Friday, March 19, 2010

Lake Johanna Four Miler

The MDRA Spring Race starts tomorrow! Below is the rundown on the seven upcoming races.

Lake Johanna Four Mile Saturday March 20th at 11:00 a.m.

MDRA 7 Mile Saturday March 27th at 9 a.m.

Ron Daws 25k Saturday April 3rd at 8:15 a.m.

Fred Kurz Ten Mile Saturday April 10th 8:30 a.m.

Mudball Classic 4 Mile Sunday April 18th 10 a.m.

Mom’s Day 5k Saturday May 8th 8:00 a.m.

MDRA Mississippi 10 Miler Sunday May 30th 8 a.m.

So tomorrow brings the opening race of the series, the Lake Johanna Four Miler. Each week leading up to the race, we will try to give the background of the race in terms of its history, course, and people’s experience, beginning with the Lake Johanna 4 Miler.

This race is free to all MDRA members, but is also a member’s only race. But you can always join MDRA at the race.

Click here for more information.


It is a four mile race, hence the name. Norm Champ, chairman of the race committee summarized the course.

  • Moderate hills
  • A good distance to race this early in the racing season.
  • The course in on the streets and loops around Lake Johanna and through neighborhoods.
  • You can always do a loop or two extra if you're so inclined. Sounds crazy? Read on.


Race director Jim Rath helped provide some of the race’s history.

  • 1961 Inaugural race run at Columbia Park
  • 1971(?) The race was interrupted by a passing train. The leader got across ahead of the train, but no one else did. I call that a savvy veteran move. MDRA called that a reason to move the course. Someone should have called a train track operator outisde of Des Moines to give him a heads up about all this.
  • 1972 The race is moved to its present home, Lake Johanna
  • Also of note, in 1972 the men ran the four mile race. The women ran a mile race. Nice to see how times have changed.


  • It wouldn’t be an MDRA race without a giant Great Harvest cookie to enjoy at the end.
  • One of the biggest post-race door prizes drawing around. To quote Norm Champ, “After the race we raffle off literally a table full of race entries, clothing, and other miscellaneous running do-dads.” No word yet if Drew’s five-toed Vibrams are on the table.
  • Most notable 26:00 four miler ever. A woman showed up one year, well after the start, while Jim Rath was taking down the starting line and putting up the finish line. She asked if she could run the race too. So Jim signed her up as quickly as possible and she ended up finishing in 26 minutes.
  • Norm Champ wasn’t kidding when he said you can run extra loops if you want. He recalls a group who got to the race early and completed two warm-up loops and then ran the race. Oh yeah and then they did two cool down laps. That’s one way to get in your 20 miler for the weekend!

So whether or not you need a cheap, laid back race to get your feet wet with racing, or are in it for the door prizes, love cookies, or are looking for new ways to get a long run in, come out to Lake Johanna and be a part of MDRA history.

Who knows? Maybe you will be a part of next year’s story.

1 comment:

Steve Stenzel said...

Thanks for the background on this race! How times have changed!.... I noted some of your info (and linked to your blog) in my article about the race:

Also, here's my race report link on my blog: