Sports

Fifth Season Races unite Eastern Iowa running community

Annual 8K, 5K bring together elite, casual runners

CEDAR RAPIDS — As Mike Glavan, 56, finished the Fifth Season Health Solutions 8K on Thursday morning at Greene Square Park, it had some extra significance for him. He helped build the park after moving from Illinois in 1997.

Now he gets to see that park host most of the Eastern Iowa running community. The park served as the start and finish point for the Health Solutions 8K and other Fifth Season races Thursday morning, resulting in what felt like a family reunion for the running community.

Glavan said the high energy and community feel keep him coming back.

“It’s all these folks down here and the energy you get from a run like this,” Glovan said. “Just seeing old people, young people, physically fit people, folks who are pushing themselves a little bit. It’s great motivation to see all these people out here.”

On the course

Jeff Nietert, who won the men’s grandmaster division, said it helps to have “people you know cheering for you” on the course.

“When you do a turnaround on this type of course, you have people cheering for you, which is really awesome,” Nietert said. “You see them (and they say), ‘Hey, how are you doing? Good job. Way to go, Aimee. Way to go, Jeff.’ That really propels you.”

Elite runners, including the Kenyan runners from Duma Running, also add to the excitement.

“You see them at the turnaround, so that’s one of my favorite parts of the race,” said Aimee Jones, the women’s master division winner.

“As I’m at mile 2, I see the Kenyans zooming by us,” said Glavan, who finished third in the 55-59 age group. “I think they’re already on the airplane heading home right about now.”

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That energy has helped keep some of the top Iowa runners competing in Iowa. Brogan Austin, a former Drake University runner and resident of Boone, finished second in the 8K. It was his fourth consecutive year competing in the Health Solutions 8K.

“I love doing these local races,” Austin said. “It always happens to work out with my training. ... It makes the running all the more enjoyable when you can do it with other people.”

Austin said the July heat and other challenges add to the bond between runners.

“There’s a little camaraderie with the suffer of the sport,” Austin said. “Everyone’s out there suffering. We’re just running different paces. ... We were complaining about heat and how much we were hurting, but at the end of the day, we got a good workout in.”

Some of those people who aren’t running at the fastest paces are encouraging for Glavan, as well.

“They’re no Kenyan, but they’re good runners as well,” Glavan said.

In the meantime, Austin is right at home on July 4 in year No. 4.

“It’s a fun way to start the day, and I wouldn’t start it any other way.”

l Comments: john.steppe@thegazette.com

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