This past weekend I traveled down to Des Moines to participate in the Living History Farms Race. The "Farms Race", as it's known in Iowa, is a 7 mile cross country race that brings in over 7000 people. It's the largest cross country race in North America. The course is a challenging one, with 7 creek crossings, plenty of mud and steep hills.
Dave Schuneman, Kandi Geary and Shane Olson came down as well, so we had a great DRC contingent to represent northern Minnesota. Shane ran the XC race with me, Kandi cheered us on and Dave raced in the first ever Survivor Cross race, a CycleCross race later in the day that ran along the same course.
I've ran this race a few times over the years, but it's probably been about 8 years or so since I last ran it, so it was really fun for me to get back there. This race is admittedly over crowded, and I knew that the first half or so would be slow so I started off in the middle of the pack. I didn't start my watch, but I'm sure my first mile was around 10 to 11 minutes. I didn't really care, running fast wasn't my priority, I just wanted to have fun and re-live the race.
As we twisted our way through some of the living farmsteads of the Living History Farms grounds and the old familiar smell of horse crap filled our noses, I started moving up. Through corn fields and pastures we eventually worked into the wooded areas of the complex and began our series of creek crossings. Jumping into the first crossing I must have hit a low spot because I sunk down and the water wet up past my knees. This caused me to fall forward a bit and my hands caught me as I was heading down, sinking deep into the muddy bank on the opposite side of the creek. I pulled out both hands and they were black with Iowa mud.
Most of the creek crossings were pretty shallow and only required a step or two to get through them but on 2 or 3 of them, a very steep, slippery bank waited on the other side. These were a challenge to get up but they are what make the LHF race so famous. It's why people come, to get really muddy and have a blast!
I finally caught Shane, who had gone out really fast, around mile 4. I asked him how he was doing, "I'm trying to catch Sponge Bob," he said. So I took it upon myself to find Sponge Bob, who apparently had been ahead of Shane for the entire race, almost taunting Shane with his squeaky voice and square pants. I took off, trying desperately to chase down that bastard Sponge Bob.
Literally over the river and through the woods I went, searching for a giant yellow square sponge. I made the last, long climb up through a pasture, hurdled a few logs along the way and came back into the town area to finish along the main street. Alas, I never saw Sponge Bob but I had a great time anyway.
Below is a short video of Dave traversing one of the creek crossings during his CycleCross race. The steep climb up the muddy hill had to be even more difficult with a bike on your shoulder!