Not everyone fondly recalls the elementary school mile run, but the organizers of the new Downtown Iowa City Race Series do.
They say, those memories are part of the inspiration for the race series, which includes three races of unconventional distances held three weeks apart this fall. The first on Sept. 15 is a 3K. The last is a 2K on Oct. 27.
The middle race on Oct. 6 is the Presidential Mile, named, of course, for the one mile many elementary students run at the end of the school year as part of The President’s Challenge Physical Fitness Test.
“There are not many races you could go out and run just a mile,” said Joe Hughes, Race Director for the Downtown Running Series. “These races bring you back to your youth so you can see what type of shape you are in. If you have not been training, it’s okay because it’s only a mile.”
- Downtown Iowa City Race Series
- Marketplace Stampede 3K, 3:33 p.m. Sept. 15 — Presidential Mile, 3:33 p.m. Oct. 6 — Iowa Avenue 2K, 3:33 p.m. Oct. 27
- Downtown Iowa City
- Cost: $45 for all three races through Sept. 13; $15 for individual races
Hughes was also inspired by a similar running race series including the Pearl Street Mile through downtown Boulder, where he lived before moving to Eastern Iowa.
The routes through Iowa City were designed to allow everyone from children to masters runners, to wheelchair participants and elites, to have a chance to run a shorter distance, Hughes says. A committee of 13, including representatives from local running stores — Running Wild and Active Endeavors — has assisted Hughes throughout the process of bringing not one, but three, races to Iowa City.
“The of nature of business is competitive, but it has been great to pool together our resources with the other business and create one big race series that will be a success for all of downtown,” said Phil Young, the Co-Manager of Running Wild.
The Marketplace Stampede 3k on Sept. 15, will go through the Brown Historic District, along Iowa Avenue and ending at the city’s inaugural Soul Fest at the Pedestrian Mall.
The Presidential Mile will go down Clinton Street from downtown to University of Iowa President Sally Mason’s home.
The third race, held the weekend prior to Halloween, will encourage runners to don a costume.
Youth ages 12 and under will run for free in the Iowa City race series. Top participants overall and in each age category will compete for over $2,000 in gift certificates to downtown shops and restaurants. Awards will go to series champions based on best cumulative times for all three races. Every race will be followed by a short sprint for children, ages 5 and under.
“The Boulder series was a tremendously popular event – everyone from the community comes downtown,” said Hughes, who lived in Boulder for eight years before returning to Iowa in 2011. “Elite racers, families, students, they all run because they get to run shorter, quicker races and then stick around downtown for food.”
He’s hoping for the same community support for the Iowa City series.
“An event like this helps bridge the gap between students and Iowa City to merge and be an even bigger community,” Running Wild’s Young said.
Running, once a solitary pursuit, has now evolved into a social event in Eastern Iowa.
“What I enjoy most about running is the community aspect of it,” says Phil Young, co-manager of Running Wild. “Running has been a social outlet for me, most of my friends are runners. In this community, you find friends who can push you to new goals, whether it’s competition with yourself or amongst others.”
In Iowa City, Running Wild helped jump-start trail runs on Mondays, track groups on Wednesdays and Friday mornings and a Sunday morning long run. Training runs usually follow routes used in upcoming races.
In Cedar Rapids, Running Wild is behind group runs on Tuesdays at Washington High School and longer group run on Saturdays.
Running Wild in Iowa City recently started Tavern Tuesdays, which ends at Mickey’s Irish Pub & Grill in downtown Iowa City.
- Tavern Tuesday Group Run
- 6 pm Tuesdays
- 121 East Washington St., Iowa City
- More info: Facebook.com/runningwildic
Of the 15 runners who came to run on a recent Tuesday, some chose shorter routes — 1 mile or a 2K or 3K — similar to those that will be used in the Downtown Race Series starting Sept. 15. Others followed a 5K, 10K or half marathon route that will be used by Iowa City’s Run for the Schools in October.
“Usually, there is always someone to run with,” says Young. “Whether you end up in the middle or the back, people will realize it’s just fun to be part of it all.”