My Kansas City/Des Moines Double

I don't like running double marathons (marathons on back-to-back days), but sometimes it makes a lot of sense logistically and financially to knock off two nearby states in a single trip. Last weekend I ran the Kansas City (MO) Marathon on Saturday and the Des Moines (IA) Marathon on Sunday, earning states #45 and #46. With mixed results. Here's how my weekend went. (Warning: double the marathons, double the photos in the blog!)

The race directors of the two marathons must have realized that a lot of Marathon Maniacs, Half Fanatics and 50 States Marathon Club members were already doubling these races. For the first year, they teamed up to offer the I-35 Challenge: a bonus t-shirt and medal if you either ran both marathons or both half marathons. I was already registered for the marathons when they announced the challenge, so that was an added bonus to perform well.
I love the interstate theme of the challenge; the cities were about a 3 hour drive apart via I-35

This was going to be another quick weekend. I flew into Kansas City, met up with Jody, hit the expo, then enjoyed a nice vegan dinner at Café Gratitude. We got plenty of sleep and stepped outside the hotel and walked only half a block to the start corrals.

The view of Kansas City from our hotel room

My dinner and juice from Café Gratitude

Jody, Dave and I after the official Maniac pic (which Jody and I missed)

We started off the Kansas City Marathon going uphill. That was good practice for the rest of the course, as there were hills galore! The good news is that they went downhill too. I pretty much walked up and ran down, and I was feeling good, so I ran down fast, for me. Kansas City was much more beautiful that I ever thought. They had lots of interesting, old buildings, public art and fountains. And everyone was excited about the upcoming World Series in which the hometown Royals would be playing the San Francisco Giants. I was all for the Royals, as the Giants had just beat my Nationals, putting us out of the running.

Leaving downtown and going uphill

War monument

I told the spectator on the right that I would try not to anyway

With Mike and Larry before the half

I was moving along at a decent pace, not worried about making the 6 hour cut-off. I had beer at a couple points along the course. The spectators were not everywhere on the course, but they were great. One house had a huge marathon party with a bouncy castle for the kids, lots of Halloween decorations and tons of food and drink in their front yard.

Most awesome inflatable black cat (just like our Boo) at the party house
Fountain selfie in this nice neighborhood

Sometime after the halfway point, I began running with first-time marathoner Araceli. She had some set-backs in her training with injuries and family commitments, so she had only run up to 14 miles (though she had done some additional endurance training on the bike). Araceli was not sure she would be able to finish the marathon, but I could tell that she was still running strong, and she was in a positive mood. I knew she would make it. We stayed together for the rest of the race and then celebrated her first marathon finish.

Even the dogs have Royals fever; the owner kept trying, but this cutie just wouldn't sit still for the pic

Selfie with Araceli with just a couple miles to go in her first marathon!

And we made it! Congrats, Araceli!

When I entered the finish chute, I saw Abbi with Daphne Dog. She had driven to Kansas City just to pick up Jody and me and drive us to Des Moines with her. Abbi was going to be pacing Des Moines. She informed me that she heard that KC marathon was out of beer, and it was true. Jody, who finished before me, also didn't get any. That was a minor disappointment, but I was actually overwhelmed with relief that I finished the race before the cut-off, and still felt great. It was my fastest time of the year, which isn't saying much, but given my quantity of races and my lack of training, it was great.

After a quick change and freshening up, we were on the road to Des Moines. Jody and I got checked into our hotel (Abbi would be staying in her Airstream) and the three of us hit the expo. Technically, the expo was closing and vendors were shutting down, but packet pick-up was still open, so we all got our stuff, and then headed to dinner.

