Thursday, July 22, 2010

University of Okoboji Marathon ~ Race Ratings (#36)

Tag line: "Race the Tornado!!!"

Okoboji, IA ~ Pike's Point State Park
Year Running: 11th?
Registration Fee: $55 ($60 late) early
Charity Race? No
Runners:  118 Completed,  37 Females
Available Races: Marathon, Half Marathon, Triathlon, and 10K
Average Finish Time: 4:41:30
BQ %: 9.3%

Overall Race Ratings: 3.0/5.0

Average Calculated Rating: 3.1/5.0
~ This small summer race needs a little work, especially for the potential heat. With no road closures, no GU, and no food at all, I'm not sure what they spent out $$ on. Hopefully we'll see some improvements in the future, because there aren't many Iowa marathons out there and this one has pretty good potential given that the area the race is held is pretty fun/nice.

Race Director: Let's play race director...
~  For such a long-standing race, I'm a little surprised at some of the disorganization. Let's start from the beginning to the end. The start area has limited parking and once you leave your cars there, you're without money for the end of the race. The first thing I would do is have the runners park at the finish and shuttle them to the start. This would also alleviate the problem with the shuttles stopping and runners still out on the course.

Second, SOME of these roads need to be blocked at least on one side. Cars were speeding through and swerving in and out of runners. Also, there needs to be some sort of GU or SOME kind of supplement on the course. Port-a-johns-- I would put in 1 every or every other mile. At least point signs toward public bathrooms so we can find them! Finally-- FOOD! We payed $55 to be in the race and I'm not exactly sure what they used that money for. There needs to be something at the end for the runners, esp with the heat.

Aside from that, they should be doing a better job at playing up the vacation advantages of going. This race is held around a really fun lake with lots to do and the whole weekend has a "4th of July-Esque" feel about it. To get more people to race or spectators to come, they should provide more information on the area and how it could be a fun family weekend.. you know, once you actually GET to the area.

Event Organization: 1.8/5.0 (now broken into 2 parts, see below as well) As far as "event organization" we'll include things like Host hotel, website use, ease of travel to the event and to the actual race, etc.
Distance from Airport to Expo/Race: ~ 70 to 90 miles
Rental Car Required: Absolutely! There aren't any close airports to this race.
~ The website is a little all over the place-- it's mostly a store website with small page on the races. It doesn't provide too much information, so we relied on marathonguide info/comments. This race itself isn't too hard to get to but once you finish you'll need to take a shuttle back to the start, which is 5 miles away, but they take the long way, running the course backward. Also, the finishers awards-- they only give 1st place overall (although a pretty cool engraved clock) and they give A/G award, but they're the exact same medals as the finishers medals with "1st Place Women"-- they don't even write down that it's an age group. Kind of unusual.

The Good? When you finish, you're at one of the lakes and there is a beach area to take off your shoes and wade into the water. That's pretty nice. They city was also putting on a free concert at Arnold's Park that night-- not sure if that happens every year, but the race finish is at a pretty central location for anything fun you would like to do post-race.

Race Organization: 1.0/5.0
Hydration Color/Type: Red Powerade
Gel Type/Flavors/Availability:  None!
~ There are very few port-a-johns on the course and no gels at all. There were plenty of water stops with pretty reliable volunteers. There is no food at the end of the race, except the local places you can purchase something from-- that is, if you've carried money with you. Since you're nowhere near your car (parked at the start) you're going to have a hard time getting something to eat.

Aside from that, I was a little agitated at how they handled the finish area. The Triathlon was short and so pretty quick, as was the half marathon and 10K, so the marathoners were some of the last to finish. After they did the awards (around 5:30 clock time) they completely closed down the finish and there were still quite a few marathoners left on the course! No cut-off times were advertised on their website.
~Post Race Food: .None

Course: 3.4/5.0
~MarathonGuide Rating
Garmin Distance: 26.3!
~ The course starts with about 5-6 miles of serious rolling hills, then goes out to the highway on rail trails, and comes back to repeat the first loop of hills. The loop itself is pretty well shaded, but the majority of the course is pretty open in the hot sun.
Spectators: 4.1/5.0
~ There isn't a huge number of spectators, but the ones that are there are pretty excited for the race. MB had a spectator take her into her house to use the bathroom when there were none around.

Pace Group: /5.0
~ NA

Runner/Corrals: 4.2/5.0
~ No corrals needed. Runners were all very nice and supportive-- I think we had to be to get through the heat wave we were all facing. There was a guy running that was a Iowa fan and tried to start a fight with me cause I'm a Buckeye fan. Silly man... nobody cares about the hawks! Not even on the radar, buddy! Since it's a small race we were easily able to find the few marathon maniacs there and cheer each other on!

Expo: NA/5.0
~ The packet pick-up is held at the affiliated "University of Okoboji" store that carries all sort of University clothing but not really anything running related. I wasn't able to make it (MB picked up my packet) so I'm not going to rate it.

Swag: 4.2/5.0
~T-Shirts: The shirts are one of my favorites. They're great quality and they have big colorful writing with the University of Okoboji crest screened on. The fun part was that all the races had the same shirt, but it had a big "MARATHON" written on the back or "10K" or "TRIATHLON"-- whatever race you were doing. Lauren is gonna kill me, but I don't have a picture of the shirt and I'll have to wait until its out of the wash, then I'll post it, promise!!! 4.9
~Medals: The medals were pretty standard circle medal with the marathon name and the crest. 3.6
~ Goodie Bag: Nothing crazy extra given at the races

Results: Stephanie
Chip Time: 3:54:54
Place: Overall- 21/118, Gender- 3/37, A/G (20-29)- 1/11


  1. hahahahaha! I scrolled down to see if you had a picture before I started reading the rest of the post! But I am glad you took my suggestion into consideration :)

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