Inaugural Hoover Prairie Run

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!

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.

Places to Run – West Branch, IA


West Branch, IA

This is a small town in eastern Iowa, I grew up north of this community and went to school here. I work here during the day, where I run on the Hoover Nature Trail, so I thought I would also add a post about running in the town.

This is a general overview of the town, so there wont be a mileage topic, but getting adventurous you might be able to log double digits without repeating an area. The town hosts a few races which I have run – Bear Stampede & Fergalicious 5k.

Terrain: There is every surface to run. Pavement, asphalt, chip and seal, crushed limestone, grass. Overall the surfaces are all well kept, no need to avoid sidewalks for safety of footing.

Elevation: This town is not flat, it is also not in the mountains. That being said, there are many hills, unless you run the Hoover Nature Trail you will be climbing somewhere.

Scenery: West Branch is the home of Herbert Hoover, there is a National Park here which you can loop through on a run & includes a prairie. There is a small historic downtown area. Interstate I-80 travels through the town splitting the industrial portions from the residential.

Maintainence: As mentioned in the terrain segment, the town is maintained pretty well, there is no need to worry about footing on sidewalks or streets.

Markings: The town does not have any dedicated running or cycling paths with mile markers, however there are signs around town directing you to the National Park or library.

Features: The town has one stoplight which was installed for pedestrians to cross a busier street. You can safely run on the sides of the streets. The Nature Trail offers a peaceful place to run.

Warnings: This is a small town, if you are out and about, you might run into someone that wants to chit chat, stalling your run. Also you have to work hard to get in a long run, or head out to country roads. There are also many street crossings and cars are always looking for pedestrians.

Personal Notes: I really don’t do much running in town unless it’s a race. I sometimes feel the glaring eyes of people and I would rather stick to the trail. However, to me that’s just small town life.

Other: In the warmer months there are drinking fountains on the National Park grounds. You can use the bathroom at the Town Hall or Police department. The gas stations or convenience stores for water/bathrooms are on the other side of the interstate. Parking is FREE.


If you have anything to contribute, let me know!

Bear Stampede 10k 2017

2017 Bear Stampede 10k

The 2017 event was on Saturday, May 13, and started at 9 am. The 5k was run at the same time, on the same course, but turned around sooner than the 10k. The sun was shining and it was 70 ish degrees.

I have run this race, both distances, in the past. I have also been a part of this race, in that I have sold my head bands, and given proceeds to the race.

This year was different. The race organization changed hands, and I wasn’t contacted to sell head bands (and I didn’t contact them,) which was fine, because I don’t have time. However, I am happy to make custom orders.

I thought, hey I can get some miles in, it could be a tune up for the Run Madtown 10k, and then I could get to some projects at work. I like to make things with reclaimed wood, or upcycle furniture and the materials are piling up.

I parked my car near the starting line, and went into the school to register for the race. Registration was only $30!!! I didn’t get a shirt, but I don’t need anymore. Seriously, I think I mentioned this in years past, where can you run a 10k with race day registration of $30?!?!?!?  I also got chip timing.

I left with my bib…in an unnecessary plastic bag, that also had a Road ID coupon. I needed to move my car, so I drove to my work, parked my car and made my way back to the race, with a stop at the post office. I am not sure if it was about a half mile.

I arrived back to the starting area and milled around a bit. I was ready to go. I said hi to my friend Monty, he said he enjoyed this race because of the Hoover Nature trail part. This is the trail I run on during lunch time, it’s flat and peaceful.

Announcements were happening, and then it was time for the National Anthem, sung by one of the school kids. 5k and 10k participants were told to line up, there was no corral or pacers, but the race was small enough, and the street wide enough, there were no problems.

The race started at the elementary school, it then took a small loop through the town, followed by an out and back on the trail, then a run up all the hills to the finish back at the school.

I started out feeling good. However, that did not last long. The weather was too hot for me. It’s like the heat came from no where. I am fine running in heat, just when I have had time to acclimate to it. I also made the mistake of wearing a black shirt.

I did fine on the paved portion through town, but then came the trail section. As I said, I run this trail weekly, I thought I would be able to pick things up here. This was not the case. It started near the 5k turnaround. First runners were coming back towards me, crowding the trail. Second, the trail was not closed to others, there was some nature walk happening, crowding the trail – those people would not move! Third, it was hot!

I grabbed some water, which was ice cold at the 5k turn around – styrafoam cups though…blah. Then I crossed the highway and the participants thinned out. I think maybe 30 people ran the 10k. However, the nature walk people were out on this part too.

I made it to the 10k turn around, and grabbed some more water. On this part, I could count what place I was in. Before the turn around I was the 4th overall female. However, once I turned around, I saw the next 2 ladies closing in on me.

