Amana Freezer 5k – Race Recap
This is the infamous meat bag event, instead of the standard race t-shirt, participants can opt to get a bag of goods from the Amana shops. This is why I come back year after year.
The 2019 event was scheduled to take place January 26th with Winterfest, but the weather had other plans. The forecast had windchill temps well below zero, so the race was postponed to February 9th. Winterfest activities still happened in January. I also understand postponing for the sake of the volunteers.
Saturday, February 9th was a cold, sunny day. The race wouldn’t start until 10 AM, and temps topped around 10 degrees, but there was still a windchill. The other part of the equation, we had just had some ice and winter weather pass through.
I arrived to the Amanas early, I had to get my meat bag and I wanted to check the course out. I am familiar with the route as I have run this event 5-6… I don’t know how many years.
The roads from Iowa City to Amana were fine, but once I was on the race course, it was a skating rink. I even stopped my car and got out to check. I was amazed the event was still going to happen.
After a stop at the local convenience store, I made my way to packet pickup. It was in a new, smaller location this year. A wood shop of some sort, but it was warm and picking up my things was easy. I was shown to a list of names with bib numbers, then proceeded to get my bib, meat bag and timing chip.
I went back to my car to finish getting ready and open the meat bag. This year the contents included a coupon to a chiropractor, some Bio Freeze, race flyers, a package with 2 smoked pork chops, a pfefferwurst and I was lucky enough to get 2 tickets to the Millstream Brewery!
I had all my layers, my ice spikes, my bib and I was ready, but the race was still 10 minutes or more out, so I went and ran a half mile to literally warm up. A key to winter running is not standing around, but keep moving and I didn’t want to stand around at the start line.
I made my way to the starting area and I would say with the postponement of the race, there was a nice crowd, but probably a little smaller than previous years. I chatted with some people I knew and told them the course was covered in ice and all the sudden everyone was moving forward. I didn’t hear a gun or a “go.” There was no sound system and I was near the back.
I don’t recall the last time I raced a 5k, heck the last time I raced was Dec 1st. The conditions would call for some slow times, but I was feeling like I needed a sub 30. I also had my ice spikes, which give me a little confidence, but they really need to be rotated as I have worn them down.
I trotted along and when I came to the one mile marker, I noticed the leader had not yet come back from the turn around in East Amana, so I knew it was really going to be a slower day. Then as I thought that, I saw him.
I ran in places that had a little snow for some extra traction and I was amazed at everyone running with no visible ice traction. Even the leader had nothing, unless he had screw shoes – which could have been the case for many.
I looped around East Amana, said thanks to the one volunteer and ran by the cows, yep it’s a stereotypical Iowa race. On my way back to the finish I noticed a lot more people taking it slower than usual, these are the smart runners…. the ice was no joke. Once you would find a decent place in the road – this would be a place with some sand or air pockets under the ice, that place would disappear.
I rounded the last corner to see Tim cheering people in, I gave him a high five with my non gloved hands as I was randomly overdressed. Then I saw the finishing clock and felt good about my effort. I finished near 28 minutes – Garmin time of 28:37.
I saw Lois and Jen crushing the race! The sun was really showing off the glare of the ice at this point. Still amazed that I don’t recall one slip, fall or broken bone. I had made it about a half mile out, so I thought I would come back… and I ran back to the brewery.
When the race coincides with Winterfest the brewery is packed, so I thought I would grab a drink and then come back to the awards and raffle. There was no line at the brewery, I cashed in a ticket for the Schokolade – which is a chocolate stout. It is stout season y’all!
Then I went back to my car and took off a sweaty layer, poured the beer in a coffee mug, and made my way to the awards. The firefighters were selling their chili in the Winterfest mugs outside the building too.
I was just in time for the awards. There was still a lot of post race food available too, so I grabbed a half of a bagel to enjoy with my stout. I listened to the awards and the overall winner won in a time just under 18 minutes, that is still super fast in my book – CONGRATS!! I placed like 52nd out of 157 finishers, and wasn’t close in my age group since it’s a 9 year span, and I am at the slower end of the spectrum. I don’t really care about winning, I was happy to be back out running at races.
The awards ended and it was time for the raffle. I have won before, I think it was some wine or tickets to the theater or something, so I had my fingers crossed. There are running store gift certificates, grocery store baskets and usually bird seed from the feed mill. Well this year had those things, but no bird seed…which had the older population a little upset. LOL
I left with an apple and made my way back to the brewery to cash in my second ticket. There was no line again. I ran into another runner and we chatted for a bit. I asked for a cream soda and was on my way. Millstream also makes a root beer.
This isn’t some big time race, it’s just a great small community event that usually kicks off the running year. I will always try to run this, not only for the meat bag, but to see the running community.