Run4Troops Marathon 2015 – Race Report

Marathons: Paul #70, Leah #60, State #48 : Run4Troops Marathon 2015
27th June 2015, Dubuque, Iowa, USA
Finish Time = 3:53:51

Leah: 1st Place Age Group

We knew nothing about Dubuque, not even how to pronounce it (doo-bew-key? dubb-you-queue? It actually turns out it’s duh-bew-kuh), but after flying in to Milwaukee, driving through Wisconsin and over the border into Iowa, there we were. On the Run4Troops marathon website it was stated that “This is a military style event, which means minimal support”, so for the first time we decided to run a marathon with our larger handheld water bottles. Judging by the forecast we were also in for high heat and humidity. We stayed at the host hotel and packet pickup was easy, located in a conference room later that night. There was an emphasis on the event being run military style and the shuttle buses “leaving at 5:15am SHARP” from the hotel. It didn’t sound like there was any messing around. There were 2 buses and if you weren’t on them you weren’t running the marathon, as there was no parking at the start and the course was point-to-point. We got up extra early and were down with time to spare.

A tip for anyone running this race: Get on the first bus if you can. We got on the second one at 5am, even though there was probably still room on the first. We didn’t think it made any difference, but the first one left at 5:15am as promised and we hung around on the second one until 5:30am to wait for stragglers. A bit frustrating to wait 30 minutes on a bus when you were early and could have already been at the start. The buses were the best we’d ever been on for being taken to a marathon start though. Brand new luxury coaches, no clunky yellow school buses! They even had their own toilets which were very useful at the start as the queues were very long.

We met up with a group of Maniacs at the start and got to catch up with our friend Jenn who we hadn’t seen for a long time. We had group picture taken in front of the tank:


Maniacs and a tank

After some military-style motivational speeches and the national anthem sung by a young girl who had been doing it each year from an even younger age, we lined up at the start. Relay and marathon runners all set off together promptly at 7am. The course followed the Heritage Trail all the way from Dyersville to Dubuque. It was the same trail used for army training and there were fitness stations along the way where they would stop and do chinups, situps, etc. We decided not to make it any harder than it already was.


Off we go


Our friend Jenn, just behind us in the grey top. It was great to catch up before the start

It was a nice course, shaded by the trees and then when we came to clearings there were great views of rivers, animals and green lands stretching as far as the eye could see. The course itself was dusty trail with small stones / crushed rock, definitely more forgiving than concrete or asphalt.


The course support was actually a lot better than they had made out, I feel like they undersold the water provisions! There were the main aid stations at each relay exchange as promised but also volunteers at road crossings often had coolers full of ice-cold water bottles and they were also driving up and down the trail handing out bottles of water to runners. Perhaps they had decided to put on extra water due to the heat of the day, which was getting really tough.


The humidity was making it a sweaty affair and whenever we ran in sections exposed to the sun it really reminded us of how hot it was. If it hadn’t been for the tree cover I think we would have been in a lot more trouble than we were. I can’t actually remember the last time I drank so much during a run.


Towards the end we were definitely pulling each other along trying to fight and ignore the reality of how uncomfortable we were. It was our 19th marathon of the year and it was only June. Our bodies hated us and our minds were telling us to stop.


We were relieved to get into the final mile and we completed the course in 3:53, achieving our sub 4 for Iowa and Leah also won 1st place in her age group, picking up a hat as a prize.

It marked my 70th marathon and Leah’s 60th. If someone had told me after I ran my first marathon in 2008, that I would go on to run 69 more I would never have believed them.


We hung out with our Maniac friends at the finish, eating pizza and enjoying being able to sit in the shade.


There aren’t many options for marathons in Iowa and we’re really glad we choose Run4Troops. Not only does the event support the US troops with the proceeds but it also manages to put on a well run and organized race on a nice trail with super volunteers.

Elevation Graph from my running watch:



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