2017 Honorary Race Director – Karen Clark

Karen Clark accepting the first place award in 1985, her 3rd consecutive win.

Karen Clark – a special runner, indeed!

“Exercise was just part of growing up,” explains Karen. The Des Moines Hoover and Iowa graduated didn’t run in school and took up the sport in the early 1980s. “I met my husband, John a 4:05 miler, at the University. He introduced me to running,” states Karen, “soon I started racing”. After college John and Karen moved to Rockwell City to run John’s father’s grocery store. Running on gravel roads in the early morning was the routine prior to long days at the store.

Karen describes herself, “Turns out I was always a runner. I did what was natural”. She didn’t have any structure like intervals or long runs and a big week was 60 miles. Her hidden talent shined in 1983. She not only won Dam to Dam but the Iowa Grand Prix (a series of Iowa races) as the best female in Iowa. She again won Dam to Dam in 1984 and 1985. Then injuries plagued her after her last Dam to Dam victory. She recovered, running 4th at the 1986 Dam to Dam. John and Karen moved to Lincoln, Nebraska soon after and she continue to race competitively through 1990.

“I’ve taken a break from running the last 25 years,” Karen says, “but I remember Dam to Dam fondly”. For Karen a point to point course from Saylorville Dam to Des Moines was special. “I like running out in the country and ending in my hometown,” relates Karen. She was the gold standard for Iowa women in the 1980s and lead the way for many young females to take to the roads.


Past Honorary Race Directors

2016 – Brian Brown, 11th Drake Relays Director, 2005 to present

2015 – Ed Froehlich, Race Director of the Quad-City Times Bix 7

2014 – Phil Coppess, Best Iowa Runner Ever to Grace Iowa Soil

2013 – Jim Hallihan, Iowa Sports Foundation

2012 – Fr. Jim Kirby, Runner, Coach and Priest

2011 – Frank Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines, Iowa

2010 – Katie Flood and Ashley Decker, Dowling High School stand-out track/cross-country athletes

2009 – Mike Carney, First 20K & 5K double winner

2008 – Rae Gene Burger, Jan Gillum and Connie Robinson; Queens of Des Moines running

2007 – Gene Harding, Dave Hurd & Irv Steinberg; Kings of Des Moines running

2006 – Bonnie Sons, Five time 20K winner

2005 – Mark Kostek, Drake Relays Race Director

2004 – Joe Kobes and John Leonhart, Dam to Dam Founders

2003 – Preston Daniels, Mayor of Des Moines

2002 – Tom Vilsack, Governor of Iowa

2001 – Heidi Soliday, KCCI Sports Director

2000 – Chuck Jipp, Dam to Dam race committee