Quad Cities Marathon 2021

Quad Cities Marathon – Half Marathon Recap 2021

The 2021 Quad Cities Half Marathon would be the 10 year anniversary of my first ever half marathon. That’s right, I chose this race to be my first half marathon. It was a cool, rainy day and I remember celebrating with chicken wings and Dr. Pepper. Fast forward to Sep 26, 2021 and I was gearing up to run my 63rd half marathon. 

I did register for this race in one of the last price tiers, so I think I paid around $60 or something. I did just make the cutoff to get my name on my bib. This also guaranteed I would get a short sleeve tech shirt at packet pickup. I also registered late because we are still in unchartered territory with the pandemic, will they cancel the race, will it go virtual? I also was excited to run the old I74 bridge one last time. 

It’s Hawkeye football season so that means my Saturdays are occupied, luckily my friend Mark and his wife were going to be traveling into the Quad Cities and he would be pacing the marathon. I asked him to grab my bib and t-shirt, he also snagged me a poster. The Quad Cities event has been around for over 20 years and I still appreciate they host the main events on a Sunday so I can watch the game. 

I woke up early on race day to make the hour drive. It’s really easy to navigate to the parking lot on the one end of the Mark or whatever the venue is now called. Plus all parking is FREE!! 

I was really early, but I went to set up a tent our running club would have in the finisher’s chute. Thankfully there were some men setting things up that were able to help me. 

I was in contact with Mark, he was staying nearby and he brought me my things. He had to check in at the pacer tent. I went back to my car and put my extra things inside, then came back to the tent to wait for the race to start. I also chatted with Mark’s wife, Tina. 

I really had no expectations for this event. I wasn’t nervous or frazzled, I would just line up when it was time and run. I should maybe start to care about my performance on race day, or put in some effort, but so close to coming out of Covid, I just wanted to finish. The whole having run the event a few times before has me relaxed too.

After the National Anthem, I decided I would finally use the port-o-potty and that is when I walked right into my sister and niece trying to budge into the line in front of the runners, HA! I was happy to ditch my pullover and give it to her. We all used the bathroom and walked to the start area. 

The loud cannon was fired and it was time to enjoy the 4 cities, 2 states and excitement the course had to offer. I saw my sister, Amber and niece, Ella on the side of the course cheering, they made sure to snap this excellent picture of me. 

The first mile gets you to the first bridge crossing, the iconic I74 bridge. Ok, so maybe it’s not that great of a bridge, but within in the last few years they have built another bridge crossing the Mississippi River, so this would be the last year runners would be running across the old bridge. (or that is what we are told.) If you have not experienced running over a bridge that bounces, this is quite the deal. You will be enjoying your run and then your legs feel weird because the bridge is moving and your feet are not hitting when you think they should. It’s fun! There is also a water stop on the bridge, (I think for the 5k) the lady that used to scream “to the left” is there too, and there is a bagpiper. 

After you cross the bridge you are in Bettendorf, IA. This is the portion with the hills. They are not steep climbs, but they are long climbs. The roads are closed in this area, the main roads and neighborhoods. There are a few spectators out and about, in fact I see my friend, Kelly as I turn a corner in this area. There is an aid station in this area too. 

After the hills of Bettendorf, you descend to the riverfront. This is a nice path along the river that feels to take forever. If I remember there was a group handing out Busch Lights, a kid was even involved. There was a boat out on the river playing music and cheering runners along. The path takes you into Davenport, IA. This is also where the first relay exchange is located. I also happen to see Kelly again. I asked her about the score of a football game I couldn’t stay up to watch, she was surprised that was my question.

After the relay check point, and another aid station. We followed the river a little further. I then spotted Amber and Ella with an awesome sign. They had all the cheers for everyone. I stopped for a selfie and moved along.

The course kept along the river for a little while longer until we got to the Quad City River Bandits baseball park. This is where the marathon split away from the half marathon. The half marathon then headed back into Davenport to get to the Arsenal Bridge. 

