Saturday, July 15, 2023 • Okoboji, IA • Course Map
With such an official-sounding title like the University of Okoboji Homecoming Races Half Marathon, you’d probably think that this is a race that’s officially sanctioned and organized by the university up in Iowa’s Great Lakes region, the popular summertime boating, fishing and outdoor recreation destination in the state’s northwestern corner.
However, the “university” doesn’t actually exist. It’s the fictional creation of the owners of The Three Sons retail store in nearby Milford, Iowa, who first came up with the idea for their institute of higher learning back in the 1970s, recalling the fun times they’d spent with friends at the mythical “Camp Okoboji,” on the West and East Okoboji Lakes that lie just north of Milford.
Ever since then, the legend of the “university” has grown far and wide, and you’ll find everything from sweaters, t-shirts, bumper stickers and coffee mugs emblazoned with “University of Okoboji” in big block letters when you arrive in town for the race.
There’s even an entrance exam posted on the Three Sons’ website if you’d like to take a look at how to qualify for “acceptance” — and just like the mission of the university itself, the emphasis is on fun and enjoying yourself in this corner of Iowa’s great outdoors.
For runners in the half marathon, the event starts along the western side of West Okoboji Lake, in the area known as Wahpeton. From there, runners make what is roughly an upside-down U-shaped route all around the western, northern and eastern shoreline of the lake, and cross the finish line at the amusement park in Arnolds Park, which is located along the southeastern shore of West Okoboji Lake, along Smiths Bay.
Runners will hug the shoreline for most of the half marathon route, which heads along mostly shaded, tree-lined roads that lie next to lakeside houses for much of the race. Past runners note that the course contains a number of rolling hills, though no major changes in elevation thanks to its location along the lakeshore.
The biggest challenge, however — as you might have guessed from its mid-July running — is likely to be heat and humidity, as temperatures have reached the 90s on the day of the race in recent years.
Race Weather & Climate
Located in Iowa’s northwest corner, just a few miles from the border with Minnesota and roughly 200 miles northwest of Des Moines, Okoboji typically sees its warmest weather of the year in July, which has brought record temperatures here as low as 41 degrees (in 1971) and as high as 103 degrees (in 1955).
In July, the average low is 62ºF and the average high is 83ºF.
- 2022 Half Marathon Results
- 2019 University of Okoboji Half Marathon Results
- 2018 University of Okoboji Half Marathon Results
- 2017 University of Okoboji Half Marathon Results
- 2016 University of Okoboji Half Marathon Results
- 2015 University of Okoboji Half Marathon Results
- 2014 University of Okoboji Half Marathon Results
See the race route map for the University of Okoboji Half Marathon here.
See race website
- $35 and up – half marathon
- $30 and up – 10K
- $20 and up – 5K
- $50 and up – triathlon
- $100 (per team) and up – team triathlon
To reserve your spot in the 2023 running of the University of Okoboji’s Half Marathon, 10K or Triathlon race, register online at GetMeRegistered.com here.
Official Race Website
Ever run in the University of Okoboji Half Marathon? Share your impressions here, or post your review in the Comments below.
Has there been any rescheduling for this marathon due to CV19? I am on the 50 in 50 journey and CV19 has caused my 2020 schedule to pile up and July works well to.space some of them out so that I am not running 3 marathons in 3 consecutive weeks.
Are there T-shirts? I just registered and need a medium men’s or large women’s. 5633802749
Can you please tell me if this race is a qualifier for the Age Group National Championship held in Omaha this August.
And here’s another review, from Mandi True-Iribeck: “Have to agree with Mr. Clark on this one. I ran the half marathon while my daughter ran the 10K (2011) and we made no effort to return the next year. Two port-a-potties were set at the start of the half marathon (seriously?) so runners were still in that line while the starting gun was fired. The starting line of the 10K was on the other side of the lake but no clear signs left athletes wondering exactly where it began. Furthermore, there were no mile markings whatsoever along either course to let you know where you were in the race. I, too, was handed a bottle of warm water at the finish line. Along with Mr. Clark, I also think that there is a lot of potential for this race, but organizers will first need to take some serious notes at other successful events first. They have a long way to go.”
Here’s what one reviewer, J. Jason Clark of Iowa City, Iowa, had to say about the race on the old version of our site: “I did the triathlon and my wife did the half marathon a couple of years ago. Of the nearly 60 races that the both of us have participated in since then, this was by far the worst. The organizers have too much going on at one time and don’t do any of the four races justice. By the time my wife finished her race, there were only a few bottles of Vitamin Water left. I wonder what the people who we saw on the course an hour after she finished got? The bike course takes racers right through the middle of a busy vaction town. I nearly got hit twice. There is a lot of potential for this race to be great but unless some serious changes are made, it will always be a bottom tier race.”