Recreation

Fifth Season Races attract large participation numbers despite midweek race date

As many as 1,800 runners expected for annual Independence Day tradition in downtown Cedar Rapids

Chris Gannon (center with arms raised) of Johnston raises his arms at the start of the Health Solutions 5K Race during the 30th annual Fifth Season Races in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, July 4, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Chris Gannon (center with arms raised) of Johnston raises his arms at the start of the Health Solutions 5K Race during the 30th annual Fifth Season Races in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, July 4, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The calendar presented some challenges to the directors of the Fifth Seasons Races.

With Independence Day falling on a Wednesday this year, attracting elite out-of-area runners to the 33rd installment of the downtown Cedar Rapids event would come without the luxury of a long weekend.

Yearlong efforts by event organizer Corridor Running Club appear to have paid off. The longstanding exemplary reputation of the event, combined with an attractive course and a promising weather forecast have produced a participation number that could reach 1,800 entrants, the largest number for a Wednesday in the history of the event.

“The challenge is ‘Will people travel?,’” Corridor Running Club President Mark Powers said. “We depend on people coming in from the outside. Obviously, there is a very local flavor to it but you’ve still got travel involved. … I’m pleasantly surprised, pleased. The numbers are way up.”

Numbers were already ahead of combined projections for the 8K Race and 5K Run/Walk by 50 runners entering the final day of registration during packet pickup at the Doubletree Hotel on Tuesday, when Powers estimated another several hundred participants signed up.

“The big one today has been the kids,” Powers said. “It’s a good number for anything but a Saturday. … For the elite racers, the biggest thing is the humidity and we’re all impacted by that. I think the forecast, at least for (Wednesday), is to be down on the humidity in the morning. But that will certainly determine the speed of all the runners.”

The day begins at 8 a.m. with the Health Solutions 8K Race, which starts at Greene Square Park, runs east to Bever Park and back.

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“The organization is great, great people,” said Philip Mburu, 29. “If you are looking for a fast time, the course is incredibly fast. That is why we run it.”

Mburu traveled from Minneapolis with fellow Kenya native Elisha Kipruto, 23. Mburu and Kipruto finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in the 8K last year.

“Good people down here,” said Kipruto, who originally emigrated to Fort Dodge before shifting his training to Minnesota. “Good course for running an 8K. We’re right next to Iowa, so it’s going to be close to me. I feel like I’m home.”

The 5K Run/Walk starts at 8:15, while the Kids Fun Run begins at 9:30 and the Youth Mile starts at 9:45.

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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