Last weekend I headed down to Davenport, Iowa and participated in the Bix 7 and - wow - what an experience! I'll be honest - I had no idea what to expect with this race and signed up for it kind of last minute. We were planning to head down there that weekend for a family event, and my sister in law casually mentioned she'd be running a "small" race (we'll get to this later) and asked if I wanted to join. I instantly said YES!
In this post I'll share with you my Bix race recap, expo experience and more!
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When we got into town on Friday we went right to the Expo. It's been a few years since I've been to an Expo so I do have to say it was really nice to see everything that was going on. We did have both kids with us, who at this point were losing it (we had been in the car for quite a while) so I didn't have too long to check out the expo as I would've liked.
This was the first time that I realized that this "little race" as she referred to it was actually a really big race! The expo reminded me of something you'd see at a larger race - not as big as a race like Disney or Rock n Roll, but big enough that it took place in a convention center.
We got to the expo around 3:30/4ish on Friday and it wasn't as crazy busy as I thought it would be! They were having kids races that night so I thought the expo would be busy but I was wrong. This turned out to be the perfect time to visit!
When you first walked into the Expo there were 2 sections - one for people who had registered before a certain date, and another for late registration. I had registered a few weeks earlier so was able to find my name on a list to get my bib number. This is one part that kind of surprised me - a few days before the expo opened, we received an e-mail with a virtual swag bag but no mention of race numbers or anything. I think there would've been a good opportunity for race organizers to e-mail out bib numbers ahead of time so you could skip over waiting in line to get your bib number. They only had 1 sheet on the wall with numbers so it did take 5 minutes to be able to get my bib number.
Once I had my bib number, I walked over to the next section where you pickup your bib. The lines were organized by bib numbers - not last name - so you did need to have your bib number ahead of time. Once I got my bib, I was able to walk to the other side of the expo to get my shirt. They had a whole back wall set up with all the different t-shirts (they had both Bix 7 t-shirts and the kid race t-shirt pickup) and you walked up to a volunteer with your bib, they'd check off your bib and then give you the t-shirt. Super easy!
By this point both my kids were losing it so I wasn't able to stick around the expo any longer, but it did look like they had a decent amount of booths. I did see a local running store was there with a ton of gear and fuel, but I didn't have a chance to check out the other booths. Next year I'd definitely plan to arrive a day before so I'd have a little more time to check out the expo.
The next morning was race day! The race began at 8am, but the pamphlet made a few references to being in your corral by 7:40am so I wanted to try to get to the starting area by 7am. We ended up running a little late and got to the start around 7:20. Parking in the area was pretty easy, and there were lots of runners around so we knew which way to go to get to the start since a lot of the roads were blocked off by this point. I also liked that on the walk over to the start of the race there were portapotties along the main roads so I didn't have to worry about finding one once I got to the start.
My coach had scheduled me to do a. 1.5 mile warmup, so I did a slow warmup along the Mississippi River trail which was really beautiful! There were a ton of teams out there warming up so this made me feel a little better about running slightly late. I ended up wrapping up my warmup around 7:40 and started to head over the corrals.
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I'm not sure if I missed something at the expo (which is totally possible since I was a little distracted with my kids), but I didn't realize how corrals were being organized. I had assumed it had something to do with the race numbers, but then I saw it was by color. I thought it was the color of the bib, but then realized there was a little registration sticker on the bib that had different colors. I originally had joined the blue corral but then once I realized I had a yellow sticker I moved up to the yellow corral. I don't remember entering in any estimated finish times or anything when I registered for the race, but I must've in order to get a corral assignment (I'm just going to blame mom brain on this 🙂 ). Anyway, got to my corral with a few minutes to spare!
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I was using this race as a practice race for my upcoming marathon, so my coach had me pace this race to be negative splits. My goal time was 59:59 (8:34 average), with paces:
Miles 1-2: 8:35-8:45
Miles 2-6: 8:30-8:40
Mile 6-7: Fast Finish (under 8:35)
I created a workout on my Garmin with these paces to keep my on track.
Race Day Gear
For this race I packed pretty minimally. The race organizers had sent out a preview of course entertainment (which was about every ½ mile) so I decided to leave my AfterShokz at home and run without music or anything. There also looked to be an ample amount of water stations so I also let my water bottle at home too.
What I Wore:
Tech Tank Top
Looking back this ended up being perfect! I didn't feel bogged down with anything and it was perfect clothing for the temperature,
Bix 7 Race
Before I knew it, the elites were off and then it was almost time for my corral to begin! I think I was in one of the first corrals (again - not sure how I got there) and we started pretty quickly after the race began.
