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Ready for the challenge?

Published: Friday, May 30, 2014 12:04 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, May 3, 2014 1:44 p.m. CDT

Mindy Stalker didn’t know she was in a training rut until she started mapping out and training on the preliminary course for Creston’s first half marathon slated for 6 p.m. July 3.

“It was the first time in a long time that I was excited about a route,” said Stalker, co-owner of Curves. “It has been fun to see new things in a town I have been living in for nine years.”

Stalker met with the Creston City Council, Union County Development Association Executive Director Wayne Pantini and Creston Police Chief Paul Ver Meer to discuss a safe and spectator-friendly course that highlighted the area’s recreational trail system.

“I think since the funds will go toward the trails, it is nice a majority of the route will be on the trail itself,” Pantini said. “Once we get the route pinned down for exact mileage, we just need to keep promoting the event.”

Starting in Uptown Creston, runners and walkers head west on Adams Street toward McKinley Lake. The route loops around the lake counter clockwise before sending participants north on the trail toward Greater Regional Medical Center.

Following the trail past Southwestern Community College, runners and walkers will be challenged by rolling hills before reaching the turn around point at the shelter near 150th Street.

“You go right past the area that was damaged by the tornado (April 2012),” Stalker said. “It is encouraging to see how that area has recovered.”

On the way back, the route cuts east to the Creston High School for a lap around the track, then back west through SWCC’s campus.

“I really enjoy running on the track,” Stalker said. “It will be a nice break from all the pounding on the concrete and a nice spot for supporters to watch.”

The final leg of the route takes participants back along McKinley Lake on Lake Shore Drive. It circles back on the trail through the historical complex before making the final turn back onto Adams Street to the finish line.

“It will be a challenging course,” Stalker said. “I believe it will be a nice opportunity for Crestonians to showcase their training for a type of race they would normally have to travel to do.”

Pantini, who completed the IMT Des Moines Marathon last fall, said it is encouraging to host a race close to home.

“This is a great way to promote the area,” Pantini said. “The running community is getting bigger and bigger, so anything we can do to help provide for that is a plus.”

Stalker said the event is for everyone, not just runners and walkers.

“If you can’t do the race, you can still help by volunteering or just coming out and cheering everyone on,” Stalker said. “And everyone is welcome to help celebrate afterward.”

Trail support

In 2013, Stalker wanted to host a race that complimented an event already taking place in Creston. She sent out several text messages and organized a casual 5K run July 3 to kick off the Fourth of July celebrations.

“I knew July 4th was already packed with activities, so there would be no way people would want to try to schedule in a half marathon,” Stalker said. “I did an evening race in Ames and loved the atmosphere afterward.”

Post race activities will be on Adams Street near the start/finish line.

The early signup fee is $25 for the 5K and $35 for the half marathon. Stalker encouraged runners and walkers to register early at www.crestonhalfmarathon.com to guarantee their race shirt and finisher medal.

“My goal is to create some funding to support the trails and if somewhere along the way someone finishes their first 5K or half marathon in Creston, that is even better,” Stalker said.

The route takes runners and walkers near the proposed Cottonwood Subdivision where another trail extension is in the works.

Extending the trail

Green Valley Park Ranger Alan Carr said the next addition of the recreational trail could start as early as June.

The current trail comes out at the west side of the dam at Green Valley Lake and will pick up in the parking lot on the east side of the dam and run along the perimeter of the lake. It will end at the Green Valley campgrounds.

“The response I have had has been positive,” Carr said. “A lot of people have been asking when this part of the trail is going to happen, so I think people are looking forward to having it done.”

Pantini said UCDA is working with the cities of Creston and Afton, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Creston Parks and Recreation to create a brochure that highlights the trails in Union County.

“It would be something we could provide at hotels and in tourism packets,” Pantini said.

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