116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The Fifth Season Races have changed a lot the past 37 years, just like road racing itself.
The latter is the opinion of two men who not only are co-directors of the annual Fourth of July road race through southeast Cedar Rapids, but owners of two running stores in the corridor.
Jim Dywer, who runs Iowa Running Company in Cedar Rapids with Clifton Smith, and Brian Tharp, owner of We Run in Cedar Rapids and North Liberty with his wife Kris, have seen an uptick in people wanting to get outdoors and wanting to move since COVID-19 entered our lives.
But being around a lot of people — like in a road race that can attract 2,000 or more runners and walkers — remains an issue.
Throw in the uncertainty surrounding some big events and, in the case of the Fifth Season Races, the weather and a lot of people are taking a wait-and-see approach.
“It’s probably a combination of all of it,” Tharp said about the response to the Cedar Rapids road race and other events around the country. “I think people are being a little bit more patient.”
Dwyer said numbers are looking OK for Monday’s races, the 37th in this event’s history, although the 2020 race was canceled by COVID. The Fifth Season Races — aka the Fifth Season 8K — also include a 5K and, this year, the return of two youth runs, a half-mile fun run and a 1-mile race.
The 8K kicks things off at 7:30 a.m., followed by the start of the 5K (7:45 a.m.). The children’s races are at 9:15 and 9:30.
Late last week, about 600 runners and walkers had signed up for the races. But the two expect “a slight bump” from last year’s total of 1,211 finishers., including 576 in the 8K.
“A lot of people are waiting until a few days ahead,” Dwyer said.
Packet pickup is Sunday, like last year a drive-through event at the Cedar Rapids City Services building.
“It’s super slick,” Dwyer said, adding he expects a lot of folks to sign up on Sunday.
“It’s very efficient,” Tharp said.
There is no race-day registration.
At one time, the “Fifth Season 8K” attracted top runners from around the Midwest and country, as well as many foreign runners who roamed U.S. road races looking for big paydays.
The Fifth Season Races still pays out more than $3,000 in cash prizes, including $599 to winners (male and female) and $350 to runners-up.
“Road races are changing ... the landscape is changing,” Dwyer said. “You kind of try to adapt.”
Dwyer said many elite runners who were planning on stopping in Cedar Rapids on Monday are having visa issues, but “we’ll still have a few.
“This race will always try to get some elite runners to come,” he said. “It’s a little bit of that, but a lot more local-centric, family-friendly.
“I know a lot of people, the whole family is coming to race.”
Still, Dwyer and Tharp want to see this race thrive.
“I’m never satisfied,” Dwyer said. “You’d love to see 1,500 to 2,000. But I’ll be satisfied if all the participants have a good time.”
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What: Fifth Season Races
Where: Downtown Cedar Rapids (start/finish line at Cedar Rapids Museum of Art)
Courses: Both are out-and-back routes.
When: Monday, 7:30 a.m.
Events: 8K, 5K, half-mile and mile youth runs
Prize money: First place, $599; Second, $350; Third, $250; Fourth, $150; Fifth, $100; Sixth, $75; Seventh, $50. There also is $100 prize to the fastest male and fastest female in the Corridor Running club.