DES MOINES, Iowa, May 14, 2018 -- There were nighttime storms and what probably seemed to most people to be chilly weather on Saturday in central Iowa. But actually, running conditions were almost ideal for the 6th annual "Market to Market Relay Iowa," which uses the Raccoon River Valley Trail for about 60 of its 75-mile race course from Jefferson to downtown Des Moines.
And that was reflected in the performances of most of the 3,000 runners from 20 states who showed up to participate on 350 teams.
"Six Pack and a Pound Fest," a bunch of college buddies who a decade or so ago were distance runners on the University of South Dakota track & cross country teams," repeated as champions of the relay's "open" category. They covered the 75-mile course from Jefferson's courthouse square in Jefferson to the East Village in downtown Des Moines in 7 hours, three minutes and 43.7 seconds, and had a 50-minute lead at the finish on the runners-up from "Kyle's Bikes" in the Des Moines area.
Amazingly, the South Dakotans averaged 5 minutes and 34 seconds per mile for the full 75 miles -- about 10 seconds per mile faster than they ran in winning a year ago.
"They are a really good team," said Ben Cohoon, of Lincoln, Neb., co-founder of the Market to Market Relays, which sponsor similar events in Ohio on Labor Day weekend and in Nebraska in October. "I am sure some of those guys are throwing down miles under 5 minutes."
Team members were Brant Haase, Andrew Duba, Jeff Mettler Taylor Huseman, Matt Hoyt, Nick Fear, and Taylor Chapman -- with an age range of 25 to 40.
"Overall, it was a very good day," said Haase, who is in pharmacy school at USD. "We were never caught in rain or lightening, and the cooler temps were nice for running. We really enjoy the Raccoon River Valley Trail because it's flat, scenic, and a lot of areas are tree covered. We were a little surprised that we were as fast as we were, because a lot of us were a little skeptical on our fitness coming in. Out of the 18 legs, I think we only had two that were over a 6 minute pace and had one that was under a 5 minute pace. It was another fun day of racing."
After the thunderstorms in the wee hours Saturday, runners were leaving Jefferson in temperatures that started in the upper 40s with a favorable wind from the northeast. It climbed into the low 60s by late afternoon.
"In general, the temperatures were perfect for an all-day running adventure," said Cohoon. "We were very blessed on the weather."
Storms also swept through Dallas County and the Des Moines area in the early hours, and a few trees were down on the RRVT and on city streets where the relay was routed.
"Dallas County Conservation's staff got the trees off the trail right before the first team came through," Cohoon said. "The conservatin boards are great to work with, and really prep the trail so it looks its best and is ready for the run." He said city workers in the metro area were also quick to clear the relay route of tree debris before the runners arrived.
Other notable winners:
--In the "women's" category, the "Women Run Nebraska" team, who come from several communities in that state, won for a fifth consecutive year, in time of 8 hours, 52 minutes and 47.8 seconds.
--In the "masters" category, "H & B All-Stars," of the Des Moines area, also won a fifth straight title, in 7 hours, 24 minutes and 19.6 seconds.
--In the "women's masters" category, Relay Iowa's most consistent winners "Run Like Hell," from the Des Moines area, won their sixth straight in 10 hours, 13 minutes and 56.07 seconds. Team members are Kate Maurer, Dana Kramer, Ellen Middleswart, Dawn Hayes, Kristy Cain, Julie Schneider, Sheila Maddox, and Linda Crowley. Their age range is 45 to 60.
--In the "corporate" category, "The Fat and Furious" won in 8 hours, 7 minutes and 5.5 seconds.
--The runners voted that "best team costumes" were those worn by team "We Ran Away and Joined the Circus," and voted that their "favorite team name" was the "Thong Distance Runners."
The Market to Market Relays, and some other running competitions, are owned and operated by Pink Gorilla Events, which is based in Lincoln, Neb.
Cohoon said that their 7th annual Market to Market Relay Iowa is already confirmed and scheduled for May 11 next year, using the same route as they've used the first six years -- meaning most of the Raccoon River Valley Trail.
"We already have many of the teams that ran this past weekend registered for 2019," he added.
You can find out more details on the relays' website https://www.markettomarketrelay.com/.