Des Moines is a nice Midwestern city. Capitol of Iowa. Population is 203, 433. The five county region making up the Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is just a little over 500,000. Median household income is $44,997.00.
Omaha is a nice Midwestern city. Largest city in Nebraska. Population is 408,958. The eight county MSA population is 877,110. Median household income is $46,978.00. So we’re roughly twice the size of Des Moines. When I moved here in 2001 I was told there were more millionaires per capita in Omaha than in any other city in the United States (Muchas Gracias Senor Buffet).
Des Moines hosts the largest 20K in the country- Dam to Dam 20K, they now cap the race at 8,000. It also hosts the largest cross country run in the U.S.- Living History Farms, now capping the race at 7,500. The venerable Drake Relays have been contested since 1910. They have Team Iowa RunAblaze. They have a full and Competitive race calendar year round. They had a combined 4500+ entered into their Grand Blue Mile on Tuesday night.
Omaha has two large races, The Corporate Cup and Race for the Cure in the fall, the vast majority of finishers are walkers in both. And the Omaha Running Club. A great club geared towards the social and non-competitive side of running.
I’ve tried my darndest to bring Real Competition (Team Nebraska, Omaha Mile, 2012 USATF Club T&F National Champs, multiple USATF Nebraska Association Championships) to Omaha.
From the three primary USATF Nebraska Assoc. long distance running clubs we had a total of 3 USATF men run the 2013 Association 12K Trail Run Champs a few weeks ago, not a single woman. Brian Wandzilak was the sole athlete from the Lincoln Running Co. Racing Team. Not a single representative from Ndorfnz Racing, and only Kyle Clouston and Jimmie Doherty from Team Nebraska. Even with the USATF prize money offered.
I’m accepting responsibility for some if not most of this. My hard edged insistence that Competition be the keystone of running didn’t/doesn’t/won’t fly well in the big O. Maybe if someone with a gentler demeanor and an incredibly long life span would have headed the charge, then maybe.
But it comes down to all of us really. Why is it that a smaller city like Des Moines with less resources can galvanize around the competitive side of our sport. It is the People and the Leadership (Cal Murdock, Steve Bobenhouse, Chris Burch, Brian Brown in Des Moines, friendly guys all). And that’s cool, I get it now.
That is why my joy these days is working with those athletes that do get what I’m still peddling, will always peddle. And not just the Team Nebraska athletes that I coach. But all those too that come to Wednesday Night Track. They (I) have been busting their rumps for the last several weeks as they prep for the Lincoln Marathon and Half Marathon. They are digging deeper than they ever have and the results have been amazing to see.
Maybe there is hope after all.