Latest reviews by Angie Maske-Berka

(2018)
"thunder and lightning"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
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The 2018 event took place Saturday, June 9 at 8:30 am, at the Keota Community Schools. The race was delayed after a storm passed through, it remained cloudy and another storm passed during the race. It was warm 70-80 degrees. All events 10k, 5k, and one mile started together.

Registration: Early rate was a flat $10 for all events with a guaranteed unisex cotton short sleeve shirt. The price increased and topped out at $15 for all events, shirts were first come, first serve. You could print out the registration form from the web and send it in, or register on race day. No online registration.

Expo/Packet pick-up: No expo. No bibs. No nonsense.

Pre-race: Plenty of parking on the school grounds or on nearby side streets. The school was open for access to the bathroom. Music pumping on a loud speaker provided by the local radio station van. Announcement made to line up. The National Anthem was a recording. 10k participants were told to line up on the left, 5k to the right with the mile.

Race/Course: For the most part the race was an out and back course on the west edge of town.
-Elevation: flat, one hill at the 10k turnaround, but nothing steep
-Terrain: all on the roads, some asphalt, some country highway, could run on the gravel shoulder
-Spectators: random family members only
-Aid Stations: water only, I believe there were 2, but with the weather, blowing them down, I can't confirm
-Scenery - cornfields and houses
-no photographers
-course marked with spray paint on the road
-Volunteers: There were law enforcement at the major road crossing and the fire department at the 10k turnaround. No volunteers on side streets, but not needed.

Finish/Post Race: There were cones set up at the finish line that was sprayed on the road. A volunteer pressed the split time on a stop watch, and another gave you a popsicle stick with your placement. Proceeded indoors to turn in your stick, so they could write down where you finished on a piece of paper. Bagels and bottled water available inside the school.

Once all finishers were in, the results were tallied and awards were handed out.

Overall: Excellent no hassle small town race, and the price....$15 for a race day 10k...can you beat that!?!?!??!

My Race: Where do I begin? The RD position had changed, and as it turned out, I knew the new RDs through social media, I couldn't miss race day. I left my home and the sun was shining, but when I arrived in Keota, it was cloudy and storms were popping up on the radar. I will run in the rain, but lightning is really scary. The race was delayed for a storm that popped up and passed through at 8 am. In this time, I discovered I was the only female running the 10k. Soooo.... I already won, lol, but when I toed the line, I set out to run my best.

I was already in last place, when the 5k runners were on their way back in, but I could see the 5 other 10k participants up ahead. I could also see another storm rolling in. This out and back section is flat and surrounded by cornfields, with a view as far as the eye could see. Then there was lightning and thunder, then the rain started, followed by lots of headwind and more lightning. Where or what what was I supposed to do? crawl into a cornfield? there was no shelter? The police or fire department did not come shelter us. When I made it to the turn around the RD caught up with us and asked if we wanted to continue. At this point, we had run through the worst, and if given a choice, I will not quit. So I carried on.

That was the scariest thing I ever have run through, random lightning strikes with no shelter. The RD should have got us earlier and canceled the race, however they did not have the keys to the vans to gather everyone and did the best they can with a sedan. I am also very surprised the fire department didn't get us. The visibility was also very bad and the road was open to traffic. Runners were running on the road.

With all that being said, I did come in second to last, I passed one person!!! Of course I won my division. With the weather situation aside, I will always try to come back to the race. I like the price and that there are no extra logistics to worry about. Plus the event is centered around a small community that loves their town, stay for the parade!.

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(2018)
"Coldest post race chocolate milk!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
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The 2018 half marathon took place on Sunday, May 27. It was sunny, humid, high in the 80s. Race start at 7:00 am

Registration: Available online and at the expo, with increasing prices as the race neared. Included was a bib with your name, finisher's medal, timing chip, post race beer, gender specific short sleeve soft shirt, and free race pictures.

*you could also register for the Conquer the Capital Challenge, which would earn you an additional medal and hoodie, if you ran the 10k the night before.

Expo/Packet pick up: The expo was held at the Monona Terrace. Parking was on-site in a ramp for a $5 or on the street at a meter. There were also other events going on here. With the proper paper work someone else could grab your packet. There was a place to check that the timing chip worked on the bib.

