Saturday, June 2, 2018 • Des Moines, IA • Course Map
Set for its 39th and final annual running in 2018 — but just its fifth with the half marathon distance — Des Moines’ Dam to Dam races offer some of the flattest terrain and most scenic views that Iowa’s capitol city has to offer, with a race that starts at one dam outside the city and crosses over another in the heart of downtown.
The race is limited to 12,000 entrants — 9,000 in the half marathon and 3,000 in the 5K — and features a USATF (USA Track and Field) certified route that unfolds along a combination of countryside roads, riverside biking and running trails and city streets.
Runners start the race outside the city at the Saylorville Dam, which was built over a dozen years between the mid-1960s and the late 1970s as a way to control floods on the Des Moines River. From there, the race starts in the middle of the dam and heads east toward Horseshoe Road and 37th Street, and from there heads into the Des Moines River valley.
The next stretch features a big downhill around the 1st mile marker and then lots of flat terrain through the valley, as runners head south along 37th Street, Toni Drive and 66th Avenue. The elevation doesn’t change much again for the next five miles, remaining flat until runners hit the half-way point of the race on Morningstar Drive.
As runners head into the race’s second half, they’ll encounter slightly hillier terrain through Union Park, a stretch that will bring them close alongside the Des Moines River.
Between miles 9 and 10 through the park — a stretch that runs past Birdland Park, the Birdland Marina and the Heritage Carousel, a hand-carved wooden carousel with a real band organ inside that has been taking thousands upon thousands of riders in circles here since it was built in the late 1990s.
After that, runners head onto a stretch of the American Discovery Trail, a biking, running and walking trail that stretches all the way from Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware to the Point Reyes National Seashore in California.
That stretch brings runners south to what is perhaps the race’s signature stretch, the run along the Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge. This iconic bridge spans the Des Moines River near Grand Avenue and the Wells Fargo Arena, and here there’s an annual ceremony that taps noteworthy women in Iowa history for recognition on the bridge.
Once runners make it across the bridge and onto the Meredith Trail, they have just a couple of miles left — largely along Des Moines’s Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway — before they head into the finish line area at Grand Avenue and 13th Street.
The race features a course time limit of 3 hours, 15 minutes for the half marathon, and organizers note the race features water and aid stations at every 2 miles along the route. It’s also capped at 9,000 entrants and sells out every year, they add.
Race Weather & Climate
Set nearly in the center of the state, roughly 140 miles east of Omaha and about 340 miles west of Chicago, Des Moines typically sees some of its mildest (and wettest) weather of the year in June, which has brought record temperatures here as high as 103ºF (in 1988) and as low as 37ºF (in 1889).
On race day (June 2), the average low is 58ºF and the average high is 79ºF.
- 2017 Dam to Dam Half Marathon Results
- 2016 Dam to Dam Half Marathon Results
- 2015 Dam to Dam Half Marathon Results
- 2014 Dam to Dam Half Marathon Results
see event website
Registration for this event opens in March 2018. To reserve your spot in the 2018 running of Des Moines’s Dam to Dam Half Marathon or 5K race, visit the event website below for the latest updates.
Official Race Website
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