Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hawkeye Spillway Update Feb 28

I finished putting up all the ribbons today. I was at the spillway and the good news is that I was actually able to cross it without dunking my feet into the water. True, I had to slowly pick my way across, but it was doable.

Note: There is no particular path to the other side. Go any way you want. I'd probably avoid getting too close to the lower lake though, unless you want to fall in.

That's the good news, but the maybe-not-so-good (kinda depends) is that the forecasted high for Saturday has inched up to 32. This will probably make it pretty nice running weather (I predict some will overdress). But it's going to increase the odds of the trails being really mushy. Again, if I had to predict, I'd say you're going to be on every possible surface: dry and wet pavement, ice, snow, slushy snow, small-ponds-on-the-trail, mud, and wet grass. Basically a lot of muck. So by the time you get to the spillway, it may not matter whether or not you get your feet more wet. :-D

Oh, the park gate doesn't open at some exact time. A guy comes to open it. I think he usually arrives around 6:15 or so? Then proceed in slowly almost a mile and the first lot we will fill will be to your left (just across from the start/finish), then we can stick a few cars on the short road to the start/finish, and the rest will proceed about a half mile farther to the overflow lot. Hopefully that will do it. Cross your fingers.

When you're racing, remember to look for yellow ribbons. Also there will be some yellow buckets which I use as signs. I may have some orange cones for you to follow here and there too.

Think about also if you want to carry your own water bottle, considering the distances between aid stations.

See you soon!


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hawkeye 50K & 25K Feb 27 Update (Last?)

Are you ready to run?!! I hope so.

A few more things. Please read.

1. Look back at the LAST post, where I covered a variety of topics, especially if you have just gotten in from the waiting list. And I want to thank three more sponsors: Chipotle of Iowa City, and Walmart of Coraville, and HyVee of Coralville. Go get something from them too!

2. Look to the right for information you might want.

3. PARKING. I've already mentioned parking may be a problem. Well, since then I've discovered that we may have lost about 10 or so of our spots. Thus, it's even MORE crucial that you carpool as best you can. And that you don't arrive at 7:45 and expect to be running at 8:00, unless someone is dropping you off.

To be clear: When you enter the park, the start/finish is about 0.8 mi from the entrance. There is parking just across from the start. Very close. When that is full, we usually send people down FARTHER to a lot that is about 0.6 miles away. Certainly you can do that walk. There are also a couple of lots (one is tiny) BEFORE the main lot. So if BOTH lots are filled, backtrack and try to use one of those. If all those fill, you have to exit the park, turn left, then turn left on Angler's Point Rd, and hike 0.6 miles to the start. Eh, you probably don't want to do that if you're unfamiliar with the area.

Bottom line: cross your fingers. Maybe it'll be no problem.

4. Well, for once we're getting reasonable race weather, but it wouldn't be a true Hawkeye 50K & 25K without some weather-related issues. In this case, the issue is that after two years of drought, Mother Nature decided to dump some snow on us, just before the race. Natch. Part of me really enjoys this, because you're all going to suffer more. (Bwah ha ha ha) But there are drawbacks. For example, it's the reason we're losing some parking spots. The other problem is that we are probably going to trash the groomed cross country ski trails. I really feel lousy about this. First, if you see a cross country skier, apologize! And agree with them if they yell at you. They've had so little good snow that it's reasonable if they are frustrated seeing us ruin their trails. Second, if it's somehow possible to run to the side of a groomed trail, please do so. And don't dump your garbage anywhere on the course. Of course.

As far as the weather/conditions: If I had to predict right now, I'd guess that it's going to be sloppy. I was marking trails Monday night and I was running in a combination of mud, ice, water, and snow. If you encounter mud, you might as well not bother trying to get around it. Just dive in because it's going to be unavoidable. The 5-6 miles of crushed gravel trail is rather odd. For some reason it turns to a cement-type muck when it's really wet instead of draining in a nice way. It'll suck the energy right out of you if it's wet enough. (Aren't you looking forward to that?!) Not to mention you're going to soak both feet completely at the spillway in freezing cold water. :-)   I will be curious to see how many 50K runners throw in the towel after one lap. Bwah ha ha ha again!

The forecasted temps for Saturday (at this time) suggest a start temperature around 20, warming to about 25-30 by afternoon. And partially sunny. Actually it might be better if it's pretty cold since that could firm up the ground some and make running easier. Maybe it'll be cold enough that all the mud will be firmed up.

It won't be super windy, but the wind will likely be very cold. It'll hit you the worst the first few miles to the first aid station. After that you're buffered most of the time. So don't freak out if you're really cold up to the first aid station. It'll get better.

Just be prepared for all these conditions I've described. And remember you can put fresh socks/shoes on at mile 12.9 of each loop if you want (spillway at mile 11.2).  I'll be out finishing the marking tomorrow evening (I hope) so will see what the situation is then.

