The 2018 race was held on Sunday, October 21st. The half, full and marathon relay all started together at 8 AM. It was sunny and barely 30 degrees. Temps would warm to the 50's and it would get windy.Registration: You could register online and as race day approached the fee increased. Race day registration was available at the expo. Included with registration was chip timing and a track jacket.Packet Pickup / Expo: The expo took place at the Iowa Events center on Friday and Saturday before the race. If you could not pick up your things, it was easy for someone else to grab it for you. There was no race day packet pickup available. *I could not make it to the expo before it closed at 6pm on Saturday, my sister was able to grab my things and she enjoyed the expo as a non runner and before I received my stuff from her exclaimed there was "so much swag!"Pre-Race: The race starts and finishes in downtown Des Moines. This means there are many places to park either by paying for a ramp or a free spot on the street. Port-o-potties lined the street perpendicular to the corrals. Gear check was set up. The corrals were self seeding by pace signs. Pacers were also available. I was in the back and could not hear the announcements or the National Anthem. Race/Course: The race is a tour of Des Moines. -Terrain: Paved. Some spots where asphalt could trip you up -Elevation: There were some bigger climbs in the front half of the race, then flattened out. -Aid Stations: There were A LOT of hydration stops. They each had water and Gatorade Endurance, however each stop was different in it's layout, had to check which liquid you would get. There were fruit stops with oranges and bananas. There were also Gu stops. A local bike club/store was mobile aid and had gummy bears, twizzlers and tissues. Also - there is a bacon stop! -Photographers: I believe Marathonfoto was the official course photographer. There are free pictures on the app. -Spectators: Spectators were thicker near the start and finish, then scattered throughout the course. Some spots were sparse, but they were not easy to access. -Course Markings: Each mile was marked with a teardrop flag, and each race distance flag was a different color. There were timing mats. -Volunteers: With so many aid stations, there were sooooo many volunteers. They were all happy and ready to assist. There were lots of law enforcement out on the course as we ran through some neighborhoods with some traffic. The volunteer who gave me my medal at the finish line even shook my hand! -Medical: The medical stops on the course were easily marked with a tear drop flag. Multiple spots and the bike course support was also monitoring. -Bathroom: So many port-o-potties on the course!! -Scenery: This race while run through a city has lots to see, plus it's during "leaf looking" season. Running through downtown you see the sculptures, you run through some ritzy residential neighborhoods, there is the Blue Oval at Drake Stadium just before the halfway point, then you end up on a paved trail section, to then make the trek around Grays Lake. Mobile App: There was a very easy to use mobile app available. This app allowed live tracking. It also had FAQ, picture filters, and anything you'd ever want to know about the race. Easy for spectators too. Finish/ Post Race: The finish line was set up with an arch, timing clock and an announcer. Once across and after short walk a volunteer placed a medal around your neck (even a hand shake) then there were tables with bottled water and cups with Gatorade. The post race food wasn't marked well. The post race beer party area was off to the side before the food, so it was easy to go there first. The beer area had photo opps and the results tent. The post race beer was the Same Adams 26.2.Way at the end of the chute was the food off to the side. There were more bottles of water, Gatorade, chocolate milk, cookies, oranges, bananas, ice cream, yogurt, pretzels, chips and queso, and pulled pork sandwiches. Also there was security making sure the area was for runners only. There was no place to sit.Overall: This was the first time I had ever run this race, even though it was my 29th marathon. It did not disappoint. I really enjoyed the course, the elevation was fair and the tour of Des Moines made it easy to enjoy. It's competitively priced and offers something other than the standard race shirt. I would definitely recommend this race.My race: I didn't pick a training plan, but I did run the miles to be prepared for a marathon. All those long runs were in the heat and humidity, so when I woke up to feels like temps of 25 degrees, I wasn't sure what would happen. I did feel pretty relaxed too.I lined up near the back, I didn't see any pace signs. Then it was time to go..so I went. I met up with the 5:25 pace group and stayed with them until mile 2 when I saw a friend running the half marathon, so I ran with him a mile or so. Then I just pulled away. At mile 6 I needed to use the bathroom, and it was also the only time I checked my watch the entire race. After that stop I could see the pace group sign in the distance. and thought the 5:25 group passed me. I caught up with them to find it was the 5:10 group... and I felt good, so I passed them too. I just kept trucking along. I did think I could catch the 5 hour group, but that was just a thought. I let me music carry me through miles 15-18, then there was bacon and then I came to mile 20. This is where there was a clock set up and I could't believe the time I saw. Since runners are great at math, I about crapped my pants when I realized a PR was possible. I was confused too, as I never saw a 5 hour pace group, or any 4:XX pacers. I just told myself to keep getting to the next mile marker, just keep moving. After mile 24, I walked for the first time, it was a small incline, then I started running again...my calf didn't feel super..so I made sure to drink Gatorade one last time. I passed the 26 mile flag, and saw a group of friends before the final turn, slapped some high fives and saw the clock at the finish line. AHHHHHHHHHH, I was going to set a new marathon PR, and actually blow it out of the water by 10+ minutes. I shocked myself, I crossed in 4:48...and my official time is 4:43. It was hard to breath through the tears I was fighting back. In fact, I am still confused, I feel I missed a mile or something. I think it was just a day where everything came together, I put no pressure on myself, just to finish my race, and the weather played a huge part.