I was on the struggle bus the entire way back, I tired to push my pace, but it wasn’t happening. I was just too hot. Then one by one, the ladies passed me. We got back to the paved part and had to run up the hills. Whew – they are steep! I kept moving though.

Finally the short downhill to the finish line. Also talk about a super quiet finish line, where did everyone go? I crossed and someone cut my timing chip from my shoe. I needed some water.

I went to the post race treats area, and I was happy to find some chocolate milk. I grabbed that first, and then ended up chatting with someone for a while. I then thought I needed some water, only to find it was all gone! UGH those 5k runners! Thankfully, more bottles of water appeared. I grabbed one and a chocolate chip cookie.

As I cheered on the finishers, I waited for the results to be printed. They were posted, and I found out I placed 4th in my age group. Which is usually great, but the age group was split all funky: 0-19, 20-40, and 41-99…. um what? This is a school race, and even the 5k was split the same… you think for school kids it would be broken down…and 20-40 is the most competitive group….oh well. I left, no prizes, no medals for me…. lol. Guess I need to get faster and not wear black on a hot day. My finishing time was still near an hour.

Oh this race….will I run it again? Sure, being able to register on race day and the price itself is worth it, plus the money goes to the school. However, I felt the organization change… just seemed to lack in motivation or drive to have a great race…instead they just went through the motions of what was done in the past. Don’t get me wrong, there weren’t any bad things that happened, still had kids races too, and a bouncy house….but there was just something missing.

Bear Stampede 5k

I have run this race many times, but only the 10k. This was my first year running the 5k.


I was also asked to come back to sell my head bands at the race. I did this last year, and like last year I was happy to donate 50% of my proceeds back to the PTO. You can check out more on my head bands here.


This year the race took place on Saturday May 14, 2016 at 9:00 am. The weather was a cool 45-50 degrees, sunny and windy. The 5k was run as the same time as the 10k.

Registration: You could register online through a certain date, and were guaranteed a shirt by a certain date. Paper registration forms were available too, as well on race day for only $25, no shirt guaranteed. Included with registration; bib, timing chip and a cotton unisex t-shirt if registered by deadline.

Even though there was chips to coordinate with registrants, they were still taking new people up to 5 minutes before the race start.

Expo/ Packet pickup: There was no true expo, but there was a packet pick up held the night before at the school entrance. Head bands were for sale at that time. There was also race day packet pick up. For the day before the race, parking was right at the front door of the school, but started just as school let out for the day, so at that time was congested.

The night before packet pick up was dead, it was also raining, so not sure if that was the problem. It’s also a small race.

Pre-race: Parking was nearby, but the race started in front of the school and sections of the parking lot were blocked off. Restrooms were available inside the school. Packet pickup and registration were still open. There were head bands and a raffle. Announcements over a loud speaker. A bouncy house was set up for kids. The National Anthem was performed on a guitar.

– few spectators – mostly included the volunteers at the intersections and family members
-volunteers at each intersection
-one water stop at the turnaround, styrofoam cups
-paved surfaces, sidewalks, nature trail – had to watch footing, but nothing major
-scenery – nothing exciting to see, it’s in a small town
-elevation – mostly flat except the 2 hills near the finish, which are steep
-markers on the course- yard sign style


My race: I didn’t have huge expectations, I was running a marathon the next day, this was just a shakeout for that. However it’s hard not to try and do my best. I ran with Bryan, he was running the 10k. I said I started too fast, and he did too, but I also told him since he was running the 10k, he was pacing me….but later he thought he was keeping pace with me as he thought I was running the 10k. It was his first 10k…oh well, I think he was surprised when I left him at the 5k split. 

I was then following a kid, who would not let me pass him ( I later found out it was my chiro’s kid) He just kept going, he even dropped his water cup, I said it was ok to not have to pick it up…and he turned the jets on, because I was going to pass him. He did smoke me on the last hilly part.  I was also passed by my AG winner on that last hill, and I actually knew her too…her goal was to just pass me, lol. THIS IS WHY I LOVE SMALL TOWN RACES!! I love the running community!

I finished with a 27:37, which was good enough for 20th place overall, but out of 62 finishers. This was good enough for 2nd in my AG of 30-39.

Those last 2 hills are a great challenge, as much as I hate them, I love them.

Josh also ran the 10k for this race.


Finish/Post Race: The timing mats were out for the finish with finish flags on either side. A volunteer snagged the chip from your shoe. There were a variety of home made baked goods (even gluten free), as well as bananas, Gatorade, bottled water, and chocolate milk. Awards were given to overall and first place in each age group.


The one mile and fun run took place starting at 10:30.

For fun I also entered the raffle that was going on as well. I bought 6 tickets for $5 and put them all in the “movie night” box. It was basically all candy, more candy than I have eaten in a long time, but hey I had a marathon coming up, a relay, and a 3 race weekend, who doesn’t love a post race candy bar?


