to hear. Everyone moved towards the starting line, so I went that way too. It was a mass start with the clock, no starting timing mat. There was no National Anthem.

As I said I have run this race many times. I knew where the course was to go, which also meant I knew the hills and West Branch has hills. Hey, fun fact – Iowa is not flat.

The course starts by going down the main street, there are cops at every intersection and a few people around town stop and take notice. It happened to be the same day as a community cleanup, this meant that just within the first mile there was a situation with some extra traffic hauling their junk to a special trash drop off. I really wasn’t bothered, I just kept on going.

Up the big hill and then through Beranek park to loop back around to head out the Hoover Nature Trail. There is a 5k with this race too, both of them start at the same time. When we get to a certain part on the trail, the 5k turns around and heads back into town. It’s easy to cheer the leaders on as they pass by.

The 10k keeps running further out on the trail. This is the trail I run a lot on at lunch time. It is an old rail bed, so this part is really flat and it’s crushed limestone. On this portion the runners were really thinned out. I did pass another woman, I made a remark at the time that she would probably pass me again because I knew there were 2 hills at the end.

As I was getting closer to the turn around, a man who was on his way back shouted, “first female!” I was shocked, no…not me?!?!  Then the mental game was on.

On the way back on the trail, I knew the woman I passed was close behind me. I kept repeating – this is the flat part, keep pushing, build some time. However the first mile I ran an 8:41 so it was kickin my butt, also I was a little hot, oh and I had just run a marathon 6 days prior. I wasn’t gonna give up.

I made it back to the 5k turnaround water stop, I grabbed a styrofoam cup of water and saw that woman was really close now. AHHHH ok, will I be happy with 2nd female? I went back and forth in my head.

I was off the trail, and at the base of the first big climb, and then it happened, the woman passed me. I looked at my watch, 5.78 miles… I lead for this long, ugh, I didn’t have anymore in me. Then …. the woman started walking… I was still shuffling up the hill… I could do it!

I got to the top and I was again leading, I knew I had a little flat spot before I needed to climb the last hill, I just kept moving forward. I pushed up that last hill – Oh and I saw my friend Carol and her daughter Susan drive by, so that was a nice pep in my step. I knew I was gonna make it!

I got to the top of the hill, only to make sure I could make it back down to the finish line without tripping or doing anything stupid.

I DID IT!! I was the first female in the 10k!!  Ok, ok, ok sooo there were only 12 people who ran the 10k, but I am counting this as a victory, wahoo!!! I had 6 ish miles in 56:55.

I crossed the finish line and found a bottle of water. There were some baked goods and bananas. Since I had baked cookies and Krispie bars for the market, I just went back to my stand.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to get an award, or what was happening. In the meantime there were a couple of kids races and I kept tabs on my market stand. I wished I had picked a spot in the shade.

It was time for the awards, I gathered and listened and learned that part of the announcements I didn’t hear earlier, was that the courses were short due to cutting out a block because of the trash cleanup event. Ahh, that made sense, safety was taken into consideration.

Anyway it came time for the 10k awards, my name was announced and I was gifted 5 – $1 coupons to the farmers market and I had a choice at a plant from the school FFA. What a fun, unique race award. I went with a petunia.

I walked back to the market and picked a home made raspberry jam and a bag of snack mix. Other award winners were given market bucks too. When the event was over, if you wanted the race would exchange cash for any market bucks the vendor received.

Then, just like that the event was over. I packed up all my things, and headed home to mow the lawn and plant my petunia.

As I have said, I have run this many times. This year felt a little different, only because there weren’t as many participants. I know how hard it is to get people to volunteer their time to make these races possible. I hope this event continues, it’s always great to run on the trail and in turn support the school. It was also fun to have the market at the event, maybe a little more cross promotion (or promotion in general) and next year will be even better!

If you ran the race, don’t forget to add your thoughts to a Bibrave review.


“Disclaimer: I am promoting Run CRANDIC as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!”

It’s Run CRANDIC race week and we’re all freaking out. Ok, so maybe some people are remaining calm. I am ready to run a marathon, that is not why I am worried, I am more worried about the event happening with the least problems possible. People can be very rude and mean, for the stupidest reasons……anyway…

Some people may refer to this period of training as a taper, and some people describe it as taper tantrums. How do you go into race week avoiding this?

  1. Trust your training! If you picked a training plan (oops I didn’t do that) you should trust that you put in the work and have the endurance to get you to the finish line.
  2. Take on a new hobby. You need something to occupy all your new found free time, why not learn to knit, get into bird watching, or decoupage?
  3. Check the weather. What better way to keep the tantrum alive than to obsess about the weather every day. It’s Iowa, it will change 65 times in the last week, so clicking that refresh button every hour will keep you busy.
  4. Plan your race day outfit. Don’t laugh, there is an art to putting together your race day look. From something that wont chafe to something that represents you. I like to wear a fun skirt with fun colors. Hey, add your name to your shirt as spectators can easily cheer you on.
  5. Catch up on those chores. Remember all those Saturdays you told yourself you would get to that leaky toilet or replace the porch light? Well you should have some more time now, get to it!
  6. Volunteer! Whether it’s at another race or your library, this is a good way to fill your time.
  7. Netflix marathon. This is a perfect way to test your endurance, curl up on the couch and see how many TV shows you can watch before you need to use the bathroom.
  8. Work on your playlist.If you run with music, this is the perfect time to add your favorite songs to your listening device. If you are super detailed you could get the songs in order of where the steepest hills will be.
  9. Hydrate. Unlike the weather, making sure you are ready to roll is one thing you can control, so make sure you are on top of drinking water and electrolytes. Or perhaps a Run Crandic 26.2 Brew? Scheduled to hit taps at these locations:
    • Kickstand  in Cedar Rapids
    • Chrome Horse in New Bo Cedar Rapids
    • Vine in Coralville
    • Old Chicago Coralville
    • Tin Roost North Liberty
    • Red’s Ale House North Liberty

     Big Grove in Iowa City will have it at the post race party

  10. Rest! Take a nap, sleep in, go to bed early. Arrive to race day feeling refreshed!
  11. Carboload! This might be my favorite thing, I like food and I LOVE pasta!!  By now, with your longer training runs you should know what foods agree with your digestive tract. Add them to your diet in the week leading up to the big race.

WHEW!! After all of these things, it’s race day and your taper tantrums should be over. The next thing to do is get to the start line, so you can get to that finish line!