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