DES MOINES, Iowa — It was more than a race on Saturday. “Just an awesome feeling. It almost brings some tears to your eye,” said Todd Haugen.
The 20th annual Capital Striders of Des Moines Loop the Lake 8K served as a kickoff to a spring much different last year. “It’s good they can have a race. Something positive going forward. I think we are gradually going to get through this pandemic as long as we stick together and do the right stuff,” said Haugen.
After a year of canceled and postponed events, even Saturday’s dark skies couldn’t dampen the moods of participants. “The weather didn’t cooperate with us but you couldn’t wipe the smile off anybody’s face today,” said co-race director and Capital Striders board member Jeff Wamser.
The Des Moines nonprofit educates, promotes and encourages running in the Des Moines community. Most of Saturday’s runners haven’t been able to enter an organized race in over a year due to the pandemic. “We are really flattered and thrilled beyond belief that people would choose this race to be their first race back, and for some it’s their first race they’ve ever done,” said Wamser.
Runners were required to wear masks during the staggered start and also soon after they crossed the finish line. Post race snacks were grab and go to keep in line with COVID-19 protocols. Wamser said, “It’s great to see everybody respecting some of the guidelines put forth by the city.”
The finish line was a welcomed sight for many who braved the cold, wet and windy day. With a full slate of outdoor running events this spring and summer, many of them hope it serves as a metaphorical finish line to life under the pandemic. Haugen said, “It’s great to see a lot people with smiling faces again. We’ve been through so much this past year and it’s just an awesome feeling.”
Proceeds from the event help fund the organization and provide scholarships for runners who continue their racing passion in college.