Mile 1 was the big Brady Street hill and I knew I was going to be taking this one easy. This looked to be the steepest of all the hills so I didn't want to go out too hot on this. Like any race, this part was also challenging because it was crazy packed with runners so it ended up becoming a little bit of a traffic jam. The frustrating thing is this is where some people already began to fade from going out too fast, so on top of it being crowded you also had mixed in walkers and people stopping abruptly to walk. I ended up finishing this first mile a little slower than planned at a 9:08.
Mile 2 was more of a makeup mile.I knew that this would be more downhill and flat, so I picked it up a little on this part. The nice thing about this course is that it's an out and back so at this point since the elites weren't on the return yet, they actually opened up both sides of the road to us to be able to run. This helped space things out a lot more! I finished this mile back on track at 8:44.
Mile 3 was when the elites started going by, so we all had to get back onto the side of the road and it got a little more crowded. I was still feeling good at this point, but did start to notice some incline I didn't remember seeing on the map. I don't remember too much of this mile except someone near me saying that one of these hills was the "worst one of the course" so that gave me a little hope that I'd be able to pick up some speed once this hill was past. I finished this mile in 8:49
Mile 4 was part of the turnaround point - after another big hill! I remembered seeing this on a map and I'm not sure if I just didn't remember it or what, but it was a little bigger than I thought it'd be. It didn't compare to the Brady Street hill, but it was a little more gradual until the turn around point. I did keep in the back of my mind the easy 2nd mile and how that was mostly downhill so I knew I'd be in another uphill climb shortly. I finished this mile in 8:35.
Miles 5 and 6 were another blur. It was getting really hot out and the hills felt like nonstop. I just kept focusing on going forward and taking one more step. I finished mile 5 at 8:40 and mile 6 at 8:34.
Once my watch hit that there was only 1 mile to go, I booked it. This was all downhill since we had hit Brady Street again so I went cautiously fast since I don't train a lot of downhills (the last thing I need right now is an injury!). As we got closer to the finish line, I kept hearing the announcer say how close we were to the 1 hour mark. That gave me extra motivation and I kept sprinting as hard as I could. I finally turned the corner on to the last stretch, and I gotta say this felt like it was forever. But I kept running and finally got to the finish! I finished that last mile in 7:23 and ended the race with an official time of 1:00:22.
While I was so close to my goal of under an hour, I'm pretty proud of how this race went. This race was way hillier than I thought it'd be and I felt so strong on every single hill. I'm also happy that for the most part my splits were consistent - they weren't the negative splits that I wanted, but still pretty consistent. I think next year I can go a little faster on Brady Street now that I know the next mile is basically an entire recovery flat mile. And hopefully next year the weather is a little cooler!
Finish Line Party
After I finished, I walked a little way to get to the Finish Line Party. Again - this was far from a small town race! The finish line was HUGE and there were so many vendors! I'm sure I missed some but from what I saw there were ice cream trucks with free ice cream, free Chik-Fil-A sandwiches, free chips, bananas, huge bottles of water, and more. They also did have a beer tent section and I think (I might be wrong) you got a free beer after completing the race. The bibs didn't have tickets or anything though so I'd bring cash or a card just in case.
Overall I was really impressed with this race. This was a big time race in a small town setting and it worked perfectly! For the most part the race was really well organized, but the only things I would change would be to send out bib numbers ahead of time and explain the corral color system a little better. It would also be nice if they required proof of time for the corrals because then I think you'd avoid some of the congestion at the start with walkers on the hill.
When I first registered for this race I had the hardest time finding where the results were from previous years! I'm always curious to see average times for a course, but could only find results under a paywall of the local newspaper.
Thankfully, they had a QR code at the finish line with a link to the race results on Athlinks. On that site you can also see all the previous year's race results, without the annoying paywall. The race results go all the way back to 1996!
Here's everything you need to know about the race:
Location: Davenport, Iowa
Date: Last Weekend in July
Size: 6,000-7,000 runners
Distance: 7 Miles
Course: Road, Hilly, Out and Back
Race Results: Athlinks
Swag: Cotton Blend T-Shirt, No Medal
Timing: Chip Timed
Water Stops: Yes, plenty of them!
I'm really glad I decided to run this race and I will definitely be back next year. This was a tough course, but so much fun because of all the hills. And the finish line party was one of the best I've ever been to! My only regret this weekend was not scheduling enough time to properly check out the expo and stay at the finish line party (next year I will for sure make time for all this!).
If you're looking for a fun challenging race with a great after party, the Bix 7 is definitely the race for you!
Have you run Bix 7? I'd love to hear what you think in the comments below!