Spreading Aloha – Red Shoe Run/Walk Half Marathon Iowa City 2016

I’m actually impressed we were able to keep this a surprise as long as we did. Back in DC when we met for Tawni’s 100th half marathon dinner, Al found out that Kamika was running a small race in Iowa City for his 50th state. It was the weekend of Rock n Roll Nashville and since Kamika travels from Hawaii, he likes to make every weekend count. The one regret he had was that it was a small race and he didn’t want to ask people to go out of their way to join him.

Lesson number one: don’t share all this with Al and expect him not to do anything about it.

After landing in Chicago, we said goodbye to Kamika. He went off to pick up his rental car for the 3.5 hour drive to Iowa City. We stayed at the airport to give him a good head start before picking up an SUV at 5:11 PM. The last thing we wanted to do was run into him at a gas station or rest stop on the way. About an hour out of Chicago we stopped in Dixon, a small town known for being the home of Ronald Reagan and the founding place for the John Deere company.


Dinner was a lot more exciting than we were expecting. High winds and rain knocked out power about 10 minutes after we ordered. The kitchen was gas powered, so they were able to finish the meals, but they had to open the doors since the fans weren’t running. We improvised table side candle light using our iPhones and water glasses.

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Somehow we were the only ones in the restaurant who thought about doing this. The candles weren’t staying lit with the 45 degree breezes coming through.
Even though you can barely see it, the cream of broccoli soup was quite delicious

Now mind you, all this time, we were trying to keep this from Kamika. Al had received a text on the way to Nashville asking if there were going to be ‘any surprises’? He completely ignored that question and moved on. As we were driving there were a number of pictures that normally would have ended up on Facebook immediately, but I. COULDN’T. POST. THEM.

It was probably the longest 11 hours of my social media existence. I even threw a tantrum during the drive. We made it to the Sheraton Iowa City just after 10 PM. With bib pick up at 7 AM and a lot of damp clothes to deal with from Nashville it was an early night.

Sunday May 1st: Red Shoe Half Marathon
This is why I mentioned the palm-tree patterned windbreakers in the RNR Nashville blog. If anything, we would be noticed at the starting line.


It was a quick drive to the University of Iowa campus. The race started and finished at the Ronald McDonald House (hence the name Red Shoe). As we were pulling up, we saw Kamika heading back to his car with his friend Lyndon to drop off his swag bag. I wish I’d kept the camera rolling, but he didn’t see this coming.

Something I’ve really learned to treasure along this journey has been the connections we’ve made with people. This race would never in a million years have made our radar if Kamika weren’t running it. After he gave us grief for making him drive from Chicago to Iowa City by himself, he thanked us – many times – for making the trip.

Hawkeye Arena was open for the runners starting at 7 AM. There were tons of volunteers and plenty of places to stay warm.
Left to right: Top: Tamie, Al, Kamika, Joani, Lyndon. Bottom: Susan, Tawni, Ron. Lyndon said we looked like Hawaiian duck hunters.
De Moe, another Iowa Native, made the trip down after the Drake Relay Road Race on Saturday.

With that, all we have left to do is another half marathon. It occurred to me that I’m the only one of our group who hadn’t done half marathons on back to back days yet. Susan pulled this off in 2012 with American Parkway and Diva SF. Of course, we’ve done same day doubles for SA2LV and Avengers/Vegas (twice), but something about that long drive in the middle had me psyched to try something new.

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I’d actually asked Ann Wessling if she was free for that day since she grew up in Iowa and actually went to U of I, but she was in Omaha starting another race at the exact same time. This didn’t stop her from being there in spirit though.

Just before we started, Kamika gets a special hug.

The course itself wound around campus, through several parks and past several new housing developments. It was beautiful and the volunteers were about the most enthusiastic and supportive I’ve seen in years.

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By mile 6, every volunteer at the turns and water stops were talking about the group with the matching jackets. We stopped to thank every one of them and tell them about Kamika’s accomplishment.

Susan, Tawni, Tamie and I stuck together for the whole race. Al ran ahead with Kamika and was able to get the pictures for his 50th state finish.

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We’ve seen in small races that walkers tend to finish way behind the rest of the pack, but every aid station was fully staffed until we went by. Tamie has been nursing a foot injury for a few months but was able to gut this one out before Tinkerbell the weekend of Mother’s Day.  We hit the home stretch at about the 3:30 mark. The rain never showed up, so the windbreakers were actually perfect for the day.


Our bike-sweeper Aaron was awesome. Without him, we would have taken a couple wrong turns. He wasn’t sure what to make of the fact that we were in Nashville just the day before.


Tamie and I crossed the finish line last. She kept telling us to go ahead and leave her, but after all this time and travel, there was no way we would do that. This is what friends do.


Joani had a special lei, complete with cowbell, for the happy finisher.


And now he can finally color in the last hole in this map. After he gets home to wash it, of course.


We had to hustle to get on the road back to Midway. Kamika was headed the opposite direction to Des Moines to catch a United flight. After a quick lunch at Panchero’s, we said our goodbyes. Kamika would have a shorter drive, but was spending the night in Vegas before flying home to Kauai.

Meanwhile, we were racing back to beat the 24 hour car rental deadline. Al did a masterful job and we checked in at 5:10 PM – literally one minute left. Fortunately, we had a good amount of time to kill before our flights took off.

Sitting at the food court we started talking about our upcoming plans. Tamie and Tawni were off to Tinkerbell the next week. Al, Susan and I are off until RNR San Diego, but would meet for a movie. With Team in Training ramping up for RNR Seattle, my miles are just getting longer, so I’m really glad we stopped to appreciate the journey before scattering to the corners of the country. Even our drinks agreed that this was a good weekend.


It’ll be another month until we see everyone again. I, for one, can’t wait.


The Red Shoe Run/Walk is a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Iowa and Central Illinois and has been a tradition since 1984.RMHC-EIWI provides care and comfort to children and their families by supporting the 31-room “home away from home” Ronald McDonald House of Iowa City.

The 2016 event drew about 700 finishers, 337 in the half marathon, about the same in the 5K and a few dozen in the one-mile run. As local races go this one was well organized, superbly staffed with volunteers and the course was beautiful. If you’re looking for a race in Iowa or a good double, I’d recommend adding this to the Nashville weekend. It’s a great race. And a great cause.

4 Replies to “Spreading Aloha – Red Shoe Run/Walk Half Marathon Iowa City 2016”

  1. Truly a moment to remember when the car pulled up in the parking lot and the window opened with the Palm Tree Windbreaker Cult peering out at me. Even knowing how Al and the rest of the group works, I still didn’t think that they would have come all the way to Iowa after doing Nashville the day prior. Heart full, teary eyes, big smile, I went in for hugs all around (before giving them grief!). Thank you for joining me on my 50th State run in this beautiful part of our country! Iowa City… not what I was expecting! Quite the beautiful town!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m really happy we were able to surprise you. We didn’t have enough details of if Lyndon was going to be meeting you in Chicago so we didn’t want to take any time away from your local friends. We’re starting to get how you make the most of every trip. The Hawaiian duck hunter cult may become a fixture for windy races!

      The course was lovely! I’d certainly put it on our list if we needed to double up on Nashville again.


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