From the serious marathon to the 5K of the undead, fall is full of races in cooler autumn temps. Get started with this list, featuring races and runs — from a fun run to 26.2-mile endurance test.
When: 6:45 a.m. Sunday (championship divisions) and 7:40 a.m. Sunday (amateur divisions)
How to watch: Starting location: Gray’s Lake, 2100 Fleur Drive (spectator watch spot at southeast corner of lake) Ending location: Iowa State Capitol, 1007 E. Grand Ave. (spectator watch spot at Locust and East Ninth streets)
Cost: Free for spectators
When: September through November
Where: Various sites in Iowa
Distance: Well, it depends. Cyclocross takes riders on a track they circle several times, but more on that below.
About: Cyclocross is a type of bicycle racing that takes place in the fall. Competitors complete several laps through a course (generally about a mile to two miles long) made from a combination of pavement, rocks and gravel, wooded areas, grass, steep hills and other obstacles. On some obstacles, the rider must dismount the bike and carry it over or under the obstruction, then remount and continue. It sounds like a lot of work, but the hundreds of people that compete every year swear it’s a blast.
What to wear: This isn’t the time for dressing up in costume. Wear bike clothing that can protect you from fall elements (cold, rain, snow), a helmet, mountain bike shoes for running and other special equipment.
Info: Go to bikeiowa.com for updates, course information, race and practice dates and more.
The Great Ames Adventure Race (GAAR)
When: Sept. 9
Where: Ada Hayden Heritage Park, 5205 Grand Ave., Ames
Distance: 2.7-mile canoe race, 15-mile bike race, 5K run
About: Get in touch with the great outdoors during the Great Ames Adventure Race (GAAR). Participants can compete in solo, tandem (two people in one canoe, then both bike and both run and times are averaged) or relay divisions (participants compete in sections as assigned by their teams). The race begins with a 2.7-mile canoe route around the lake, followed by a 15-mile bike race and a 5K run. The bike route is on paved roads north and west of the park. The run is on asphalt and cinder trails within the park. Bring your life jackets and bike helmets — they’re required. You must also bring your own canoe or kayak. (Rental information is available on the website.)
What to wear: Being a “great outdoors” race, we want to tell you a fishing hat, lace-up boots and a vest with plenty of pockets. What you’ll probably want to wear is something you can go from canoe to bike to road in, such as bike shorts and a moisture-wicking shirt.
Info: Go to greatamesadventurerace.org.
BeaverDash Charity Run
When: 8 a.m. Sept. 15
Where: The run starts and ends at Urbandale and Beaver avenues.
Distance: Choose the 5K run or one-mile frolic.
About: The BeaverDash benefits spinal muscular atrophy patients and their families, and celebrates the annual Beaverdale Fall Festival (Sept. 14 and 15). The 5K will be a timed event and refreshments will be provided after the race.
What to wear: Typical running garb will do for this run.
Info: Go to beaverdash.org.
Children’s Cancer Connection Flapjack 5K and 10K
When: 8:30 a.m. Sept. 16
Where: Water Works Park, 2201 George Flagg Parkway
Distance: Choose the 5K or 10K run/walk.
About: The signature fundraising event for the Children’s Cancer Connection, the Flapjack 5K and 10K, will take participants through Water Works Park on a scenic, flat course to support families in Iowa living with childhood cancer. After the run, enjoy a community pancake breakfast with all-you-can-eat pancakes, sausages, orange juice and coffee at 9 a.m., then stick around for a one-mile celebration stroll that will be kicked off with a balloon release to celebrate the lives of children dealing with cancer.
What to wear: Anything with the Children’s Cancer Connection logo will show your support for the organization.
Info: Go to childrenscancerconnection.org/flapjack.
Rock n’ Run for Metro Arts 5K
When: 8 a.m. Sept. 22
Where: Clive Aquatic Center, 1801 N.W. 114th St., Clive
About: The Metro Arts Alliance will host the first Rock n’ Run, featuring live entertainment and proceeds which help metro schools collect art supplies. Participants will enjoy music from Tropical Steel at the start of the race, The Cover Girls a mile later, the Isiserettes a little further and The Nadas at the finish line (they’ll begin playing at 9:30 a.m.). After the race, enjoy the music and a microbrew or two (who cares if it isn’t even noon?) from local brewers.
What to wear: Why not your favorite band tee? Fashioning your hair into a mohawk wouldn’t hurt, either.
Info: Go to metroarts.org.
When: 8 a.m. Sept. 23
Where: Course starts at Eighth and Locust streets downtown and finishes at Nollen Plaza, 400 Locust St.
Distance: Choose a 10-mile run or 5K run/walk.
About: The annual Capital Pursuit race has been giving endurance runners just the right distance to train and run since 1983. The 10-mile course winds through the neighborhoods northwest of downtown; the 5K course takes runners through downtown only.
What to wear: Your usual running shoes, shorts, shirt and sweatband should get you through this race.
Info: Go to capitalstriders.org.
The Color Run
When: 1 or 4 p.m. Oct. 6
Where: Organizers said the start and finish locations are still being determined at time of press, but that the race route is planned for Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway in downtown Des Moines.
