Hoover Prairie Run 2019 – Race Recap
This race is associated with the annual Hoover’s Hometown Days in West Branch, IA. For many years there was the Presidential Races, then the Fergalicious 5k and then last year there was no event. I was excited when the local Lions Club posted there would be a run for 2019. I had to sign up!
This was not going to be like any other run, it was going to be held in the Hoover Prairie, and it was posted to be a 4.5k. The distance had instant PR written all over it, but running in a prairie is a challenge itself.
If you don’t know, West Branch is the community where I grew up and went to school. It is the birthplace of Herbert Hoover. There is a presidential library and museum along with the birthplace cottage and gravesite. On those grounds there is a restored prairie. It is maintained by the National Park Service, and offers some mowed paths.
I also work in West Branch, so on one of my lunch hour runs – or runch as I like to call it, I decided I would check out the course. This wouldn’t be my first run in the prairie, but my first in a long time. I wanted to make sure there were not many ruts or holes.
I discovered the mowed pathways to be in excellent shape. However, I guess I forgot about all the hills. Nothing like running on grass, up and down a bajillion times.
Saturday, August 3, 2019 – RACE DAY!!
I drove the 15 minutes to West Branch, but the streets were already closed up for the day of festivities. I finally arrived at work to park and walked over to the race starting area to get my bib. The event started and finished at the Hoover Presidential Library. There is parking there, but it’s for the museum. There was a port-o-potty set up too.
It was easy to grab my bib and I received a unisex, gray cotton t-shirt. It had a black logo on it. I took my things and walked back to my work, where I attached my bib to my belt and used the bathroom.
I walked back over to the starting area in time for the pre-race announcements. I was standing near some people I knew and we chatted about the actual route. There was a map and some verbal instructions, but I still wasn’t sure. We were supposed to go this way, then that way and do a loop here and there. There was also a 1.5k walk happening too.
My sister and niece arrived to cheer me on. They didn’t understand the map either, but they also didn’t care.
It was time for the race to start, so I found a place near the back. Then I was off and running. I knew there were 10 year age groups, so I was trying to size up my competition. Is that person in my AG? What about that one? Can I pass them?
We started on the drive near the gravesite, there was a volunteer stationed at the point where we needed to veer off into the prairie, so I followed the group and turned right. It wasn’t soon and we were huffing and puffin up the first hill. There were volunteers all over the prairie directing us where to go, even a water stop that we would pass twice. I was never lost and always knew where to go. There were signs placed where there were some ruts and holes, but they weren’t anything huge. There were no mile markers.
After all the turning and climbing and sizing up my competition, I was rolling into the finish line. I pushed stop on my Garmin and I had a 5k distance and a time of 30:22. Everyone that participated received a ribbon. I discovered it was good enough for 3rd place in my age group, wahoo!! I will be honest though, there were not that many people who ran the race.
There were bananas, granola bars and bottles of water available. The results were tallied and the awards were announced. I recognized the name of the overall female and realized it was someone I ran the Rival Game Relay with, years ago.
My sister, niece and I cheered for all the winners and then decided to stake out a location to watch the parade. Races with small town festivals are the best. We ended up getting a ton of candy pelted in our direction, too much!
The parade was over, so we went and had lunch at the Mexican restaurant, I got to learn all about the day in the life of an 8 year old and enjoy huevos rancheros. Then it was time to say good bye and get on with our days.
I really hope this race continues on. I know how much work it takes and I am glad the Lions took the initiative to bring this back. It was a successful first year event!