The expo was small. There were area running stores, local race booths and places to make signs. There was race specific merchandise, information and plenty of photo opps. There were even water coolers provided. The expo was the day before the event, you could register too. There was no race day bib pickup.

Pre race: Plenty of FREE on street parking blocks away. Port-o-potties lined up on the street. The race started and ended at the State Capitol. The National Anthem was sung before the events. Corrals were self seeding, and pacers were available.

Race/Course: The course seemed different from the year I ran, it was on the western side through more residential neighborhoods.
-Terrain: all paved, some spots with potholes. There was one area near the finish under construction. Small section of limestone trail
-Elevation: There are hills, longest climb was near mile 9
-Aid stations: It was announced there were to be 10 stops. They all had water, and some had lemon-lime Gatorade. All were in paper cups, and each liquid a different cup. However, each stop was laid out different, wasn't sure which liquid was first. bananas. I don't use gels, so I can't recall if there were any. No food.
-Scenery: The course was lacking the usual Madison sights like the sports arenas and arboretum. There were views of the lake, and residential areas.
-Photographers: FREE pictures from various locations on course
-Course markers: each mile was marked, course easy to navigate
-Volunteers: intersections with marshals or police, very upbeat at aid stations
-Spectators: There were a great spattering of them along the course with lots of fun signs
-Tracking: there was an app 'Race Day Events" that you could download to track runners and find race day information.

Finish/Post race: The finish line was under the starting arch. Photographers there to snap a memory. A volunteer placed a medal around your neck. Then you were given a bottle of water. There were orange slices and bananas and more food which was already bagged up from Panera - a sandwich (meat or veggie) chips and a cookie and chocolate milk.

Once out of this area, you could proceed to grab one of the coldest post race chocolate milks ever! Take photos with the back drop and if you did the challenge, grab your Conquer the Capitol Challenge medal. From here you could go to the beer area to redeem your free Michelob Ultra, where there was also a massage / sports therapy tent. You could also just camp out on the Capitol grounds

Overall: The event is always well organized, I wish aid stations would be uniform, but other than that, I would definitely recommend this event. Madison is a fun place to hang out when the Hawks are not in town.

My Race: I just had a goal to finish, it was hot. I finished with a time near 2:24, not my best and not my worst. I didn't struggle, but I also didn't push too hard.

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(2018)
"Toasty 10k "
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
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The 2018 event took place on Saturday May 26. It was around 83 degrees, and didn't cool off much. Start time 8:10pm (after the 5k). Warnings were sent via email about the heat.

Registration: Participants were encouraged to register online before it closed a few days before the race, there was registration available at the expo. Included was a bib with your name, finisher's medal, timing chip, post race beer, short sleeve gender specific soft shirt, and free race pictures.There was also a phone app, Race Day Events.

*the race is part of the Conquer the Capital Challenge, which would earn you an additional medal if you ran the half marathon the next day

Expo/Packet pick up: The expo was held at the Monona Terrace convention center. Parking was on-site in a ramp for a fee, or at a metered spot on the street. With the proper information someone else could grab your packet. Expo closed 3 hours before the race. There was a place to check that the timing chip worked on the bib.

The expo is simple and small. However there were area running stores, race information, sign making stations and information for other local races. There were even water coolers provided with cups to keep hydrated.

Pre race: The race started and ended at the Capitol. The 10k start was after the 5k and the wheelchair start. The National Anthem was sung. There were no corrals inside the gated start. Port-o-potties set up, but near the finishers area, so a short walk away. Parking for the race was to be found in area ramps or on street (which was free after 6pm.)

Race/Course: The course was all on paved streets in Madison, highlighting some of the "sights"
-Elevation - Madison is not flat, and this race many climbs.
-Aid stations - A couple stops (can't remember if there were more than 2), 1 with Gatorade (it was offered after the water.). Always in paper cups
-Scenery - passed near Camp Randall, the Kohl Center, Observatory hill area overlooking the lake at sunset -gorgeous views
-Photography - FREE race pictures posted online quickly
-Course Markings - Each mile marked with a stand that said the mile. A clock and timing mat set up half way. Law enforcement was at all major intersections. As this is a night race, I feel some areas could use a little more lighting - like the bike path.
-Terrain -The course is on all paved surfaces. Some areas with potholes, some just recently asphalted - kept their heat from the day.
-Volunteers - everyone was cheering and shouting for you. They were at all the intersections.
-Spectators - The course was not lined with people, but there was a scattering of people cheering for their friends and family.

