Even though we can get to New Hampshire from our home in Maine on foot without considering it our long run, we thought that heading to Iowa in this election season would be a classic time to visit. We had scrolled through possible options on Running in the USA and settled on the Lagomarcino Cocoa Beano 5K. (I just love saying that name!). When a race registration form asks if you want dark or milk chocolate and if you understand that your $39.00 entry fee includes a fleece jacket, it’s a pretty good sign that you’ve chosen the right race. The race was held in Davenport, Iowa which is just over the border from Illinois. Thanks to a travel tip from my sister, Kate, we realized it would be an easy drive from Chicago where we had found good deals on flights.
The scenery along the drive was miles and miles of farmland which was an interesting contrast to our wooded, hilly Maine landscape.
We arrived in Davenport just prior to the beginning of the packet pickup which gave us an opportunity to stroll around the lovely village of East Davenport and enjoy lunch at Lagomarcino’s.
We loved the quaint feel of the restaurant.
The array of home-made chocolates was delectable.
By the time we had finished lunch, the packet pickup had begun at the theater across the street. The place was packed! Messages from the race directors had indicated that registration had been closed at 3,700 runners. It is obviously a very popular race.
After getting our numbers and wonderful fleece jackets we made a little detour to 11th Street Precinct where we began work on our other quest (sampling local beers).
About a week before our trip, I had done a quick search for campaign events that we might be able to hit while in Iowa. I was thrilled to see that there was a concert event called “RockintheBern” which featured a number of local musicians AND an appearance by Bernie Sanders in Davenport on Friday night…and it was free! So on our way to our hotel, we dropped by the Bernie Sanders campaign headquarters and retrieved our tickets.
When we arrived at our hotel, less than 2 miles from the race, we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was in an area surrounded by brew pubs, restaurants, and other attractions. But better yet, as we wandered around the hotel, we realized our hotel was connected to the theater where the concert was to take place by a skywalk. We could get to the event without even having to venture out into the drizzly night. We couldn’t stop exclaiming over how perfectly it had worked out completely by chance. (There is a possibility that is was just me that kept exclaiming about it…but you get the idea.)
As we entered the theater later that evening we were caught up in the phenomenal excitement and enthusiasm of the crowd. After hearing about Iowa in election news, it was thrilling to actually be in the midst of true life campaign events. The concert featured a number of local musicians who all sang politically poignant songs that supported Bernie’s campaign message.
The audience went crazy when Bernie arrived on stage. It was exciting to see him in person and to listen to him speak passionately about the issues which are the cornerstones of his campaign.
My photography skills really suffered during the excitement of the moment.
We left the event feeling a bit stunned at the incredible good fortune to have been able to so easily attend this outstanding event.
The race started at 9:00 a.m. the next day which allowed us the greatest luxury of sleeping in a bit (after having gotten up at 2:30 a.m. the day before to catch our very early flight) and still having plenty of time to get to the race.
It was a bit drizzly as we waited for the race to begin.
But the crowd waiting to run was enthusiastic and the village was picturesque.
Apparently the designated national anthem singer had not shown up but after a brief pause in the announcements someone began to sing the “Star Spangled Banner” over the PA system. They sang beautifully. But even more moving was the moment when the PA system cut out and you could hear all of the runners quietly singing along. I was completely choked up as I sang, too. We had a beautiful view of the Mississippi River as we started the race.
The course traveled through pretty residential (periodically hilly) neighborhoods. We had seeded ourselves back a ways so between plotting our path around fellow participants and enjoying the local architecture and scenery the time zoomed by. The course features a long downhill finish which it felt like we flew down. The same live band that had sent us on our way added to the festive feel as we headed to the finish line.We happily veered to the side to high five the row of children lining the end of the course. The race benefits the Mississippi Valley Boys & Girls Clubs and having a chance to connect with some of these kids was a highlight of the race. We crossed the finish line holding hands and then were sent into separate lines to collect our milk (me) and dark (Mike) chocolate turtles. We enjoyed some stretching with a view of the Mississippi River.
and then stood in line for a cup of Lagomarcino hot chocolate. This is truly the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted!
I cajoled Mike into taking a selfie which I am only including here due to it’s hilarity.
I then insisted we pose for our official race finish photo and nabbed some poor passerby to take our picture.
We were pretty chilled after the race and happily returned to our hotel for hot showers before venturing out to explore Davenport. Our first stop was Front Street Brewery where we had terrific local beers, good food, and fabulous service.
After lunch we went to explore the bridge that crosses River Drive. I’m sure it has a name but I couldn’t figure out what it was.
There was a great view of the Mississippi from the bridge.
We were still yearning to return to the ice cream parlor at Lagomarcinos so hopped in the car and drove the short distance back to the Village of East Davenport. We happily indulged in ice cream sundaes with their home-made ice cream and famous hot fudge sauce.
When we were walking around Davenport near the river we had noticed a number of people dressed in tweed riding bicycles. When we arrived in the village we were pleasantly surprised to find many more participants in what we realized was the Tweed Ride.
We came across this sign in the village which made me laugh.
Later in the day we spent some time walking around downtown Davenport and happened upon Cru, a fabulous wine bar.
As we walked back to our hotel the sky began to glow with that rare combination of light and color. I literally ran to the river to try to capture the sky before it evaporated into darkness.
The Mississippi River at sunset.
The next morning we went for an early run and captured the sunrise on the river.
Before departing for home on Sunday we snapped a few more photos of this wonderful mid-west town.
Our initial expectations of what we would experience in Iowa were far surpassed. We never imagined the excitement, fun, and festivities that would unfold on this short but exceedingly terrific trip.
Quest Race #: 22
Date Run: October 24, 2015
Bottom Line: The Lagomarcino Cocoa Beano 5K is an exceptionally well organized race that offers runners wonderful treats including famous Lagomarcino chocolates, high quality fleece jackets, and truly outstanding hot chocolate. Our time in Iowa was filled with unexpected bonuses and a surprising opportunity to really embrace the excitement of politics at a personal level. Once again we were struck by how fortunate we are to be on this quest to run a race in every state because we have found it really is about the journey.