On Sunday, October 21, I enjoyed running my first full marathon within the state of Iowa in Des Moines. At 8am, we lined up 7000 or so strong (marathoners, half-marathoners, and marathon relay folks) to enjoy a grand tour of Des Moines, including some surprises. I was fortunate to be able to pick up my race packet 2 days early on Friday night. I had a little trouble finding the expo location at the Iowa Event Center but it was dark by the time I arrived in town. I was impressed with the expo, the race director spoke and explained to us that we would feel a little crowded for at least the first 2 miles or so until the half-marathoners are directed off to the left and the full marathoners to the right. I made a note of that and tried to watch for fast people passing with batons (that means marathon relay runners). I was impressed to see so many vendors and selections at the expo, including some I wasn't expecting like Oofos for example (make running sandals). And it was nice to see the marathoner jacket in the marathon bag which I thought I could wear if needed on the day of the race. I know you aren't supposed to wear anything you haven't worn before but one must stay warm during a cool breezy race as well. So although I tested the rest of my gear/clothing beforehand, only the IMT Des Moines Marathon 26.2 jacket was new. Arriving in town a few days early allowed me to run in Clive (near West Des Moines) to adjust to my surroundings a little more. Running in Iowa is very similar to Nebraska with some subtle differences. On the day of the race, Sunday, I layered up, grabbed all my gear and my water, and drove off determined to park at Principal Park. Unfortunately, when I got near Principal Park, my route was blocked by police/route barricades. So I recalculated at ended up at a downtown parking garage at 8th and Mulberry. I highly recommend that you do not even try to go to Principal Park to park unless you leave super early. 8th and Mulberry is about 6 blocks away from the start. Just park at a downtown parking garage and you won't get redirected and a little lost like I was until I reached downtown. *Weather was nice for the race-about 38-40 degrees for the start (that's PR weather for some) and it rose into the 50s. It felt quite a bit cooler due to the wind in spots. Prepare for a breeze. Bring some gloves but you might not need them for the whole race. Definitely want a hat and maybe a scarf/wrap of some sort. *Surface: Mostly asphalt, there were some giant potholes and cracks in the road surface so be careful. Some of those hazards were not well marked either. The best surface was the lap run upon the Drake University track. That was a surprise, I didn't realize that was on the course. (The wind almost blew my hat off on the track but I grabbed it in time so prepare for that.) Make sure you have your number visible on the track as they call out peoples names when they enter the track stadium. I had my jacket zipped up until the chip mat on the end of the lap. I didn't realize they were going to do that. Surprise. *Hills: Yes, there were some. Nothing too dramatic, gently rolling hills for the most part. There is a nice downhill between 16-17 where you can accelerate and make up some time if needed. The 4:10 pacer was kind enough to flag that for me. *Hydration/Aid Stations: I was very impressed with the water stops and aid stations. My only frustration was in determining which cups were water and which were Gatorade (all were served in Gatorade cups). Some aid workers were more vocal about which, others I had to ask to be sure. I didn't carry water with me at all so I think I stopped at almost every water station except one. It seems like there were water stops every mile or two throughout the race. *Food/Bacon? Yes, there was bacon. At mile 19, I was amazed to be offered bacon by someone and I told him you've got to be kidding me. He said, no really it's bacon and here you need the salt. Realizing he was right, I grabbed 2 bacon strips and devoured them. Then I had a craving for bacon which I could not find after the race. Yes, I will run for bacon. That was a fun surprise that made me smile and chuckle a little. It was well-timed too. I was happy to see some GU packets offered (I forgot my nutritional protein bars but remembered to take the salt tablets). I grabbed a few salted caramel gu packets and those worked well. They were also offering things like gummy bears, skittles, and M&Ms. And Kleenex/facial tissue was appreciated too (I forgot to grab it). *Animals/Nature/Birds: The most amazing moment of this race was the bald eagle that appeared out of nowhere at mile 21 and was circling above us. A photographer was snapping it and I lost all sense of time and space. I just wanted to watch the eagle. We don't see them very often where I live in Nebraska. We saw other birds too but the eagle stands alone and circling over us, it seemed to affirm that we all belonged running this course. It was a spectacular moment. Unfortunately, my phone was dead and I could not capture it except with my memory. *Can you find people you might know? Yes, I saw two people during the race that I met afterward and we greeted each other during the race. *At the start: very crowded at the drop bag location (this is where my phone died). Allow extra time. I was barely able to move into the area of the start I wanted for positioning for my pace. Mostly I ran with the 4:10 group for much of the race until late. *Chip race/mats: There is a chip mat at the half, 20 miles, and the finish. There was at least one other one I think. Maybe at the Drake track? *Photographers: Yes, there are free photos you can get through the DMM app. Make sure you show your number so they can capture some photos of you. I just unzipped my Des Moines windbreaker whenever I saw photographers. One