Firecracker 5K offers competitive and fun run

Runners from Hamilton County, 15 states and several countries will be competing in the Webster City Firecracker 5K run on July 4.

This year’s Firecracker 5K will be the 26th held in Webster City. The race was started by the Webster City Running Club, a now defunct group that got together, made up some T-shirts in a garage, and held a race, according to race director Gary Moenck. Many of the runners have retired since. However, Moenck said both Arlo Van Diest and Shirley Svenson have attended every race since it’s creation.

The race has changed over the years. It began as a fairly casual race, with many walkers as well as runners. Moenck said the race still encourages people to walk the race if they would like to, but the Firecracker 5K has brought in more competition through the years. Moenck said his son, who has participated in the 5K for 19 years, used to run in college and has brought many runners from the University of Iowa to the race. Moenck’s daughter has also participated in the race for 17 years.

Other groups have also taken up the competition to turn the race into a popular midseason race for central-Iowa runners. The Iowa Central Community College team will be racing along with others. Moenck said the college brings in runners from across the globe, and will possibly include four college runners from Africa. In total, Moenck said the race brings in about 250 participants each year.

While the race began as a club activity, it has now become a fundraiser for the Webster City High School cross country team. The race is put on by volunteers, which include members of the cross country team and their family members. Moenck said that once the money for entry fees is collected, all the money that is not spent covering the cost of the race itself is given to the cross country team.

The race and walk, which begins at 8 a.m., has race day registration available beforehand. The race will begin and end at Twin Parks, located at 1100 Seneca Street in Webster City. The course follows routes on paved roads and park trails and is mostly flat with just one hill. Two water stops are located along the race route.

After the race, trophies will be awarded to the overall winners plus the first through fifth place winners in each age group. In total, Moenck said he will give out 90 trophies, making the awards ceremony a big part of the race.

“When people go to small town runs, there might be two or three medals that they pass out,” Moenck said. “Here, we give out 90 trophies to every age group up to ages 70 and 80.”

A Kids Fun Run will follow the race at 9 a.m. for children age nine and under. The distance for the fun run will depend on the child’s age. All children in the fun run will receive ribbons at the awards ceremony.