You know you’re at a small town race when… the parking directions tell you to turn left at the only stoplight in town. And Madrid is a small town race (pronounced MAAA-drid, unlike the city in Spain, if you’re not from Iowa). This was the 38th annual Madrid Milers Labor Day Run.

Madrid Iowa runners labor day race blogger

Flat Mel — no bib before race day!

There were three race distances as part of the Labor Day festival: 2 mile, 5 mile and a 15 mile (!!!). Next year, I definitely want to go do the 15-mile race, as you get to run over the High Trestle Bridge. I thought the 5-milers got to do that too (same with another woman that I talked to at the end of the race), and realized on race morning that it was the High Trestle Trail.

I planned this race with my coach during a much-needed cut-back week. My coach created a race plan for me, which started with a one mile warm-up (wut?!). Yeah, I have never run immediately BEFORE a race, but I had to trust the process (and I ended up feeling great while I was running, so…):

I was supposed to start nice and controlled; naturally, the race started downhill and I took off not realizing that I was pacing with some (apparently) 8-minute 15-milers. Uh, NOPE. I regained control just in time for the first uphill. I paced with two local guys soon after and stayed with them for most of the race — until I really picked up pace at the 4-mile mark. This strategy actually worked out well for me to keep my pace controlled. I did start out too fast, but ended up laughing and talking with these two guys and they kept me just about where I wanted to be.

Registration and Cost: $25 (+ fees) through, with race day registration available as well.

Packet Pick-Up and Free Swag: Bib pickup at Madrid Elementary School the morning of the race opened up an hour before start time. I misread their event details that there would be chip time, but there was a bib and electronic timer at the finish. All race entries came with a free t-shirt. No finishers medals for this race.

Start Line: Ha, we started with a whistle — the 5-milers lined up with the 15-milers, and the 2-milers started in the opposite direction on the other side of the street.

Weather: OMG THE BEST. I did my warm-up in long sleeves because of the chill in the air, and it was a perfect high-50s come race time. FALL, GUYS!

Course: We started at the elementary school (down the street from that only traffic light in town) and the course contained various terrains and experiences: part road, part trail, part county gravel (mud) road, part neighborhood; and finished in downtown Madrid — the CUTEST late 1800s, small town kind of downtown. I loved it! I’m thankful to have connected with a couple locals who have completed the race before because, honestly, I think I would have got lost at a few points. There were colored arrows denoting each race course and a few volunteers sprinkled around, but at some turns I would have had no idea on on my own. It’s always good advice to print a copy of the course map when doing one of these small races, and I’ll definitely do that for next time.

Experience: Everything that you love about small races — generally, really friendly runners and volunteers (seriously, the two guys I ran with were born and raised in Madrid and knew every single person we ran by).

Madrid Iowa finish line milers race labor day

Finish Line chute!

Finish Line: There was a mini chute and an electronic sign for finish times (with a woman reading the times out loud as you crossed). There were bananas and water available, which you had to cross back over the finish to get to. But, small race, so just look both ways before crossing!

Running it in, I was actually really confused where the finish chute was, as it just looked like a bunch of people clustered around, and I almost turned down another street until I asked the group “where’s the finish?!” HA. I was in fastest sprint mode and I’m sure it sounded like I was yelling.

After Party: I stuck around for the results and award ceremony for the 5-milers, which started about 20 minutes after I finished. When I saw 3rd place announced for my age group, and it was the chick who I passed at the 4.5 mark, I got so excited knowing that I would take home a medal. That’s rare to do when you’re at the tail end of a 30-39 age group bracket, but such a confidence booster, despite knowing it was a small race and runner pool.

Madrid Iowa chocolate milk anderson erickson iowa blogger

Our Des Moines local brand: Anderson Erickson chocolate milk available at the finish line!


Random Awesome: There was a guy running the 5 who has completed the race in the same shoes for 34 years (!!!). It was really cool to see him finish, and he took home one of his own age group awards.

madrid milers labor day old shoes guy race

Seriously, these shoes have some stories! I love this so much!

The Great: I placed 2nd in my age group AND got a PR!
The Good: The weather!
The Bad: Can’t find race results posted online. Whomp, whomp.
The Ugly: I always get so anxious about the lack of race details and communication before a race. I had to only assume that I picked my bib up the morning of the race with the same-day registration peeps. Again, always something to remember when doing small races, if you’re someone who is super Type A!

Madrid Iowa runners labor day blog

SILVER! I love that the race is marked on the back of the keychain — what a clever idea!

A new PR: 47:24 (ish; didn’t catch the final split seconds, though it’s about a 1:30 faster than my previous PR!)
AND 2nd in my 30-39 age group (holy shit!)

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