caught a photo with a nice blue background. The free photos were at the 20 mile and finish point for me. Marathon Foto/Photo has photos you can buy if you wish to do so. *Support/Spectators: The support and spectators was impressive for most of the course. The trail part was a little thinner in numbers but many of us are trail runners so we can be self-reliant on those stretches. Good support around the lake at 21-23 miles or so. Very windy there in that vicinity so prepare to cover up and hold on to your hat. *Medical/Bikes: Bikes circulated in front of us and back and forth to make sure runners were doing well. Medical staff were every few miles and I didn't really see anyone in any distress that I could tell. *Des Moines Marathon app: I was obsessed with the countdown clock. I love keeping track of time like that and it was a good reminder how much time I had left to do x, y and z before the race. I think it's probably the best marathon app I've used for any race I have run. Very easy to use and people loved tracking us during the race (family, friends). *Bathroom/port-a-potties: Plenty of these on the course every few miles. Didn't need one but it was good to know these were there just in case. *Finish: Well marked with a colorfully designed arch and photographers on ladders on both sides. We could see about when the photographers were snapping photos. And it was fun to finish with someone near you even if it wasn't someone I knew. We'll always be in that finish photo series together. This was a wonderful race experience for me. I ran with the 4:10 pacers, wore a 4:10 pacing bracelet. I did run-walk-run as that is how I train and race. My heart rate was a little elevated (and I was cold despite being layered up and wearing double gloves) for the first half so I had to be a little conservative early. Once we reached the Drake track, I was much more relaxed. I remembered my Dad and brothers had travelled to watch the Drake relays there so it gave me a family connection I wasn't expecting. And finally on the trail portion, I felt like I was back in my groove. By 20 miles, I was having a good experience (pretty zippy at 30k point), then I slowed down a little. Managing a recent glute injury, I was trying to avoid aggravating that problem. It became obvious 4:10 wasn't going to happen, then my goal shifted to 4:15. And finally I reset the goal at 4:30-4:35ish and landed at 4:34:42, just under my adjusted target pace. It was a fantastic relief to be able to finish a full marathon and still have energy to walk~slowly~and enjoy it. I knew I had given my all and a blood blister on one foot bore that out for me. I knew I lacked the speedwork needed to run much faster. And that's okay. Sometimes you run a marathon simply to finish and do your very best without a major time goal hanging in the balance. It's a lot less pressure to have some lower-pressure races like this. *Food/drinks afterwards: I was happy to receive a bottle of water right after my marathon medal. The photographer snapped me holding it up. Then there was an assortment of cookies, bananas, chips, queso, pork sandwiches and Gatorade. And chocolate milk. The cookies were irresistible. It was sort of tough to find what we wanted here but we did find the Sam Adams beer area. And the PR bell which we were delighted to see and hear people ring.PR bell: Yes, it was there and it was large and loud, the way it should be. Photo areas afterwards: Yes, we got some great photos by the Des Moines sign with our names on it (also the car had our names on it at the expo) and the I Can Do this! sign was a great location for a photo after too. High fiving friends during the race: Yes, I did enjoy this experience in the middle of the race. It is possible with friends passing on both sides in several locations too, giving us a great opportunity for that. And everyone gives each other energy with that exchange. *Hospitality: I was amazed the warm (Hawkeye) hospitality I received as someone from Nebraska. And I think many people seemed to feel that too. Well done!It's a good blend of urban and rural feel on the trail. Prepare for pleasant surprises. Enjoy the experience! I loved it and I think you will too!
Des Moines was an awesome marathon! The weather was perfect, the crowds were amazing! The city is so clean. And it’s such an easy city to walk in that if you stay close enough to downtown it’s no issue getting in by Lyft or Uber. There was good spacing between aid stations, volunteers handed out twizlers and salty nuts, but I would suggest bringing your own little snack or two. Porta Potties are readily available, but what surprised me about the course is it was pretty hilly for being Iowa. You’re running hills (although not incredibly steep) a good half of the race at least. Really should run this race! What a fabulous weekend it was!
Running is the world’s most accessible sport. Park runs, colour runs, 5k, 10k, half marathons, marathons and ultras — all you need is a pair of trainers and off you go. Running events are hugely popular on Let’s Do This and it’s a sociable sport, so get some friends involved and achieve something extraordinary.
If you’re starting small, the 5k and 10k events are great fun and definitely worth doing even if you’re training for a bigger challenge further down the line. Getting used to the atmosphere of an event is important. You’re so much more likely to hit a better time if there’s a crowd cheering you on, people in fancy dress and a big celebration at the finish line.
Find local Running races
Today, with international organisations, local clubs and national events to choose from, there are thousands of races to discover, and we want to help you find them quickly and easily. Below you’ll find selections by running type, running location and some exceptional events to take part in.