In Des Moines at I-35 packet pick up with Magenta the Road Trip Flamingo
Dinner was a few miles outside downtown at Johnny's Italian Steakhouse, and we were there for a special event. Fellow Maniac Nancy was celebrating Des Moines as her 50th marathon state. The three of us walked in late to the party, but there were a few dozen people there for Nancy's party, many of whom I knew. We were welcomed in, and ordered our meals before the others started to leave. I'm sorry we missed all the festivities, but Nancy and her crew put on a great celebration and had party favors for us: laminated 50 states placemats, state stickers, and other patriotic items. I enjoyed the dinner and speaking with several of my friends before it was time to head back to the hotel. I'm disappointed that I didn't take any pics. I think I was worried about finishing my food before the event ended.

Des Moines Marathon didn't start until 8:00 AM, so we had plenty of time to get a good night's sleep and walk the few blocks to the start. We missed the official Maniac photo, but did see Nancy and get in a photo with her.

Celebrating Nancy's 50th state!

Ready to go with pacer Abbi
Jim still hasn't seen any of that money from the business named for him
And then, we were off to run the streets of Des Moines. Abbi was pacing 5:25 and I started out with her, knowing that I wouldn't be able to stick with her the whole way. I dropped back after Mile 5. The hills were aplenty in the first half of this race, like they had been all day in Kansas City. I again walked up and ran down, still feeling good.

Pacer Abbi leading her group

Abbi used a great run/walk strategy to get her peeps up the many hills

I found Jim, and he was almost too fast to photograph

Selfie with Sue on one of the out & back sections

And then, I didn't feel so well anymore. Just after the half, I experienced a sharp pain in my right shin, the same leg I have had problems with recently, which is also where I had a stress fracture a few years ago. And the top of my foot hurt too - the top! The cumulative hills from Kansas City and the first Half of Des Moines finally got the better of me. I tried to alternate walking and running, but running was very painful, and I felt I would be further damaging my leg if I kept it up. So, I made the sad decision to walk, and only walk, the rest of the course. I knew I would still finish, because Des Moines had a generous 7 hour course limit.

Ran a lap around the Drake University track

Selfie with Lori and Amy on the back third of the course

I spent some time walking with Maniacs Amy and Elizabeth, but eventually I dropped behind them. I just don't have a fast walking pace, and I was still in mild pain just walking. That was OK. This course was very well-supported, so I didn't feel left behind like you do when you're at the back of the pack of some marathons. Des Moines had lots of water stations throughout the entire 26.2 miles. They had the absolute best bike support I've every seen - at different times I got hand sanitizer, BioFreeze and beer(!) from the bike crew. And the entertainment was awesome too. There were bands and DJs all along the full marathon course, almost to the last mile.

The bike crew was amazing!

Looks like the race took good care of their crew - happy to see this!

One of the MANY bands on the course; they were playing "Blister in the Sun" as I passed
View of the city toward the end; it took a LONG time to walk around this lake
And then, eventually, I finished. No sprinting across the finish line. I walked it in just as I had been doing for several miles prior. Abbi was waiting for me with a pizza that she had saved, in case they ran out. They did run out of beer (sigh). The other small disappointment: they ran out of full marathon challenge medals, so I got a half marathon version (and emailed the race director later on, because he said there may be more medals in Kansas City).

In pain, but finished with my I-35 challenge, earning me 2 new states
And that was my double marathon weekend. I had a great day in Kansas City and finished strong, but the beating on my leg caught up with me in Des Moines, where I simply just finished. There was only time for a quick clean-up again, and then Abbi drove Jody and I to the airport.

Fun Fact: two years ago, Scot ran the Kansas City/Des Moines double the same weekend that I ran the Monster Mash Marathon in Delaware. So, this year while I was in KC/DM, Scot decided to run Monster Mash!

At 2012 Monster Mash with Maricar
2014 Monster Mash Maniacs - Scot on far right


  1. Great photos as always! :)

    Those double's will kill ya!

    1. Yeah. Only one double left in my career! Thanks for your support in KC & DM. See you in Indy!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Tokyo Marathon Fail (My Undeserved DNF)

2017 Hefei International Marathon Race Report

Comparing Two Large European Marathons: Rome vs. Paris