Race Recap: The Des Moines Marathon

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On Sunday, October 18, 2015, Trevor and I ran the the IMT Des Moines Marathon and Half Marathon in the great state of Iowa.

This was the 31st state for me in my 50 state marathon goal. The race offers multiple events over two days, friendly volunteers, a well-supported course, and AWESOME post race food.

Race Recap: The Des Moines Marathon

Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines

Iowa State Capitol Building in Des Moines

We had a 9 hour drive from our home to Des Moines and decided to do it in one day so that our kids wouldn’t have to miss more school. It was an early morning as we left at 5:30am and traveled most of the day.

The race featured a 5k on Saturday which you could run in conjunction with the half or full marathon the next day for an extra medal and swag. They also had a kids run on Saturday morning. Another interesting option they brought back for the second year was the I-35 Challenge. This sold out with 400 participants. It involved running the Kansas City Marathon on Saturday and the Des Moines Marathon on Sunday.

The Race Expo

At the expo hanging out with some amazing people!

At the expo hanging out with some amazing people!

The race expo was held at the Iowa Events Center. Finding a parking spot was relatively easy and there was a decent walk to find the race expo area which was held in a large room. I was actually surprised that there weren’t many people there. I guess they must have taken advantage of the Friday packet pick up or were coming later.

There was a decent amount of vendors. Packet pick up was easy and we received a nice long sleeve quarter zip tech shirt. We actually saw several MTA folks at the expo and got a quick picture (see above) and visited with them. Then we headed to the Drury Hotel where we were staying in West Des Moines.

Featured at the expo was Kathrine Switzer and she also spoke at the pasta dinner on Saturday night. Filmmaker Jon Dunham who did “Spirit of the Marathon” and “Spirit of the Marathon 2” was also there and they showed both films at the expo. Altra running also had a display and information on running form with shoe giveaways.

MTA Meet Up

MTA Meet up at the Drury Hotel

MTA Meet up at the Drury Hotel

The MTA meet up was held in the dining room area of the Drury Hotel and we had nine people attend. It was awesome to meet Mark, Cari, and Glen from IA, Jeremiah from MN, Dan & Christine from MO, Kristi from ND, and Lee & Colleen from OH. After that it was all about getting settled into our room, getting race gear ready for the next morning and getting as much sleep as possible.

Race Morning

We woke up at 6am and left the hotel at 6:50. A wife of one of our MTA members, Christine, was generous enough to watch our boys during the race. I was very nervous about getting to the start in time as Trevor seemed rather vague on directions. We did arrive around 7:30am and Trevor dropped me off to find parking.

It was a cool and clear morning with temperatures in the low 40’s. The race offered baggage check but I didn’t take advantage of this because I knew Trevor would be finished before me and waiting. There were long lines for port-a pots but I managed to use one and then got into the race corrals positioned just in front of the 4:00 hour pace group.

The Course

The race offered pacers for the half marathon with times from 1:30-2:30 and for the full from 3:05-5:25. It was a very scenic course which went through downtown city streets and through beautiful neighborhoods and parks.

We ran through the East Village, Court Avenue District, Drake University and Gray’s Lake Park. The half marathoners split off after mile 2 and the race rejoined for last 10 miles. It was hilly from miles 3-9 and at a particularly challenging hill at mile 5 the “Rocky” theme song was playing.

As we were running through a downtown residential section one lady yelled out window to be quiet as her grandmother was sleeping which was a weird experience. All in all, it was beautiful with the fall colors on the trees, great organization and there were a decent amount of spectators.

Aid Stations
There were a plentiful amount of aid stations that featured water and sports drink. Some of them were also stocked with gels, gummy candy, fruit, tissues and petroleum ointment. They also had a large amount of on course entertainment (approximately 45 spots) which was nice. A couple aid stations really went all out with costumes and high energy levels.


I fueled with Generation Ucan (like always!) and had steady energy throughout the race.

Finish/Post Race

I wasn’t sure how I would feel during the race since it was just two weeks after my first 50 mile race. But I felt good through mile 16 and probably kept my pace a bit fast. I actually ran with Lee and Kristi for 2 miles until they went on which was fun. Then my hamstrings started getting cranky around mile 16 so I interspersed some walk breaks through mile 22. At that point I realized I could finish sub-4:00 if I got my rear in gear and decided to push through the discomfort. I finished my 39th marathon in 3:59:41.

They announced your name as you crossed the finish lines and there were good crowds in that area. The medal was very nice and they were giving out space blankets and amazing finish line food including: water, chocolate milk, sports drink, cookies, sandwiches, apples, bananas, peanut butter, chips and queso, bbq sand, pizza, beer, ice cream, and yogurt. They also had free massages by university students and there was a post-race party that continued until 5pm.

Trevor and the boys met me post race and we walked back to the parking area before driving to the Drury Hotel for a quick shower before having a meal and hitting the road to continue our journey.

Here are some interesting stats from the race:

  • Marathon: 1,676
  • Half Marathon: 5,380
  • Marathon Relay: 88 teams
  • 5K Combo: 372
  • Average Age: 37
  • Oldest: 82
  • Gender: 59% female
  • States represented: all 50 including the District of Columbia
  • Countries represented: 9

photo credit: Phil Roeder, Flickr Creative Commons

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 2.37.14 PMRoo Sport pouch for carrying your cell phone on the run. Trevor just got one of these to carry his iPhone during the Marine Corp Marathon. It folds over the waist line of your running shorts and stays secure using two powerful magnets.

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Start a career as a personal trainer.

How to stay healthy on the road. Our tips for reducing soreness and eating healthy while traveling to races.

2 Responses to Race Recap: The Des Moines Marathon

  1. Anja November 3, 2015 at 5:25 am #

    Hi! I see you have Minnesota left for your states. How about Grandma’s in Duluth? Beautiful city, nice kid place, small town, run along Lake Superior…. And it’s Grandma’s 40th! It’ll be my third Grandma’s this coming June. It’s become a family tradition for us. My sister in law and niece have even been inspired to have it be their first. My niece doesn’t like to sweat. 😆 But that shouldn’t be too much of a problem in June in Minnesota! 😀

    • Trevor Spencer November 3, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

      Funny you should say that. We were just talking today about doing Grandma’s next year. Thanks for the recommendation!

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