5. Speaking of people not completing two laps, remember that you can NOT drop down during the race. Any 50K runner who doesn't do their second lap gets a DNF. We'll still record your distance and time, but you cannot get a 25K award. (Anyone who doesn't finish, try to tell me your total distance and time for recording. And if you leave the race before finishing, be sure to tell me or a volunteer.) You can change which race you're doing right up to race morning. (Preferably not at 7:55am though.)

6. Oh, in the last few miles, you'll go over a couple of old wooden "bridges." They are as SLICK AS SNOT. If you try to run them, you'll wipe out and break a hip. Yes you will. Just stop, and gingerly make your way over them. Just like you will at the spillway, right?

7. By the way, at the spillway you'll see a volunteer (Deb) and her doggy Sophie (below). Thank them for being there! She's just there to watch over you and point the way if needed and Sophie is there to wag you along too. I do believe she needs to leave about noon so 50K folks may not see her on lap 2. Speaking of Deb, here are a couple of pictures she took today after some freshly fallen snow (we got maybe 2-3 inches more?). The second one shows the spillway you get to cross (WALK!) over.

Oh, you may also see a Park Ranger or two out there. They actually like to watch over us. If you see her/him, THANK them for being there, and smile and tell them you're having a blast. We DO want to stay on their GOOD side and all good will extended their way helps.

8. Photographers. I don't hire anyone or anything, but if you have someone coming to watch who likes to take pictures, encourage them to do so! And then to post them where we can all see them.

9. Re: the post-race foodfest/potlock. Everyone is encouraged to eat up, including your family and friends who come watch you. Let them know that. Usually we have plenty of food. (Remember, feel free to bring something. And yes we have outlets if you bring something hot.)

10.  It's hard to describe this, but as we speak there is a huge mound of snow about 10 feet after the start line. I'm not joking. You may have to begin by running 10 feet, then climbing over it. It's like an adventure race! We'll see if it's still there on race day. I hope so!

11. Oh, one of our volunteers Jordan Witmer is doing a study. From Jordan:
I am trying to recruit volunteers for a study I am running at the University of Iowa. It is a bit of a commitment. There will be about 5 visits and 3 of them will be around 6 hours long. The visits will likely be scheduled once a week. Below is a link to the flyer we have for the study. We DO NOT NEED any subjects between 18 to 35 years of age. We DO NEED volunteers who are either sedentary or active between 50 to 79 years of age. Please send me an email if you are interested. And thanks Tim for helping me with this.

jordan.witmer AT
The flyer.  Try to help him out. And if you want to meet him, he'll be at the race. His job will be as the "sweeper," meaning he's going to run behind the last person(s). Email him now if you want to meet up with him there.

12. Surely there is more, but I can't think of what. If I think of something major I'll send make one more post tomorrow night. Keep checking the FB page. Or email me at chemsmith1 AT See you Friday and/or Saturday!

Your friendly RD,


Friday, February 22, 2013

Hawkeye 50K & 25K Feb 22 Update

Hi Hawkeye Runners,

This is just a bunch of reminders and information. In no particular order and please read through it all. Certainly some important stuff!

1. Let's thank our sponsors! Hammer Nutrition, We Run, Running Wild, Panera Bread, Scheels, Sleep Inn of North Liberty, Road ID, and Casey's General Store. They have all donated us FREE STUFF!! If you can go buy something from one or more of these as a way of thanking them. Seriously.

2. Please check the right side of the page for some useful info: maps of the course, maps to the start, previous results. There is even a video of the course. Check it out. Also a couple of previous blogs on the race. Which reminds me: If you know of other blogs or picture galleries from the previous two races, could you forward them to me so I could link to them?

3. Packet Pickup will be at We Run (see above) from 4pm to 7pm on Friday March 1. Also you can pick up your packet race morning starting around 6:30-ish. Obviously the more who come Friday the better. Makes things go more smoothly.

4. Sleep Inn (see above) is our race hotel and you can receive a discounted rate there. Just ask for the Hawkeye 50K rate.

5. PLEASE CARPOOL to the race! We absolutely do NOT have enough parking for 150 cars if you drive separately. Maybe not even for 100. There is a decent amount of parking very close to the start. If that fills up, you have to drive about a half mile down the road to the other lot. If THAT fills up, you're in trouble and we'll send you down to Angler's Point Rd and you'll have to hike 3/4 of a mile to get to the start. Also, when you park, be awesome and pack those cars together tightly. (For those of you locals who happen to know about the lot at the end of Angler's Point Rd and don't mind hiking 3/4 mile to the start, feel free to use that to help out.)