Distance: 5K run or walk (or skip, or cartwheel)
About: The most colorful event of the year gives runners young and old, experienced or green, the opportunity to see downtown Des Moines in a new light. Dubbed the “happiest 5K on the planet,” participants in the Color Run are required to wear a white T-shirt and will start out squeaky clean. Then, each kilometer of the run is associated with a designated color (yellow, orange, pink or blue) and as participants reach the Kilometer Color Run Zones, they are blitzed with sprays of color (which are all 100 percent natural and safe). At the end of the run, the finish line promises to be the most fun line you’ll ever cross, followed by an after party with food, festivities and more color.
What to wear: All runners are required to wear a white shirt, so everyone can finish the run tie-dyed from head to toe. And don’t stop there — how about white shorts, a white sweatband and a crazy hair-do? This is a fun and colorful race, which means plenty of opportunity to get a little crazy.
Info: Go to thecolorrun.com/des-moines.
Run of the Living Dead
When: Noon Oct. 13
Where: Sleepy Hollow Sports Park, 4051 Dean Ave.
About: It’s October, which means Des Moines’ yearlong obsession with zombies spikes even higher for a month. To remedy the craze, Sleepy Hollow Sports Park offers the Run of the Living Dead, a 5K run through the woods, creeks and spooky nooks and crannies of the park. Dress up like a zombie if you want (and you should, it’s only $15 extra, but you’ll get your makeup done for you and a beer thrown in for good measure) and get into the spirit of things. Plus, all registered runners get a “Pick Three” ticket to Sleepy Hollow’s Scream Park for the night.
What to wear: Dress up like a zombie for this fun run. You can do your own costume makeup at home, or have staff and volunteers help you with it before the race. Just don’t show up looking like a plain ol’ human, or you may go from runner to dinner.
Info: Go to sleepyhollowraceplace.com.
IMT Des Moines Marathon
When: 8 a.m. Oct. 21
Where: Race starts and finishes at Nollen Plaza, 400 Locust St.
Distance: Choose the full marathon (26.2 miles), half-marathon (13.1 miles) or 5K (3.1 miles)
About: Des Moines’ largest marathon (this year, organizers anticipate more than 8,000 athletes and spectators) takes participants from downtown through Des Moines’ neighborhood streets and parks before returning back downtown. Along the way, more than 30 local entertainers will encourage runners to keep moving. In addition to the thousands of outstanding local athletes, qualified elite athletes can also compete, creating even more thrill for spectators. The IMT Des Moines Marathon is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.
What to wear: Your fastest shoes, shortest shorts and most comfortable top (don’t forget the Band-Aids, guys). Whatever will make you light and fast — this is a long one.
Info: Go to desmoinesmarathon.com.
Des Moines Race for the Cure
When: 7 a.m. Oct. 27
Where: State Capitol grounds, East Grand Avenue and East Ninth Street
Distance: Choose a 5K run/walk or one-mile run/walk
About: The Des Moines Race for the Cure draws thousands of men and women each year to raise money in support of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. New this year: A team T-shirt competition (enter your design and a panel of judges will select the top five shirts, which will be displayed on race day for a public vote; the winner will be announced on race day), team tailgating (teams that raise $4,000 by Oct. 17 will get their own tailgating tent with tables, chairs, water and team name signage), randomly awarded fundraising prizes for active fundraisers and a Facebook page dedicated to team captains.
What to wear: Pink! This race supports breast cancer, so show your support by wearing the signature color. Don’t limit yourself to just T-shirts, people show up in wigs, tutus, costumes and more for this event.
Info: Go to komeniowa.org/komen-race-for-the-cure.
Salvation Army Red Kettle Run
When: 9 a.m. Nov. 3
Where: Raccoon River Park, 2500 Grand Ave., West Des Moines
Distance: 5K run/walk
About: The Red Kettle Run is the perfect way to get in a little exercise while supporting the Salvation Army. Entry for the run is only $10, or the donation of five personal items (family sized, not travel sized), such as toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, toilet tissue and other common items.
What to wear: Something red!
Info: Go to salvationarmy-desmoines.org
When: 1 p.m. Nov. 4
Where: Iowa State Fairgrounds
Distance: Choose the 5K run or jog, or the one-mile walk.
About: The annual fairgounds 5K is a good way for avid runners to train for another race, and for new runners to compete in a small race for the first time. The route takes you down the Grand Concourse, around the livestock barns and through the hills of the campgrounds, giving runners a new perspective of the fairgrounds without the State Fair’s hustle and bustle or heat.
What to wear: This is a small, fun run that may get a little chilly, so we’d suggest something warm.
Info: Go to blueribbonfoundation.org/events/fairgrounds-5k.
Living History Farms Off-Road Race
When: 9 a.m. Nov. 17
Where: Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale
Distance: 7 miles
About: One of the most buzzed about races of the year, the Living History Farms Off-Road Race is where pain meets fun. Each year, the popular race is capped at 7,500 runners who run through rolling hills, wade through creeks, dodge farm animals and other wildlife, and claw their way to the top of muddy gullies. To add to the insanity, most participants dress up in costume — even old wedding dresses — for the event. Race registration opens Sept. 28 and will most likely sell out fast.
What to wear: Your Halloween get-up. Your old wedding/bridesmaid/prom dress. A Pac Man costume. A collective team ensemble. A gender-bending outfit. A mullet, bare feet and a loin cloth. The choice is yours. Just don’t show up in running shorts and a long sleeve shirt, sissy.