I saw Amber and Ella again, this time they had a bucket of candy. I snagged a pouch of Sour Patch Kids, it was the perfect size. I think I was around mile 7 or so at this time, it was perfect. They stayed there and handed out treats for runners. They said it was all fine and dandy until some asshat purposefully spilled their bucket.

I was just stuffing the candy wrapper in a trash can I saw along the sidewalk when I again saw Kelly, she was everywhere and it was great!! Then it was time to tackle the next bridge.

The Arsenal Bridge is made up of metal grates, so the race puts down a mat you can run on if you choose. You get a view of the river through the grates of the bridge, you also get a view of the lock and dam. The bridge is also a lift bridge that takes you to the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois, which is the only active US Army Foundry. (If any reason for the event was to be cancelled it would have been the access to this location of the race, or that’s my thought.)

The half marathon meets back up with the full marathon once you are across the bridge and back in Illinois. (I believe this is where there was a snafu with the full marathon bike lead taking runners off course.) At this point the half goes straight to take a direct route through the island, while the full takes a left and gets to experience 4 ish miles more of the island. There is an aid station out here and another relay exchange. In years past there has been a fruit and candy stop. I am not sure if times have changed, but I didn’t see the aid stations marked well ahead of time and I feel like there weren’t as many.

Running through the Arsenal can be an experience, before you are off the island you pass by a military cemetary. However, I was not having any moments as a runner was dry heaving at this point. You just never know what race day will bring.

Free race day photos!!

There was one more bridge back into Moline I had to cross. It was heating up and I was just ready to be done. I then came across the bridge and saw, I think Kelly again or maybe it was Amber and Ella, before hitting the finish line. 

Once across the finish line I was handed my medal and a bottle of water. Then I grabbed a chocolate milk and found some food. There was an interesting mix of options; I passed on the pizza but grabbed a hot dog. That would be enough for now. There was also soda and beer the further you walked down the chute. At the end of the chute there was a band setting up on stage. I didn’t stick around too long as I went back onto the course to cheer.

When runners come back off the Island the half and full are together again, but the full has to make a left hand turn and run the most grueling 3 miles out and back, while the half takes a right and gets to finish. This is why I may never run the full marathon at this race ever again, you can see the finish, but no, you get to go out for more miles. This is also the spot I went back to cheer at.

Amber, Ella and Kelly met back up with me at this location. We were using the tracking app to keep tabs on those we knew running the full. We also were able to cheer in Amy and Tina in the half marathon. 

Then we saw the full marathoners we were tracking; Mark, Kevin and Angelica. Mark did not look too pleased as he came through, Kevin looked strong and Angelica was maybe surprised to see us. I then cheered on others as I waited for them to do their out and back. It was now closer to 80 degrees. There is also not much shade on that portion.

I caught them all as they came back through. It’s so much fun to see people accomplish their goals. After Mark finished he and Tina came back to cheer for a little while before they had to head home. I have missed races and hanging out with my running friends.

I was getting worried for Angelica, it was her first marathon, so I back tracked the race course, I didn’t see her. I walked back to the finish and snagged another bottle of water. I spotted Kevin and gave him a congrats, then I thought I saw Angelica coming to the finish line. Wahoo, a first time marathoner!! 

photo cred: Angelica

I stayed a little longer and made sure she got some liquids and food in her and left her with her crew. It was time to go home. The fun part was I had to take down the running club’s tent and haul it all to my car. Ha, I just piled it up and drove my car to the pile. I wish I felt like staying and enjoying a cold Mich Ultra and the music, but these weekends are gonna do me in.

I always try to throw the Quad Cities marathon into the mix if it fits into my schedule. The race director and organization always do a good job. Sure maybe it felt like some aid was missing or something, but it has been a rough couple years. Also that snafu I mentioned earlier was addressed and taken care of. Maybe I will see you there next year.