Monday, April 14, 2014

Zumbro 50 Mile Endurance Run

Photo credit Matt Wilson, looking down at the start/finish
A year ago, in 2013, I thought I'd try a 50 mile race, the Zumbro 50 Mile Endurance Run. The logistics of the run are as follows:

Location: Zumbro Bottoms Horse Campground, Southeastern Minnesota.

Time: April 13, 2013. Fun fact: The race begins at midnight.

Three 16.7 mile loops. 9300 feet of climbing and 9300 feet of descending total.

For a variety of reasons, I failed to finish.

1) After a couple of years of being chronically injured (mainly calf related), I was finally feeling fairly good. And for some reason, I had this weird idea that I could run a 50 mile race "any weekend." I think this is probably true for a 50K, but as we'll see, not a 50 miler.

2) I signed up just ten days before the race. I am not sure now why I decided to do this. But I did look over the web site and Facebook and saw something about a hilly race just four hours or so from me. So why not? The race description included the following:"All the snow should be gone and the trail should be in good shape, but once in awhile some patchy ice / snow and mud will linger." Sounds good. Of course, my mind skipped over this next part: "Be prepared for all weather and trail-conditions, watch the forecast and plan accordingly" and focused again on: "typically, this is a beautiful time of year to run in Minnesota." And there were lots of pictures of nice dry ground. That's still what you see on the race web site. I also looked on the Facebook site and saw no mention of snow or anything. Yes there was that 9300 feet of up and down, but those numbers don't translate well into my mind. And besides, I was only going to do 50 miles while others were doing 100! So 50 couldn't be that bad. So I signed up.

3) To get right to the point: Just after I signed up, people started mentioning a snowy course. Oh, well that's alright. I can run in snow. However things started to sound more and more nasty as race day approached. But I arrived, and, long story short, the course was A) WAY too full of ice and snow, and water and mud for me to handle, and B) WAY too hilly for me! Really, I cannot describe to you all the ice and muck we went through. I was woefully unprepared and gutted out two laps for 33.4 miles, and stopped with my tail between my destroyed and cramping legs. I could have limped another lap and finished by the 18 hour time limit since I finished the two laps in 9:30-ish,  but I vowed right there that I was going to come back the following year, more prepared.

Thus, I taped my bib above my door so I would see it every day, as a reminder. And I signed up for the race again on the day registration opened.

So, forward to April 12, 2014. I was better prepared and determined to finish no matter what the conditions or how much I had to walk. And fortunately it went much better. However, it was not without more drama! Here is a quick description of the day:

Many hills were extremely steep. Many roots. Endless rocks up to two feet across - embedded, or loose and slippery. (I didn't really know there would be so many rocks, since the snow and ice was so deep last year and covered them up.) Temps ideal (40's). No wind.

Loop 1: Fairly dry course, just a little mud. Finished in around 4:15. (4:15am)

Loop 2: About 1/3 the way in, rain began (about 5am), first light, then medium, then a heavy rain with lightning, thunder, and even hail. Ran for about 45 minutes in this thunderstorm through newly-formed rivers of mud and then the rain stopped just as I was finishing lap 2, at about 8:45am. Completely soaked, completely frozen, and shaking uncontrollably. Luckily I had a dry shirt to put on and a rain jacket and I got some soup. Finished lap about 8:45, but it took me 20 minutes to get out of there due to the shaking.

Loop 3: It didn't take long for me to warm up once I started running. (Although for a moment I thought my legs had seized up.) Light rain picked up for another 45 min or so and then stopped and temps moderated, but course was a muddy monster. There were rivers of mud and muddy lakes. Many downhills were nearly impossible to navigate. Most of the course involved slipping and sliding with each step. Fun playing in the mud!

So, Lap 1 in about 4:03. Lap 2 in 4:45. Lap 3 in 5:20 (20 min of that just trying to change shirts and stop shaking after Lap 2).

My time of 14:08:40 placed me 44th of 62 finishers. 2nd of 5 in the Male 50+ division. Not sure yet how many started, but 140 signed up. And at least 86 (but maybe more) finished the first Lap 1.

By the way, just to give you an idea of the difficulty of this race: I've done Potowatomi 50 in 11:22, and Ice Age Trail 50 in 9:29!

Below are some pictures. Before looking, note that some were used (with permission) from Zach Pierce Photography.

Some great pics here, although none of these photos capture what some of the uphills, and especially downhills, turned into after the rain, but envision a single track trail, full of rocks and 4-6 inches of slippery sloshing mud, twisting and winding nearly straight down, often with a cliff on one side. Completely treacherous! The only way down was to sit or to grab branches to keep you upright, or to skitter off the trail completely into the woods.

