Local pros look forward to Fifth Season 8K in Cedar Rapids

Fourth of July race especially interests runners with Iowa ties

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CEDAR RAPIDS — The 31st annual Fifth Season 8k draws pros from around the country — 30 states were represented last year — but it also draws heavily from the Midwest.

Professional athletes like Brogan Austin of Wisconsin, and Nick Holmes of Illinois, will descend on Cedar Rapids for the annual event.

The Fifth season race, however, will be a homecoming of sorts for Holmes, a former University of Iowa cross country and track runner.

Holmes, who graduated in 2012, hung around the area after graduation. He managed Running Wild and continued to train and race before moving to the Chicago suburbs in September and taking a post with the Naperville running company. He’s never run the Fifth Season, but said he’s excited for the Fourth of July event.

“I know a lot of people there, it’s like I have family there,” Holmes, who raced in the marathon Olympic Trials in February, said. “I’m excited about the distance, I think 8k is a good distance.”

A typical day does not exist for Holmes. If he cannot run in the morning, he often works 10 a.m. to noon, works out, and then works again from 3 to 8 p.m.

The owners of the shop are very supportive, he said, helping him with gear and travel, and he expected to arrive in Cedar Rapids on Sunday.

Coordinating a race with professionals is an understated role. The issues of prize money, lodging, and transportation are all things the organizer must take into account.

“All the logistics, having to organize all the pros, their lodging their travel, and how to determine a prize purse, that’s got to be one of the most challenging things for a race director,” Neil Segel, president of NES Elite Consulting, the company that represents Brogan Austin said. Race expenses and profits or charity donations all go into the amount determined for a prize purse.

As for getting professional athletes to the race, Segel said they can be invited or seek out the race themselves.

The key to the longevity of the Fifth Season Race, Race Director Colin Flynn said, has been good sponsorship and appearances by high level athletes. Of course, the local support from the Corridor Running Club and others helps as well.

Now, Holmes is the next in line of professional athletes to compete in the 8k race. He plans to keep running as long as he can, with the goal of making a national team.

“I think it’s more of a competitive thing for me, seeing how far you can go and how far you can push your limits,” Holmes said. “At the end of the day, you have to have goals for yourself and want to do that ... I would love to make a world team or a USA team.

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