Finish/Post race: The finish was easy to spot, as the arch and timing mats were visible. The announcer was reading the names as participants crossed the finish line. Once across the line a volunteer placed a medal around your neck, and then another handed you a bottle of water. There was pizza slices, followed by the coldest chocolate mile. The actual post race party was on the otherside of the Capitol where you could redeem the ticket on your bib for a free beer.

Overall: This is great option for a night race, you can grab your bib by 5pm and then check out Madison before the 8pm start. It is hard to decided what to eat when. It's priced similarly to other area 10ks and is organized well. I just wish they had something other than pizza post race, even just a banana.

My Race: I was in town for the Conquer the Capital challenge. I had a half marathon the next day, so I was running to finish. I did have a decent time near 1:02 despite the warm temps. I don't mind some hills, and this race has them, so just be prepared to run them. The start also seemed a tad crowded, but I guess you will have that with a successful race. I noticed the course was altered a little around Camp Randall, which isn't bad, just different. Also I think as hot as it was and with the additional attention on the heat, there could have been more Gatorade on the course and even some at the finish.

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(2018)
"Stampede through West Branch"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
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The 2018 event took place on Saturday May 5 at 9:00 am. The weather was sunny and would warm up into the 70's. The 5k was run as the same time as the 10k.

Registration: You could register online through a certain date, and were guaranteed a shirt by a certain date. Paper registration forms were available too, as well on race day for only $30, no shirt guaranteed. Included with registration; bib, timing chip and a cotton unisex t-shirt if registered by deadline.

Expo/ Packet pickup: There was no true expo, but the local farmers market was set up. Race day packet pickup.

Pre-race: Parking was nearby, but the race started in front of the school and sections of the parking lot were blocked off. Restrooms were available inside the school. Packet pickup and registration were still open. Announcements over a loud speaker. A bouncy house was set up for kids. No National Anthem.

Race/Course:
-Spectators: mostly included the volunteers at the intersections and family members
-Volunteers: at each intersection, including law enforcement
-Aid Stations: one water stop at each turnaround, Styrofoam cups
-Terrain: paved surfaces, nature trail - had to watch footing, but nothing major
-Scenery: nothing exciting to see, it's in a small town
-Elevation: mostly flat except the 2 hills near the finish, which are steep
-Course markings: Each mile marked

Finish/Post Race: The timing mats were out for the finish with cones on either side. A volunteer snagged the chip from your shoe. There were a variety of baked goods as well as bananas, and bottled water..

After the kids races, awards were given. Prizes included a plant from the FFA and $5 market dollars to the farmers market vendors.

Overall: This is always a nice community/school event. Great price, fair course, race distance for all abilities.

My race: I was also participating in the market as a vendor as wasn't even sure if I would be able to run, however, thanks to the help of my fellow vendors, I registered on race day. I didn't have any plans going into the run. I have run this event many times and was really familiar with the course, I knew the 2 hills at the end were going to be tough. As I tried to push the pace on the flat trail section, a returning runner mentioned I was the first female, so from then on, I wanted to push it. There was another woman hot on my tail, but I got her on those last hills and came in as first female in the 10k!! WAHOO!!

I do feel the race lacked a little in promotion, it would have been nice to see more people out on the course. Ok, I probably wouldn't have won, but there are a lot of people that run in the area and this is a nice small town event. Maybe the date change also kept people away. Hope to see you all next year, I have a title to defend!

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(2018)
"DAM! It's Over"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
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This was the last Dam to Dam. The race went back to the 20k distance. A race management company bought the race and will move ahead under a different race name for the future.

The 2018 event was held on June 2. It was scheduled to start at 7 AM. (it was delayed a half hour) It was a downpour at the start, and the sun came out for a 70 degree finish.

Registration: Available online starting in March for only $39. This sold out within the first few hours it was open and they opened it up to 1000 more entries. Included with registration was a gender specific Brooks tech tee, Brooks socks, expo food / beer, post race beer, shuttle to the start and timing chip.
*Bib transfer was available for this using Facebook.

