The Hillbilly Hike is a race series in south-central Iowa (just a short drive from Des Moines) consisting of a 10k and half marathon distance. While not necessarily a themed race, some runners really tapped into the spirit of their inner hillbilly. The race was fun yet peaceful — a really picturesque backdrop to a difficult half marathon for me.
For this race, I was playing mental games with myself — attempting to run completely by feel and never looking at my watch. I decided this at the start line, committed to not looking at my Garmin until 5 miles. Five miles came, and I wondered if I could make it 10. Well, I went 10 and decided again that I wouldn’t look at my watch until I stopped it at the finish line. I really was interested in what kind of race I could do (since I didn’t have a time goal) when I was in tune with my body and acknowledging my effort level. Well, I felt like crap by Mile 11 and was definitely feeling symptoms of dehydration before I hit 6 miles (not sure how that happens when it’s only 50 degrees!). I was determined not to stop though, as I didn’t want a repeat of Dam to Dam. I still REFUSED to look at my watch (half contemplating to stash it in my belt, so I wouldn’t accidentally see it).
ALL SAID, I’m so excited and proud of what I accomplished! And Half marathon #8 is in the bag.
Registration and Cost: I initially didn’t want to run another half marathon so soon after the Des Moines half, but the cost was the same for the 10k and half (at least, that’s how I remember it lol). Because of that, I decided to run another half. That’s how we do, right Runners? 😀 With a $5 discount for being a Capital Striders member, after fees the race only cost me $38.69 — it’s a helluva deal for a half!
Packet and Bib Pick-Up: Race organizers reused timing bibs from Dam to Dam (those big honkin’ ones that I complained about) – with a new number stapled to the front. I appreciate their ability to reuse and cut costs, even though I prefer the race-specific keepsakes for my bib wall. Packet Pick-up was the night before at Fitness Sports in Clive (thankfully, local, so I didn’t have to drive out to Indianola twice); I’m pretty certain there was packet pick-up in the morning before the race, too. Side note: In the race day info email, it was stated that 70% of the registration of this race goes to Indianola Christian Union Church mission charities, so it’s all for good cause. Thank you, race sponsors!
Free Swag: Another short-sleeve tech tee for the collection, and the first 320 to register for the half got a special die-cut medal at the finish. I love this medal — including the corn cob on the ribbon!
Parking and Transportation: Plenty of Parking in Indianola at the high school, though there were school busses available to shuttle runners from Carlisle to the start line (me and my car sickness don’t get along very well with this option, so I got dropped off).
Bag Drop: This race offered a Hillbilly Bag Drop for both races. Hillbilly Bag Drop = a car with the trunk open. LOL Just look for the Hillbilly parked near the start line to take your bag!
BONUS: the bag drop Hillbillies were ALSO sweeping the course to collect any discarded clothing found in the first 1/2 mile and bringing to the finish line for a “Lost and Found” pile.
Weather: Holy moly, 50 degrees feels really chilly when there’s no humidity! I kept my long-sleeve on and was thankful that I decided to wear my tall socks, too. There were several points within the course where it felt chilly again (mostly, in the shaded trail areas in the woods). Though, it was that weird in-between weather where you’re not really sure if you’re overdressed or underdressed.
Course: The Hillbilly Hike half course is a point-to-point race starting in Indianola and ending in Carlisle. The trail is mostly flat, paved… yet net downhill. I really enjoyed seeing the various landscapes — lakes, woods, farms, wetlands and prairie — and running over the wooden trail bridges (there were several throughout the course) gave me some intention for picking up my feet.
There were water stops about every 2 miles — it seemed like Gatorade was at most stops, with the exception of maybe Mile 10? At least I didn’t see it there (when I probably needed it most). Most of the aid stations were volunteered by the Girls Scouts (yay!). They rocked it!
Start line: We started in front of Indianola High School – before curving around the campus and entering the McVay Trailhead. There was a DJ in the parking lot making announcements and getting the crowd pumped up and SUPER long lines for the Kybos.
Random BS: Even though the temps were somewhat cool at the beginning of the race (and I took at GU before the race, and half a salted caramel GU about half-way) I REALLY needed more sodium, as my fingers were swollen like it was 100 degrees outside and I was starting to get weird cramps. BLARGH.
Finish Line: The race ended in Carlisle at the Summerset trailhead. The finish line flags seemed to appear quickly on the trail, that I almost looked at my watch to make sure that the race wasn’t short (I guess I was feeling better by the Gatorade that I took at Mile 12, though my split tells a different story).
So you know me and post-race food — this race had apple pie, cherry pie, and biscuits and gravy. The chocolate milk and bananas looked sad by comparison. And gluten-free Mel was very, very sad.
There was also a set up for a fun photo booth with props:
Fans and Experience: fans at the finish line were AMAZING. Volunteers along the trail, amazing. Everyone helping out at the finish line and food tables, amazing. The volunteers TRULY made this event top-notch, and I’d definitely come back to run this again. Panfoto was out taking pics and the Dead Line String Band was playing mid-race on the trail. It was just very, very fun.
After party: While I really, REALLY wanted a root beer float from A&W, I wasn’t feeling so great and opted to return home for my usual post-race steaming shower and 2-hour nap.
The Great: Everyone who worked/volunteered at this race really made it a top-notch event!
The Good: SO MUCH FOOD AT THE FINISH LINE! (and very good for all you gluten-havers 😉)
The Bad: Dehydration. ☹
The Ugly: Um, active hunters (and gun shots) in the distance as we were running the trails.
Splits*: 10:14 (1) / 10:20 (2) / 10:12 (3) / 9:55 (4) / 9:51 (5) / 10:04 (6) / 10:13 (7) / 10:01 (8) / 10:03 (9) / 10:14 (10) / 10:32 (11) / 10:24 (12) / 10:46 (13) / [7:54 (.1)]
10:15 overall pace
*my Garmin clocked 2:13:46, so I guess “chip” time was really gun time
17th in my age group (35-39)