Fifth Seasons Races host successful July Fourth competitions

Annual road races host 8K, 5K and children's races in Cedar Rapids

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Every year, the Fifth Seasons Races host thousands of runners from all over the country in downtown Cedar Rapids, kicking off the corridor’s Independence Day celebrations.

Tuesday was no different.

The Corridor Running Club put on the 32nd annual road races Tuesday morning, playing host to nearly 2,000 runners who competed in the 8-kilometer or 5-kilometer races down 3rd Ave. in Cedar Rapids.

“I think things went very well today,” Hannah Rigler, one of the race coordinators, said. “It’s kind of a hot and muggy day as would be expected in the beginning of July, but organizationally I think things went well. I think runners came out with their families and had a great time.”

The morning got started with the famous 8K race, the longest consecutively held race of that distance in the country.

Kurui Evans and Tiidrek Nurme, both professional runners from Kenya and Estonia, respectively, took first and second place in the race. Zach Baker of Iowa City was the first resident from Eastern Iowa to finish the race. Baker took seventh place with a time of 24:48, just 1:06 behind the leader.

Cynthia Jerop from Kenya was the first female to cross the finish line with a time of 27:19. Janet Mundell of Iowa City was the first local female to cross the finish line, taking fifth place with a time of 29:00.

And while many racers are from Eastern Iowa or the Midwest, Rigler said there are many who have never even set foot in Iowa before.

Nurme — an Olympic runner from Estonia — was one of those people.

“I was kind of surprised, because the name already, ‘Cedar Rapids,’ it sounds very weird for me,” Nurme. “I thought, ‘No way, this place doesn’t really exist.’ Then I found on the map, and yes there is a Cedar Rapids. I didn’t care about the name, I just thought about the race and now I see it’s a place for the cornfields.”

The 5K race was won by 17-year-old Max Laue of Cedar Rapids, who finished with a time of 17:45. 10-year-old Zoey Lenth of Parker, Colo., was the first female to cross the finish line with a time of 19:45.

And while there were many kids, like Laue and Lenth, who ran in either the 8K or 5K, there were also three small races for children under 12. Those three races, while just a few blocks each, were a way for parents to really get their kids involved in a fun and unique way, Rigler said.

“There are parents running with their kids and wanting to encourage them along the way,” Rigler said. “I think that those skills you teach children in terms of enduring, perseverance, and to kind of do that in a community with other children and families and the supportive environment is really crucial to child development.”

So while a lot of the focus from Tuesday’s races will be on the elite runners who led the pack, Rigler said there is a lot more to the races than that.

It’s the accumulation of all the races, with runners of all ages and ability levels coming together to celebrate the Fourth of July, that truly makes the Cedar Rapids tradition special.

“I love that this race has the elites, the Couch-to-5K, the families, the dedicated runners who are going to finish somewhere in the middle of the pack,” Rigler said. “I love that this race encompasses all of those aspects of it.”

l Comments: ryan.young@thegazette.com

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