Well I won! I may have given my 5 year old niece a candy bar too, her parents were not happy. I am Aunt of the Year!!!

Overall: This is always a nice community/school event. Great price, fair course, race distance for all abilities.


if you ran this race, would love to hear your thoughts on

Bear Stampede 10k

Bear Stampede 10k, West Branch, IA Saturday May 10, 2014. Sunny 65 degrees. 9 am

Registration: Participants could register through or by submitting a form through the mail. Registration was open until the start of the race. Race distances included 10k, 5k, 1 mile, & kids fun run. Costs from $20-$30, price increased closer to race day. Early registrants received a t-shirt & entry into a random prize drawing. Everyone received a swag bag with flyers, coozies, etc

Packet Pick up: Held at the elementary school Friday evening before race, or race day. No expo.

Pre-Race: Parking available near elementary school, but come early as the street is blocked off. Other parking available a block away on street at Public Library. Timing chips were distributed race morning. The school was open for bathrooms or the drinking fountain. Announcements were made and a school kid sang the National Anthem.

Race: The 5k & 10K started at an inflatable arch and went south from the school to the Hoover Park on the city streets. Once in the park a portion of the course was on a small gravel walkway. We looped the park and headed north back on the gravel & city streets to catch the Nature Trail. The section of trail within the city limits is a chip & seal surface, the 10k went out further on an actual trail surface, some crushed lime stone & dirt. There were 2 water stops for the 10k, in styrofoam cups. Once the out & back of the trail section was completed, there were 2 steep hills and the finish. All portions of city streets did not have any major hazards, but always a good idea to check for cracks or a change in the pavement. Each mile was marked. The local police were at the major intersections and many volunteers at other crossings. The finish was on the downhill and marked with the inflatable arch and the timing clock. A volunteer clipped the chip off your shoe.


Post Race: Lots of baked goods, cookies, bars, muffins, bananas, oranges, chocolate milk, yogurt tubes, & water.  The one mile race was at 10:30 and the fun run at 11. Awards were announced afterwards. Herky made an appearance and encouraged mile & fun run participants. There was a gymnast station set up and Bondi Bands were for sale.


Overall: Great family orientated race. A distance for everyone. The 2 hills near the finish make the course.

Personal: Once again Laura and Josh participated with me. I thought I would try to keep up with Laura…um well she must have had her Wheaties for breakfast, after an 8 minute first mile, there was no way I was keeping up with her. I really pushed myself trying to play catch up which set a new 10k PR, with a time of 53:51. Laura was the 3rd female in the 10k, 1st in our age group, placing me 2nd in our age group. Josh also placed 2nd in his age group. We also ran the one mile run, just because we could.



Fergalicious 5k

August 3, 2013, 8:00am, 70 degrees, sunny, pleasant

Race is held as part of West Branch’s Hoover Days celebration. Race raises money for the West Branch High School Girls Track team and is named in honor of a former coach, Mr. Ferguson.

Pre-race: Registration & packet pick-up open before the race near the finish line in an empty parking lot. Packet pick-up was also available the evening before. Cotton t-shirt for those who registered before the deadline. Average cost $25-$30. Plenty of parking on side streets, the main street of the town was all blocked off for the day’s festivities.

Race & course: Start line was a block from the finish line, marked with a spray painted line on the street. Small announcements made, and we’re given the signal to start. Course was through the town, very hilly! Paved streets, chip ‘n’ seal, and asphalt, no major hazards. One water stop at the halfway point with plastic cups. No mile markers (editor’s note, just drove part of the course, miles were painted on the pavement). A few spectators. Each intersection had someone monitoring the traffic. Finish was clearly marked and a giant clock with the time was displayed. Volunteer grabbed the bottom of the bib for results. When I hit stop on my Garmin it read 2.98, so maybe it was a tad short, or maybe I didn’t push start soon enough or I cut some corners.

Post-race: Water, Gatorade, bananas, bagels, & cookies, plenty for everyone. Previous race t-shirts were even handed out for free to anyone who wanted. Awards took a while to tabulate, but race medals were awarded to first 3 places in age groups.  Raffle prizes after awards, had to be present to win.

Overall: This race is a good challenge as it is very hilly. It isn’t a bucket list race, but a nice hometown race, friendly people. If you have this weekend free, sign up for the challenge.

Personal: This race was part of a 10 mile training run. I hit the Hoover Nature Trail in West Branch before the race to run 7 miles. The trail is nice and flat.. After all those miles, I ran a 2.98 race in 25:08 which if I took the time to do the math is probably a PR time for a 5k for me. My best time at a 5k is 25:56. Training pays off!  This time also awarded me 3rd in my age group, 30-39, also the unofficial best dressed. I enjoy running, so I try to have fun.