6. I can't give an exact time the gate to the park will open on race day. Roughly 6:15-6:30? This entrance can be kind of easy to drive right by. Don't be surprised if you do that. And I would suggest NOT arriving at 7:45 unless you are being dropped off and you can literally be ready in under five minutes. If you do, you'll not only have very little time to get ready, but you'll end up parked farther away. There will probably be a bit of a pile up around 7:00 but we can't really avoid that. Plan ahead. Be patient with the drivers around you. Go slowly in the park.

7. At packet pickup, you'll have to sign ANOTHER waiver. This is required by the University of Iowa and I didn't write it. For whatever reason, they want signed paper copies. (Yes we run on University property.) These waivers though play the role of "checking in." No signed waiver and you don't exist and you get no result.

Note: all volunteers must sign a waiver too, also required by the University.

8. Race begins at 8:00am. For those doing the 50K, you MUST begin lap 2 by noon. The race ends at 4:00pm.

9. There are aid stations at the start/finish, then at mile 4.5 and 9.6 and 12.9. NOTE: The aid station at mile 12.9 is actually the one at the start/finish. You just happen to swing by it then so it's kind of a bonus aid station. Thus, when you return to the start/finish, you have NOT completed the 15.5 mile lap. You still have 2.6 miles to go. The aid stations will have typical ultra foods: pb&j, M&M's, oranges, bananas, pretzels, salt tablets, water, and Heed sport drink (from Hammer Nutrition).

10. You will cross cold water at mile 11.2, and yes the water is at least ankle deep and unavoidable. (At least that is the case now and I find it hard to believe it will change by race day.) After you go through this water, you will reach the start/finish at mile 12.9 and you can change socks/shoes if you want. When you come to this water crossing, WALK CAREFULLY. Do not be silly and sprint through it unless you want to break an ankle. You then get to clamber up a few rocks before hitting the stairs. Yes, the stairs were just put in there this Summer.

11. You may leave a drop bag at the start/finish. This is probably mostly going to be utilized by the 50K runners, since the 25K runners would be within 2.6 miles of finishing. But anyone can leave something there. E.g, shoes/socks. There is a building overhang to put your bag at, but it won't really keep rain from falling on it so make sure it's leakproof if it is going to rain. Also we do NOT guarantee no one will steal it. Yes we'll be near it all day but not really paying attention to who is grabbing any drop bag. So beware of leaving your valuables in it.

12. Expect the trail and crushed gravel portion of the race to be a combination of snow/mud/ice, based upon the weather we're having now. There are also roots to contend with. You may fall down. Also there are two old wooden bridges. They are ridiculously slick! Walk over them!

13. The course will be marked with yellow ribbons. At a few places I may put signs (actually buckets with writing on them) but you are almost always just following yellow ribbons. If the roads are dry I put down yellow duct tape arrows, but they may NOT be dry. I may put up some black/yellow striped ribbon to BLOCK OFF certain trails. I do my best to mark everything, but you do kind of need to pay attention. Study the course map a bit or carry it with you. (You shouldn't need it, but hey it might come in handy.)

14. As you go through each aid station, be prepared that someone will check off your number. If your number is hidden, know it and yell it out to the volunteers.

15. Remember this course is, VERY roughly, about 5-6 miles of road (most from mile 0.6 to the first aid station at mile 4.6), then about 6 miles of crushed gravel along the lake to about mile 11, and about 5 miles of trail total, most at the very end. There are places you are running on roads with cars driving by you, sometimes at 50 mph. Be aware! Nothing is being closed down for this race! The trails are not closed for us so be nice to any hikers out there.

16. When you finish rip off the bottom of the bib and hand it to a timer.

17. There will be awards to the four overall champions (M & F of both races). Then there are three age groups: Juniors up through 29, Seniors 30-49, and Masters 50+. The top three in each age group get an award. The awards are not mind blowing, but they are awards! Yes, everyone gets a medal as a token of a hard-fought day.

18. Want to change races? You can. You can drop from the 50K to the 25K or vice versa by emailing me (chemsmith1 AT or telling us at packet pickup. You can move up from the 25K to the 50K also, but that'll cost you $10. (No refund for dropping down though.)

19. POTLUCK. It's been a tradition for inspired runners to feel free to bring a little treat for the post-race goodies. So if you want to pitch in, feel free to do so. You can buy something or make something. Anything you like. If you do, do NOT try to feed 150 runners + volunteers + family/friends. Bring something to feed some and that's great. Most of you need not bring anything, but if you're the type who likes to do that, please do! And yes, anyone can eat the post-race food including the volunteers or your friends/family who come to cheer you on.

20. Remember to thank the volunteers. You're running and staying warm. They are often just standing there, FREEZING. For you.

I'm sure I managed to forget something and may send out a followup soon.

See you race day!

Your Friendly RD,