With buddy Garrett pre-race
My cheering section!

Hills aplenty. Photo credit Zach Pierce
Rocks aplenty too! Photo credit Amanda Runnion
Running up high. Photo credit Zach Pierce

Tunnels. Photo credit Amanda Runnion
Photo credit Jennifer Sikes
Photo credit Amanda Runnion
Long stretches of sand. Where does it come from? Photo credit Amanda Runnion
No end of rocks. Photo credit Kevin Langton
Looking down at the start/finish at the campground. Photo credit Janet Gray
Photo credit Todd Rowe
Photo credit Jennifer Sikes
Pictures can't do the steepness of the hills, up and down, justice. But this gives you an idea. Photo credit Amanda Runnion
Photo credit Amanda Runnion
Photo credit Amanda Runnion
After the rain. Photo credit Jennifer Sikes
Lots of this after the rain. It was smartest just to run down the middle of it. Photo credit Amanda Runnion
Lots of this. Shoe sucking mud. For real. Mine nearly came off a few times. Photo credit Jennifer Sikes

Photo credit Amanda Runnion
Photo credit Janet Gray
My motto all day
A muddy success! Neat medals.
View from the start/finish. We ran in those hills.
With race director John Storkamp

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

2014 Hawkeye 50K & 25K Wrap Up

 Hi Runners!

Do you have an hour to kill? I hope so, because this is a new PR in random-ramble-mania.

1. People to thank(!!), also in random order:

  • Brian Fitzpatrick, our Medical Director. He was all over the place all day helping folks. If you need a chiropractor, check him out at Fitzpatrick Family Chiropractic.
  • We Run running store of North Liberty. They manned an aid station, MADE all the awards(!), provided our packet pickup site, and helped in other ways. Get your running stuff there.
  • Panera. They gave us bagels!
  • Gifts cards or cash from: Scheels, Casey's, Walmart, HyVee.
  • Bibs from Road ID.
  • Hammer Nutrition gave us goodies.
  • Relay Iowa helped at the start/finish and elsewhere.
  • Team RWB took an aid station.
  • Susan and Emily from the Lupus Foundation of America, Iowa Chapter, came to help and provided some prizes.
  • Race medals were made by Running Awards, based out of Illinois. If you need awards, you'll deal with Pat Gleason. She's great to work with.
  • Kam Koncepts, makers of the shirts. A start-up company. Give them some more work.
  • Road ID for the bibs.
  • A WHOLE bunch of individual volunteers including Sharron McElmeel, our volunteer coordinator.
  • Runners and others who brought food.
  • Family/friends of runners who jumped in to help. 
  • I've probably forgotten others. I apologize, and thank you!
Thank you all!

2. I want to apologize for the course marking problem. When I finally saw what happened, I was sick to my stomach. I still am a little bit. People have gone off course before. That happens no matter how well you mark it. But this was my fault, entirely. Two turn signs within 20 yards of each other fell. The first flag that fell manage to twist in just a way so as to point the wrong way. The odds of this - ugh. In any case, I should have had more flags/ribbons there. (That spot has never been a problem before.) I'm so very sorry so those who went off course and had to add extra distance or got totally confused. Even worse, had I understood where this was happening, I could have fixed it in 60 seconds. I couldn't fathom where this problem was at. Furthermore it was confusing since for every person who seemed to have a problem, three or four others indicated the course was marked just fine. But now I think those who said that already knew the course fairly well. Or were just lucky enough to spot the way to go. Sometimes it's your own fault when you go off course. This one was NOT your fault so don't beat yourself up over it, please.

If you're newer to trail running, rest assured that "going off course" is actually fairly common. In January 2013 I did an ultra whereby a number of folks got off course about mile 28 and ran something like 2-4 miles more than they were supposed to. I was a lucky one who went the right way and thus "beat" a number of faster runners. And just recently there was a 100K race in New Zealand that was shortened to 69K due to weather (it's not just the Hawkeye this happens to), and the woman's 10th place finisher accidentally cut the course short by 1.5 km and was disqualified. This isn't to excuse my screw up, but to say that this is, to some extent, a part of trail running.

In any case, if this particular problem caused you a DNF, please contact me. Or if it meant you would have placed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, and then didn't, let me know. I would like to make it up to you a tiny bit with a small gift of some sort. If this just caused you to finish 8th instead of 7th, that's not quite as big of a deal, but I still apologize.

