Posted by: Dennis Green | July 2, 2011

Lake Geode – Ready for the challenge

Many of our region’s athletes will be testing their mettle July 16 at the Lake Geode Challenge.

Lake Geode is an Olympic distance race (1500 yard swim/40k bike/10k run), held in Lake Geode State Park, near Danville in southeast Iowa.  2011 is the 6th year for the current incarnation of the race, says director Lori Rudy. “The race started in the 90s, then stopped.  We resurrected it (in 2006).”

The swim is a straight out-and-back, traditional wave starts. At this point in the season, it can be a crap shoot whether wet suits are allowed or not, depending on temps and rain the week prior to the race. Be prepared to leave the wet suit in your gear bag.

Both the bike and the run are pretty challenging courses.  Once you leave the park, you’re faced with hills that start out rolling and become challenging.  It’s a loop, though, so at least you only have to see each hill once!. There’s one water station on the bike course.

Helpful hint:  The end of the course has been changed from a busy road to another section of road within the park which is a windy, hilly climb to a turn-around and descent which takes you back toward the turn off to the road back to the beach.  You need to be careful not to cross the center line on the S curve on the descent.  It’s not dangerous, but a little tricky.  Might be worth eyeballing it the morning of the race.

The run stays in the park, but the challenging hills continue to belie the popular notion that Iowa is flat.   Couple them with the kind of warm and humid day you often get in July, and the race can be something of a character test.

Lori Rudy is honest when she admits this is a challenging course.  But the race staff really goes the extra mile to make the race a safe and enjoyable experience. “There are water stations every mile, with sponges & ice,” she says.  “And there is a plunge bath at the end of the course, so people can get cool quickly.  We’re lucky to have Great River Health Systems as our main sponsor, so we have plenty of medical staff on hand.  We want our participants to say, ‘Hey, these guys are going above and beyond what others usually do.'”

Things have been a little challenging from the facilities end as well. When the race started up again in 2006, the Iowa DNR had begun taking down the shelter house, so there was no electricity or running water!  In fact, 2011 will be the first year the race will have easy access to running water.

There is prize money for the top three finishers, male and female.  An extra cash prize is new this year.  The Happy Mutant Emporium is giving $50 for the fastest male and female swim, bike and run split, among individual participants.

The most unique prize, however, is the race trophy.  Top finishers in each age group receive a custom-made trophy whose center piece is a real geode, the race namesake and state rock of Iowa.

Race Staff pose with the final finisher in 2010, 80 year old Delmar Holtz

There’s still time to add Lake Geode to your 2011 race schedule. Registration is open till July 13.  Register online here.  Contact race director Lori Rudy with questions.

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