Expo/Packet pick up: This wasn't a big expo, but more like a pre race packet pick up party. There was free parking in a lot north of the Iowa Events Center, or you could pay to park on the street. There was one store with running gear to purchase. There was a meet and greet with former race directors. Posters to grab and giveaways.

Once you had your bib number, you just went to grab your bib, no ID required and they gave you a choice of sock colors. Then you could go pick up your t-shirt, where you had a choice of neon yellow, blue or black. Plastic bags were offered, but nothing was pre-packed.

There was a buffet of food set up inside the Events Center. This was not at any additional charge. There was cupcakes, cake, Powerade, soda, chips, candy, nuts, snack mix, sandwiches and more. Tables were set up to sit and eat. Outside there was live music and Coors Light and Smirnoff Ice, again at no charge.

Pre race: The race is point to point, and there is no parking at the start, so you must get to one of 3 bus shuttle locations, from 5:00 AM to 5:45 AM. Each location is different and provides their own logistical nightmare. The downtown shuttle location had traffic backed up on the major roads causing a delay. There was a mall location, and on the FB page it seemed there were no buses at the scheduled time.

There was a long line of buses at the starting location. Port-o-potties were available. A pre-race email said no bags on the bus, which makes me assume there was no gear check. There were no announcements until 7:23 AM, when they told us the start was being delayed a half and hour, and we would start in 7 minutes. I heard no National Anthem.

*This year the weather was crap at the start. There was a big storm passing through with lightning, heavy rain and wind. I sat on our bus for the worst of it. However, when I walked to the suggested pace sign in the starting area, it was a downpour. There is no place to take shelter on top of the dam, so we all just got wet. Once I was out of the bus I didn't see any lightning strikes, so I believe the half hour delay in the start was due to a busing issue, but I can't confirm.

Race/Course: The course is a point to point, from the Saylorville Dam to the Dam in Downtown Des Moines.
-Terrain: all paved, on country roads and city streets
-Elevation: Overall the course is down hill, but there are a few climbs along the way including one near mile 7.
-Aid stations: The email said there would be water along the way, but Powerade was also on course. There were many stops and a giant flag that said water near each one, but not all stops had the same order of liquids, and not all liquids were in the same cups each time. No food or Gu. Many stops had people in costume.
-Scenery: Iowa open roads to Iowa big city... nothing super exciting
-Photographers: They were on the course, I am assuming they will be available for sale in the future
-Course markers: each mile was marked with a giant flag, course easy to navigate
-Volunteers: intersections with marshals or police, very upbeat at aid stations. Also there were so many helping the buses unload at the start in the pouring rain.
-Spectators: There were a great spattering of them along the course with lots of fun signs

Finish/Post race: The finish line was at Cowles Commons in downtown Des Moines. Once you crossed the finisher mat it was a little chaotic. When I finished it was tough to get to a medal, people were everywhere. Finishers hanging immediately after the finish mat waiting for loved ones. Once through this there was option for a cup of water and a bottle of Powerade. Then a sign marked to exit. This was even more confusing as there were sooo many people and things were scattered about. Way over to one side was the food, in the back was the beer, and off to the other direction a place to take photos.

I went to the food area, which was a little hectic. There were no lines or process set up. There were a ton of options and I did not have enough hands to carry it all. Ice cream, chocolate milk, kettle corn, cookies, bananas, oranges, apples, pulled pork sandwiches, and dumplings. Then with your bib you could get a keg Coors light or a Smirnoff Ice, which they were not checking race bibs or taking tickets or any money. The other part about these things is that non runners were able to get these things too.

Overall: This has been quite a tradition in Des Moines, the race was even a half marathon for a couple of years. It's sad that it will be transitioning to something else. The $39 price was a steal for all the food and race amenities you received. However, with so many other events that do race day logistics a little bit better, maybe he change is what the race needs.

My Race: I didn't have a time goal or anything specific in mind. I was just running it as I knew it was my last chance to ever run it. The rain didn't bother me, I have run in all weather conditions and knew my gear would make it through. I made it to the finish in 2:17 as I ran a bit out of the way to a port-o-potty.

As an Iowa tradition this is an event to run at least once, but now that it's gone, I wish for the best in the future.

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