Also, if you ran extra and know about how much extra you ran, feel free to let me know and I can include it as a note in the results.

The stupid offending sign:

I have sacrificed this sign in a really bizarre ritual. Don't ask.

3. Speaking of DNF's. If you're bummed about getting a DNF, un-bum yourself. First, a bunch of people DNF'd, including some great runners. Second, a bunch did not START. A DNF is a learning experience and you can do better next time. I know at least one runner finally got a 50K finisher's medal after at least three tries to get one. We all aren't natural superstars who easily accomplish these feats. I know because that's me. In fact, in three weeks I'll be going to back to a race I DNF'd at last year. Crossing that finish line, probably in the very back of the pack, is going to be sweet, about as fine as it will be for the winner who will finish many hours ahead of me!

4. Speaking also of poor course marking, are you thinking that you won't come back to this race because the silly RD can't mark a course right? Well, forget that noise, because next year we'll have NEW folks in charge of this thing. Yes, folks who actually know HOW to run a race. Real organized people! People who love running people! (If you've seen Spamalot you get that.) I'm happy to announce that We Run of North Liberty will be carrying this race into the future! This is very good news. There may be changes, but if so they will all be good. Hey, maybe they'll bring better course conditions/weather! (Although, we WERE pretty lucky this year with the temps, eh?)

Maybe I can RUN the race next year. If so, I'll see you there!

5. Now don't shed a tear, and if you are nostalgic for my RD'ing "style," never fear. I have ideas for a new race. A little more on that below.

6. No Coast Trail Series. Remember there is an informal trail series going on. You've already earned points. Check out the other races: Red Shamrock Trail Run (Apr 5), Sunderbruch B&B Trail Races (May 17), Booneville Backroads Ultras (May 24), Blockhouse Trail Runs (Jun 14), Mines of Spain 5K/10K/Half Marathon (Aug 9), Running Village 50K (Oct), Wildcat 50K (Nov). Go run them!

And, the current points for the series have been tabulated. The point system is explained in the "No Coast Trail Series" Info link at the right. The current points are just below that. Check 'em out.

7. Speaking of races, We Run has a 5K/10K coming up on March 29, the We Run Lucky Run.

8. Many pics have been posted on the FB page. But here are links to them:

Becca FetterKirstin CorriganCrystal Cardon Eskelsen.  Christine Norquist Salinas.  (Let me know if I missed any collections. I'll link to all these on the right, eventually.) Thank you photographers!

9. RESULTS! They are posted on the right. They should be accurate now, but let me know if not.

Some thoughts: Mark Thompson three-peated as 50K champ. Steph Whitmore was our 50K champ, which is impressive since she's really a newbie at all this. (Second place finisher Brittany McConnell may have ended up closer but was a victim of my fallen course flags and ran an extra mile.) And Steph was only about 11 minutes off the course record. I'm thinking maybe she can knock that record down next year if she wants. Our 25K champ Nate Canton was only two minutes off the course record. And our other 25K champ was Anne Brophy, a full seven minutes ahead of the next finisher. Congrats to our Champs! And to all age group winners, and to everyone who was out there running!

Note: If you failed to pick up your 1st-3rd age group award, they are at We Run of North Liberty. Or contact me.

Another note: If you failed to pick up your medal, let me know. Even if you got an DNF you earned one. I have plenty left over anyway.

Look for results eventually to show up at Ultrasignup. And I'll also submit a short race write up to Ultrarunning magazine.

10. Speaking of course records, for the second year in a row no new course records were set. So the current records stand as follows:

50K Nancy Foxen 4:21:41
50K Scott Gall 3:34:21
25K Lynn Dobyns 2:03:16
25K Nathan Hopp 1:45:09

2012 (new course records set)
25K Sarah Gall 2:01:28 (Yes, wife of Scott)
25K Austin Williamson 1:39:33

And that's how they stand today.  So, I finally did something I always wanted to do, which was to make awards for those who hold the course records. Check 'em out!

I know I know, I'm so original and crafty. Now I just gotta find these people to get these to them.

11. I have some old shirts for sale. If you donate $2-5 each for them you can have them. (Plus pay any shipping costs if I send them to you. If you're nearby we can just meet up.) The money will go to Lupus. Here's what I have:

2010 tech shirt 2XL (long sleeve, unisex)

 2010 cotton volunteer shirt XL and 2XL (long sleeve, unisex)

(There was no race in 2011.)

