I couldn’t let 2017 end without getting another Iowa race recap completed. The NewBo Run half marathon was race two of my double Labor Day half challenge and my 14th half marathon overall. And, strangely, my last half marathon of the year. Geesh… has it already been 4 months since Labor Day?! As the Rockin’ Chocolate was the day before, I intended to take this one easy and enjoy the experience (best I could) while hanging out and catching up with my friend Chelsea (see her race recap here). I followed along with her run-walk method, but halfway through my legs couldn’t handle the abruptness of the stopping and walking motion, which resulted in me basically doing a slow shuffling while waiting for her to catch back up when it was time to run again. My legs were positively DONE after this race – and we still had to drive back to Des Moines afterward!
Registration + Cost: Registration was online through GetMeRegistered and only cost me $25. For a half marathon, that’s an incredible deal! (I can’t remember if it was a special discount.) You can pay extra for the shirt or opt out; I chose the latter to save the $5 and OF COURSE I wanted the shirt after I saw it. The ever-awesome Angie mailed me one (and a sticker) post-race and trust me when I say it’s my most comfortable shirt in my collection and I wear it all the time.
Packet Pick-up: Having never been to Cedar Rapids before, I wasn’t quite sure of the NewBo City Market location to pick up bibs – or how far away from that location we should park. After nearly having someone back into my car in a street spot a few blocks away (free meters on weekends), we opted to drive closer to the market and park on a side street. The risk of being in a new city and parking on a street are the unknown laws – and we DEFINITELY saw cars being towed that were parked in lots around the market (we were safe on the street). So, don’t park where there are OBVIOUS signs not to.
Weather: It was WARM. Completely opposite than the prior day in Madison.
Start Line: The start area was a block away from the market (where packet pick-up was) and “following the crowd” was easy enough. The start felt very energetic!
Course + Elevation: One of the biggest concerns on race day (outside of the heat) were active train crossings. As in, yes, you may get stopped up on the course by an actual train and have to wait. That… almost happened to us (near the end of the race) but was only an individual locomotive entering the industrial area – thankfully, not at full train speed. HA! I trained for trains!
All that out of the way, the first part of the course was on open country road with no shade and rolling hills – not the easiest thing mentally or physically when you finished a half marathon already the day before – some farm animals to pass the time, if you’re into that (but also adding another roadkill opossum to my BINGO card). I couldn’t wait to get to the Sac and Fox Trail portion of the course where it was shaded and beautiful.
THUMBS UP FOR SHADE!
Aid Stations: This race does NOT supply Gatorade and I was unprepared for that – and particularly concerned with the heat not having the extra electrolytes. While I understand that it’s an expense, based on my previous race experiences, I thought maybe the race would readjust given the expected temperatures or at least have available at the finish. If I remember correctly, there was one gel station on the course.
At the first aid station, the front racers for the 10k were coming up around the loop… and basically colliding with us “back of the packers” who had to cross over from the left to the right to reach the water stations. It was confusing, and frankly, dangerous. The poor volunteer was also unable to keep up and I handed my cup over to one of the faster runners who was (unfortunately) yelling for a water. After the fact, I wondered if that was not our aid station at all and was for the back portion of the course coming in.
Finish Line + After Party: NewBo really puts an emphasis on their local businesses, and several highlights are included in the post-race party: kolaches, pretzel rolls, breakfast burritos – all from different places – and of course, beer. Finishers got a plastic cup at the finish line to fill at a Lion Bridge Brewing tent (which I can’t have; there’s water if you need it 😆) OH! THEY HAD A CIDER! Which was awesome! But they wouldn’t give me that in place of a beer, so I had to buy ANOTHER cup (for the Arts Fest happening on that same day, which I could walk around with) AND pay for the drink. The cider was delicious, FWIW. PS: There was also Sangria available, which followed the same rules as the cider/cup purchasing above.
We went back to the hotel after the race and returned to the City Market to check out the vendors (and eat a lot of things), stroll the ArtsFest, and then had lunch (and some kind of neat Grapefruit-looking cider) at a local pub.
Random BS: I know we were “slow” finishers but C’MON, save some kolaches for ALL the runners! And if you were a spectator and ate a kolache, I am internet shaming you. I personally cannot eat one, but I will speak out for my fellow hangry runner. I was so excited about the finish line Czech baked good that I was raving about them to my friend. And she didn’t get one. I took her later to Sykora’s in the Czech Village to make sure she didn’t leave Cedar Rapids without one.
Swag + Medals: One of the big draws for me was this finisher’s medal — despite it nearly chipping my tooth putting it over my head. 😆 (I need to work on my moves a bit.) It’s a piece of pottery on a string essentially and I positively LOVE that it incorporates the shape of Iowa into its design. Age group winners get a special piece of hand-crafted ceramic pottery. It’s that extra special touch that I love about small races!
BONUS: On NewBo’s race results page, when you click your name, it’s hyperlinked to a video of your finish. HOW COOL IS THAT?!
The Great: The medal is a must-have, unique item!
The Good: Since I display my bibs, I was happy to have a race-specific one – despite this being a small race.
The Bad: This race needs more kolaches. I never imagined the day that I would have to write that. It’s like Czech osud and I’m sure my ancestors would be very proud of my fight for baked goods.
The Ugly: No gatorade on the course – plan ahead!
TL;DR: You should add this Iowa race to your summer schedule. I would definitely go back and run again.
53rd in 40-49 Age Group