DUBUQUE COUNTY, Iowa – Runners took off from Western Iowa on Friday with the goal of making it to Eastern Iowa on Sunday.
Hundreds crossed the finish line at Eagle Point Park in Dubuque Sunday afternoon after three long days of running.
Organizers call “Relay Iowa” the longest relay run in the United States.
One person on each team is running at all times, and that members switches with another team member when he or she gets tired.
About 300 people ran across the state, and they did it with a pair of tennis shoes and a little team work.
Through the highs and lows, they experienced it all.
“[It was] one of those black-winged red birds. It started hovering over my head. So, I went up to bat it away and as I did that I just biffed it in the gravel road,” said Quad Cities Runner Jazmin Mendez.
“On the first day it was really hot and humid and that was difficult. But then yesterday morning I got hailed on,” said Quad Cities Runner Betsy Green.
They ran over night, they ran up hills and they ran for hours on end.
“We are “Team 51-hour energy”. Some of us did it last year and it was about 51 hours of running,” said Runner Beth Adams of Indianola.
Teams of runners ran a combined total of 339 miles starting in Sioux City and ending in Dubuque. They said they trained and worked hard to get to that finish line.
Proud Parents Karen and Ken Thimmesch of Tiffin watched their daughter cross the finish line.
“To see her run and to do this is just great, especially coming back to Dubuque. Because I’m from Dubuque and we spent a lot of time up here when she was little because my mom and dad are from here. so to be finishing here, that is really exciting,” Karen Thimmesch said.
Many, however, never forgot why they were running. Participants watched with a smile as they experienced a Skype session with orphans in South Africa who were benefiting from the money raised.
“It is fun and it’s for a wonderful cause, and it’s just a really cool challenge to be able to say that you ran across an entire state,” Green said.
The proceeds from the race go to an organization called Restoring Hope International. The group has a village in South Africa where it cares for children orphaned by AIDs or other illnesses.