2012 tech shirt M, XL, 2XL (short sleeve, unisex)

2013 tech shirt women's specific S, M and men's S, M. (short sleeve)

2013 cotton volunteer shirt S, M, L, XL, 2XL (short sleeve, unisex)

2014 tech shirt women's specific S, M, L and men's M, L.
2014 cotton volunteer shirt XL only

Of course I only have so many of each size, so first come first serve.

By the way, if you liked our shirts this year and you need shirts printed, you might check out Kam Koncepts. These guys work out of Blue Grass. Give them a try!

Would you like a cap? In the past I've made a few of these. If enough want some, I can make some more. I'm guessing they would be about $9 each (plus shipping if necessary). Let me know if you want one and then I can check on the exact price for the order.

12. Speaking of money, I can announce this much. I'm sure I'll be donating at least $1000 to the Lupus Foundation of America, Iowa Chapter! True! That little race fee adds up. (It helps that I run the race on the cheap.) Thanks again to Susan and Emily from LFA Iowa for coming to help. I'm sure they'll appreciate all YOUR efforts, runners and volunteers, for contributing to the cause. And don't forget the cause. Continue to support it any way you can.

13. And HERE is a way you CAN: Sign up for a new race, here in Iowa, that supports the same cause! It's the LiveFit with Lupus Half Marathon, 5K, and 1 mile Kids Fun Run on May 17 in LeClaire Iowa. This is really amazing to have two Lupus races in one state! Early bird price ends Thursday March 20 (like about now!), so sign up! Now!

14. Did you write up anything about the race? Let me know and I'll link to it on the right eventually. I know of two so far:

Mike McElmeel
Amy Oberbroeckling

15. Almost done.... Hey I mentioned a new race. I gots ideas. Actually this is a simpler race than the Hawkeye 50K & 25K, but it's something that doesn't exist yet in Iowa. And yes it involves trails and running long. Interested in being a co-race director and you're in the area? Contact me!

16. Finally, why does this race exist? Well, because Iowa needed ultras, for one. (Now we have a few!) But the inspiration for this race is my wonderful girlfriend, Deb. She has also been the most dedicated super volunteer for all four years. And this race is dedicated to her.

17. And with that, I leave you with the immortal words of Carol Burnett:

Your Friendly RD,


PS. Don't be surprised if I've forgotten something and contact you yet again...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

2014 Hawkeye 50K & 25K Update #6

Hi Runners!

I was tempted to call this the final update, but who knows. Usually I don't like to update on the last day, just in case someone is traveling and can't view it. But then again, these days, everyone is connected 24/7. Anyway, more randominity (new word). Please read.

1. FINAL ENTRANT LIST with bib number assignments is up. Look to the right. BE SURE YOU ARE ON THE LIST if you are supposed to be. Also it's very helpful if you know your bib number when you come to packet pickup.

2. I failed to mention that race day packet pickup is at the RACE start line.

3. Because of the spillway situation, the 50K runners won't get back to their drop bags until mile 22. Yeah this kinda blows. (I did try again to see if there was a chance we could go over the spillway. No chance.)

4. I marked much of the crushed gravel part of the course today. LOTS of mud, snow, standing water, and ice. The ice is going away as I predicted, but that's just adding to the mess. The crushed gravel part is about 6-7 miles of each loop. 50K runners will do like 12 miles of this mess. Right now this is like running in quicksand. It doesn't really drain right. Slow slogging through it. Don't bother trying to avoid the water. Just go through it. Your feet are going to be soaked. (25K runners will never run on this part.) Tomorrow I'll finish marking the trails so I'll have a better grasp of how they look. Also, thank you Deb and Laurie for helping with trail marking!

Remember, at times you'll follow pink flags. At other times, yellow ribbons.

5. Speaking of the 25K runners, if we could transport them to the spillway pre-race, they could start there and run backwards. (No silly, YOU wouldn't be backwards, you'd run in the backwards direction like the 50K folks will do when they turn around.) Those of you who know the course realize how awesome this would be. If some GENIUS knows how to easily do this (in a day's time) feel free to suggest it. I don't think buses will work. Park roads too steep.

6. Oh, the 50K runners will turn around at the spillway. You know this now. What you don't know is that I put the turnaround at the TOP of that little hill by the spillway. This normally isn't part of the course, but I'm going to make you scamper up it now. You'll see. (I originally was going to make this part of the course. I wish I had.)

7. Reminder: Packet pickup tomorrow 4pm-7pm at We Run in North Liberty. Try to make it. Yes you can pick up packets for others.

8. Make sure your bib number is SHOWING at all times. We have to check off runners as they come through some aid stations. Plus this year we'll be pulling off the bottom when you finish.

9. Speaking of the finish, you'll come through the finish twice, but the first time you're not done. I'll TRY to make one "finish" for the first loop, and another for the real finish. So pay attention.

10. Oh, also PAY ATTENTION TO CARS! You will be running on a county highway and on park roads. All of this is open to traffic. You all know how to avoid cars, so don't get dim-witted and think you don't have to because you are in a race. When you cross a road, LOOK IN BOTH DIRECTIONS. BE CAREFUL.

11. Also, other folks are on the trails. RESPECT them. And do NOT LITTER.

12. There are awards for those who finish 1st - 3rd in your division. Try to find out if you won one before you leave. And thank WE RUN for making the awards!!

13. If I can get things together, we also have raffle prizes. Check the raffle prize table to see if you won. I INCLUDE VOLUNTEERS in this. I try to, at least.

14. I said there would be no gels. Theoretically I have enough to give each 50K runner one single gel. I know, not too exciting. Probably we will put them out at the Solon aid station (first one you encounter) for you to take on your return trip. Just take one, please. Otherwise, again, BRING YOUR OWN GELS. We WILL have salt tabs.

15. Again, very limited parking. Carpool, and snuggle those cars up. Also beware that the main lot is dirt, and it's muddy. You're going to get your shoes muddy just getting out of your car.

16. Thank you Garrett for organizing the race packets, and We Run for making the awards!

That's all I can think of for now. It's almost here. Be ready and be flexible. And HAVE FUN!

Your Friendly RD,


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

2014 Hawkeye 50K & 25K Update #5

Hi Runners!

Please please read everything. More updates and info. Randomly. (I also thank sponsors and such last but be sure to read it!) I hope you have a lot of time because I really know how to ramble.

1. How was your day? Your friendly RD had a busy one. I got the key to the building at the start/finish. I got some more Heed at Scheels. I got the race clock from Running Wild in Cedar Rapids. Gotta have a race clock! (And I'll need a kid to start it for me when I say go!) What else...well I finally checked the course somewhat. Not all of it, but some.'s not looking so great now. Lots of ice. But we have warmer weather coming so I'm hoping it'll melt and soften up. Let's all hope that. It's going to be MUDDY for sure. I started marking the course. About time I know. I also printed out waivers. Yes you have to sign waivers at packet pickup. Rules. And I bought a bunch of food for the aid stations! Right now I have nine 2-L bottles of coke with the caps loosened, slowly going flat... And now I'm writing this. I know! You're jealous! Okay enough of this. On to the real stuff.

2. Yesterday I sent out an email just to the registered runners warning of this situation, but today I have more info. Right now we are NOT going to be allowed to go over the spillway due to high waters. I put the chances of this being reversed as quite low. No one is probably more bummed than I am, trust me. Re-routing will mean killing a certain elegance the course has. Plus the spillway is often the most memorable part of the race. Race Director Tim is sad.

I don't think I can make new maps, at least not quickly enough to post, so you're going to have to work with me here. I'll mark things as well as I can but it won't hurt if you keep this mantra in your head:

A. Out and Back to the Right
B. Out and Back to the Left
C. Two Loops (same loop, twice).

That will describe the new course, as you are standing at the start line. So remember that. Out and Back Right, Out and Back Left, Two Loops. It's a dance.

50K Runners will still experience the whole course (minus spillway) as follows: You will run, as normal, to the spillway. However you will TURN AROUND there and run right back to the start. (This will be about 22 miles total, including 10 miles of sloppy crushed gravel.) You will then go onto a trail about 1.5 miles (to the OTHER side of the spillway), and back. That's 3 more miles. You will then do the final ~3 mile loop TWICE. Total of 31 miles. What this does it put nearly all of the trails at the very end, instead of just at the end of each 25K loop.

25K Runners will do the EXACT same thing as above, except you will not run all the way to the spillway. In fact, you won't even make it to the first aid station. You will instead run, from the start, 3.25 miles and then turn around and come back. Total of 6.5. (That's 6.5 miles with NO aid station unless I can set up a small one at the turnaround. No guarantee but I can try.) Then turn around and do just what the 50K folks do to add another 9 miles for 15.5 total.

The 25K runners will actually do a higher percentage of trail than normal.

One thing about this: The course is designed so that you run facing traffic on the road. (Cars are going by at about 45 mph or more.) However now you will come BACK on this road, with cars at your back. This isn't a good thing, but we have little choice. I'll try to get some volunteers holding signs telling cars to be cautious. You should be okay. The mere mass of runners helps too. You likely won't be some lone soul out there.

3. Other race stuff. Again, check those maps to the start. Don't wait until the last second to figure this out. The entrance to the park (Macbride Nature Recreation Area) doesn't scream at you. It's not too hard to drive by it. I put out a bunch of little flags near the entrance so keep an eye out for them. They look like this:

By the way, those same flags are course markers. The course will be marked in TWO ways! With those pink flags and with yellow ribbons. If you see either one of those, run towards it! There will also be some turn signs. Here is an example:

So keep an eye out for that little guy.

4. As I mentioned above, right NOW the course is an ice-festival. But the temps are predicted to be over 50 tomorrow, Friday, and race day. Surely much of that ice is going to melt and/or get mushy. So be prepared for possibly some ice, but more likely a LOT of wet muddy slop.

5. Packet Pickup! It will be Friday evening at We Run from 4pm to 7pm. PLEASE try to pick up your packet then. However if you cannot, you can get it race morning. Don't arrive too late if you pick your packet up in the morning.

6. On race morning, the park gates will automatically open at 9:00am. You cannot enter the park before then. I'm guessing there will be a line of cars at that time, which is fine. When you enter drive carefully for 0.8 miles. We'll have folks there to tell you where to park.

7. PLEASE CARPOOL if you can. Parking is very very limited. And we may be losing some parking spots thanks to piled snow and muddy spots. Please also park close to the car next to you. Don't leave five feet between cars. Don't parallel park either, please.

8. Race begins at 11:00am. The last update had info about drop bags and related stuff.

9. Oh! We have a place you can shower after the race if you need to. Go to Core Fitness West of North Liberty (1395 Jordan St, North Liberty, IA, 319-351-2673, not far from Friday's packet pickup). For $5 they will give you a towel and let you shower. They are open 24 hours.

10. Acknowledgements: We are being supported by We Run of North Liberty, Running Wild of Iowa City, Coralville, Cedar Rapids. Also Team RWB will take an aid station. We Run will take another, and Relay Iowa will take another.  Dr. Brian Fitzpatrick of Solon will be our Medical Director. Please thank all of them along with other volunteers you will see out there.

11. Sponsors! We Run, Running Wild, Scheels, Casey's, HyVee, Walmart, Panera. Please buy something from them!

12. We're looking at a high of about 50 on race day. (Friday night low of 30.) At least that's pretty ideal!

That's all for now. I may send out a final update tomorrow? I probably forgot something. If I can find the time I'll update the entrant list tomorrow.

Your Friendly RD,


Tuesday, March 04, 2014

2014 Hawkeye 50K & 25K Update #4

Hello Frosty Runners!

Okay another update with my current thoughts and reminders. PLEASE read the first point even if you have dropped from the race. Randomness now follows. Thank you!

1. I have updated the entry list. Please look to the right, and please let me know if I made a mistake. If you dropped and your name is on there, please let me know. Or if you dropped from the 50K to the 25K and I didn't update that, let me know as well. Thank you thank you.

2. Hey, a reminder that this race is to raise awareness of, and a few dollars to fight, Lupus. This is a relatively poorly understood, and difficult to diagnose, disease. For the second year in a row we'll have representatives (Susan and Emily!) from the Lupus Foundation of America, Iowa Chapter, here to volunteer.

Along these lines: Well it's funny because I've joked for awhile that this race was the only race for Lupus. I was quite wrong. We found a race in California that is in its 14th year. So I stand corrected. (Lupus Race for Life)

But more interesting is that there is a new Lupus race, and, believe it or not, it's here in Iowa! What are the odds of this?! I urge you to check it out. It's the Live Fit With Lupus Run, and it's just an hour away from here in LeClaire, near Davenport on the Mississippi. (Thanks Jen for the heads up!) It includes a 5K, a half marathon, and a 1 mile fun run for the kids. May 17. I may have to run this myself.

So, well, although we were scooped on the Lupus race, maybe we're the only state with two Lupus races? And Hawkeye may be the longest Lupus race.

3. Aid stations. Again, a reminder that the course is a 15.5 mile loop. You will hit an aid station at about miles 4.5 and 9.6. You then just happen to go by the start/finish at mile 12.9, so that's an aid station. And then of course at the finish at mile 15.5. Loop two is of course the same. So be able to go a full 5 miles without aid. Also, there won't be any gels on the course. I know many races provide gels, but we do not.

Aid stations will have: water, Heed and/or Gatorade (maybe also Cytomax), Coke. Bananas and/or oranges. Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. M&M's, pretzels. Salt tabs (S-caps and/or Endurolytes). If there is some other fuel/food you just GOTTA have, please bring and carry it. (Also feel free to suggest it. Never know, I may go get it.)

I'm tempted to tell you to carry your own liquid container so we could "go green," but for now we'll still have cups. But if you bring a bottle, we'll fill it for you.

4. Current course conditions and weather outlook. Well I'm sure you are all aware of all the cold and snow we've had. Normally one would NOT expect snow on the ground on March 15. Indeed, two years ago we had this race on this same weekend, and temps reached well over 80 degrees, breaking all records. But right now we've still got snow on the trails. And while we have some warmer-than-freezing days coming up, it's your guess as to how much snow will have melted. And the trend appears to suggest temps may not be up to average high (46) that day, but we'll see. Assuming much snow does melt, my guess is you'll be running in some wet and mud. So be prepared.

5. By the way, we DO have a heated indoor building at the start. It's not huge and we all can't get in there at once, but you can go in and out. After the race, come inside and eat and relax. It'll be crowded but fun.

6. There will be one indoor bathroom and two portpotties right at the start.

7. Drop bags. Most of you 50K runners might want to know about drop bags. Right at the start is a long-ish building with an awning hanging about a foot over. Under that is where we usually line up drop bags. First, 50K runners have priority for this. There's little reason a 25K runner needs a bag there. Second, this is not a waterproof spot. Be sure you bag/container is waterproof.

We can not guarantee "security" regarding your drop bags. Don't stick super valuable stuff in there. Sure we'll be standing by them all day, but unless someone looks very obviously like a thief, we're not going to know who is looking into your bag. (We've never had a problem.)

Yes runners, you could leave something in the building. Then again, if everyone leaves a big bag in the building, there's no way it'll all fit. So don't bring some huge duffel bag to leave in the building. Again, we can't guarantee its safety.

8. Pot luck. If you want, bring a small treat or any item to share for after the race.

9. Thank you to our sponsors! We have on board We Run of North Liberty, Running Wild, Scheels, Caseys Convenience Stores, Walmart, HyVee, Road ID, Hammer Nutrition, Trail Runner Magazine, authors Jay Danek and Scott Ludwig, and Panera Bread. Yes, Panera means we'll have bagels after the race.

We're racing in 11 days...

Your Friendly RD,


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2014 Hawkeye 50K & 25K Update #3

Hi Runners!

More reminders and random stuff. Yes some rambling and repetition. Please read closely though. Race day is in less than three weeks!

1. Hey here's something exciting! Did you know you are now part of a new trail race series in the area? You are! It's called the No Coast Trail Series and you're automatically enrolled in it by signing up for the first race in the series, the Hawkeye 50K & 25K! Look to the right and you'll find information. What's written there is all I know about it. It looks cool! I'm hoping to run the new race at Sunderbruch, and I'm signed up for Booneville already, so you should too

2. Well the big news is the weather. Holy Guacamole this has to be putting a damper on some folks' training. Hopefully you're not one of them? For those of you not from right around here, we still have snow on the ground, despite two warm-ish days and a downpour last week. And rumors have it more snow is coming. Furthermore, there appears to be no relief from this super-cold in the next ten days or so, taking us through about March 6. If this cold continues, expect there still to be snow on the trails. But then again it could warm up. Two years ago on this same weekend we had our infamous 80+ degree weather race. If it does warm up, expect mud? I have no feel right now for how high the water crossing will be. We'll have a better grasp on things in a couple of weeks of course.

3. Speaking of training, it's about this time that some folks start to get cold feet (no pun intended) about that 50K they signed up for. I am not encouraging you to drop down, but here are the rules: You can drop down to the 25K at any point including race morning. You don't get a refund. (You can move from the 25K to the 50K as well, but you do have to pay an extra $10 for that. I don't think anyone has ever done this.)

The moment the gun goes off and you start running, you're in the race you signed up for. You cannot drop down mid-race. So, for example, if you are signed up for the 50K and do just one lap, you DNF. You still get your shirt and can have a 25K medal and I'll record your time for what you did, but you cannot be on the 25K podium. 

If you DO want to drop down, try to do so before race day, actually. Makes it easier on me and the morning packet pickup folks. I assign bib numbers based upon which race you're in.

4. Also, if you cannot make it to the race, please let me know ASAP. We still have folks wanting to get in.

5. There is a race hotel. See info on the right. You can also find maps to the start, previous race results, and even a video of the course.

6.  Parking. Please carpool if you can! Parking is very limited. The first folks will park quite close to the start line. Later folks will be about 0.6 miles away. And please pack the cars as tightly as you can. There should be no parking on the main park road.

7. For race vets, notice the new start time. The gate will (automatically) open at 9:00 am and you can drive in. Race begins at 11:00 am. There is an 8 hour time limit. 50K runners must begin lap two before four hours. By the way, sunset that day will be at 7:13 pm, which is just 13 minutes after the eight hour time limit. So we really have to enforce that. (Note: you'll set your clocks ahead the weekend before this.)

8. If you're a volunteer, I need to get emails out to you. I'll try to do so soon! Thank you for volunteering! And runners, be sure to thank every volunteer you see on race day!

9. Packet pickup will be at We Run in North Liberty, probably from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm Friday night. There is race morning packet pickup but please do it the night before if you can.

10. Remember, if you like, feel free to bring some food or drink on race day. A little something for the post-race refueling. Whatever you like, but only if you really want to. And if you do, don't bring a ton of food, but enough to feed 20 or so. If enough of you do that, we'll have a great feast. We'll bring some food too (e.g., bagels) but it's always fun to have the runners contribute their favorites.

9. Thanks to our sponsors! We Run, Running Wild, Scheels, Panera Bread, Casey's, Hammer Nutrition, Road ID. And to Jay Danek and Scott Ludwig for donating books they authored.

Your Friendly RD,


Monday, February 10, 2014

2014 Hawkeye 50K & 25K Update #2

Hola Runners,

More complete randomness. Most updates are like this. I know it's often repetitive. And I'll keep repeating things. And I'll keep repeating things.

1. Again, remember to look at things on the right. You'll see race hotel information, course maps, maps to the start, and even a video of the course.

2. Get on the FB page. Once in awhile I pop something on there first because it's so quick.

3. REALLY IMPORTANT: If you cannot make it to the race, please tell me ASAP! We have nearly 50 on the waiting list. I'm stretched to the limit and can't add unless someone drops. And don't ask - I can't raise the limit any more.

Also, you CAN drop from the 50K to the 25K. There's no refund, but you can do it. Let me know anytime. You can even do it race morning, although that's slightly stressful for us so try to do it earlier if you can. You can move up to the 50K too, for an extra $10, although I don't think anyone has ever done that.

Note: You cannot drop down during the race. Sure you can just do one lap and stop, but you'll be counted as a 50K DNF. I try to record everyone's final distance and time as best I can though.

4. Also important: Parking will be very tight on race day! PLEASE carpool if you can. There will be three parking areas. One is literally surrounding the start line area. Not a lot of spots there. The next (main parking area) is about 100 yards away. Once these fill up you'll have to park about a 0.6 miles away. This isn't far, but chances are if you are late enough to have to park there, you're going to be rushed. You can not park on the main park roads.

5. Some races have a lot of gels at the aid stations. This race will not. I get just a few gels from Hammer Nutrition, and I can't afford to provide more. I think most of you are used to carrying your own gels. You can do that here too. We'll provide the liquids. (Heed, Gatorade, Water, Coke) You bring the gels. And do NOT litter. Carry trash to the next aid stations. Speaking of which, for each 25K the aid stations are at miles 0 (start), ~4.5, ~9.6, ~12.9, and 15.5 (finish). The aid station at 12.9 is the start/finish, which you just happen to go by at that point. So be able to go five miles without an aid station.

6. I've never had any kind of sound system at the start/finish to play music. If anyone knows how to set that up, that'd be cool.

7. Speaking of the start/finish, there WILL be an indoor building. It's not big and not everyone can fit in at once. But you can go and in and warm up if necessary.

8. Weather? Your guess is as good as mine. Could be snow. Could be hot. I can almost guarantee wet, at this point, with all this snow, which has to melt at some point. Remember too we have a very wide water crossing, but that can range from bone dry to up-to-your-knees.

9. One thing we like to do is accept your food. If you want, bring something yummy for the after-race! If you have a favorite thing you like to make, go for it. And we can plug it in so feel free to bring hot stuff as well like soup. Or bring desserts, chips, drinks, anything. Don't try to feed 150. If you feed a few, that's great. Totally not required, but very appreciated! One year we had a runner's girlfriend make grilled cheese sandwiches. Mmmmmmm. (Note: No beer allowed. Sorry. Park rules.)

10. Hey, if you email me, and I don't respond, email again! I try to answer every email, but once in awhile it just rolls off screen before I get to it. Gently remind me about it, please. I never intend to ignore you.

I can't think of anything else, although I probably will in a few minutes. Keep on running!

Your Friendly RD,