10K (6.2 Miles) in Okoboji, Iowa with Ellen Chesnut

Written By Ellen Chestnut

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a runner, I don’t run to win races, or beat times, or see how far I can go, yeah, I’ve run a couple marathons, half a dozen half marathons, and more 5 and 10Ks than I can count on my fingers, mostly so I can enjoy Oreo cookies every now and then.  I’ve always loved to be outside and I love organized activities like golfing, sand volleyball, or races – so when I learned about Steve’s “Good Run” challenge, I knew I had to participate.

Every year, my husband, Kyle and his entire immediate family take a trip up to Okoboji, Iowa.  This year we had 8 kids 7 years old and under and 8 adults, with that many people to corral, it wasn’t easy to find a time to get out for a run.  So one morning while most of the kiddos were still asleep, I dragged my sister-in-law Amy out of bed to run with me.  We started at our resort, Bridges Bay, an indoor waterpark with condos attached.  It has a great view of East Lake and is perfect for families.  This is where we began and before I even got started, I decided to thank my husband Kyle, for not only being my best friend and cheerleader, but for letting me escape for an hour to participate in this neat project. I also thanked our baby girl Morgan (who’s 2) for not only teaching me what unconditional love is but for hanging with me for many miles in the jogging stroller.

We then ventured down hill (mostly) to Arnold’s Park, where not too much was going on that early, but where many folks come to get their flare of University of Okoboji gear, indulge in yummy Blue Bunny ice cream, or take a ride on the old rickety roller coaster at the Arnold’s Park Amusement Park.  This is also where the Queen resides before taking groups out to enjoy the lake.  This is where I thanked, the only post-college boss I’ve ever had, Beth Cross, for getting me started, having faith in my passions, and giving me the tools to grow as a professional.  I’ve worked at her company, Innova Ideas & Services for 7+ years and have enjoyed every minute of it.

After Arnold’s Park we swung back up to the main route through Okoboji (Hwy 71) and stopped at an old Favorite, The Ritz.  The Ritz is known for its biker crowd, however they have great dockside seating with delicious pizza and fruity drinks.  I love to people watch and this my friends, is a great place to do just that.  Here I stopped to thank my favorite running partners, Matt Loecke, thanks for taking time to walk during our 20 mile long runs, Michael Chesnut, thanks for always going along with my crazy ideas, like relays and RAGBRAI, and Amy Chesnut, thanks for solving the worlds problems with me out on the road or at least chatting up about what is going to happen next on Real Housewives of New Jersey or Revenge (plus you were a great photographer/running partner today).

After The Ritz, we cruised across the bridge separating East from West Lake and up to Tweeters we ran.  Tweeters is a great restaurant in Okoboji that we eat at every year.  Kyle’s family grew up eating here, even though it is covered in Iowa Hawkeye décor.  The atmosphere is perfect after a day out on the boat.  Here I thanked the Iowa State Cyclones, because Iowa State is where a lot of it started for me.  It is where I met Kyle, where I was a Kappa, where I met some of my best friends, where I cheered so hard at Iowa State games, my temporary Cy tattoo on my cheeks cracked and where I learned what giving back was all about.

After Tweeters we headed to Brooks Golf Course. I was a golfer first, runner second and so here I stopped to thank my parents for keeping me active, instilling in me important values, and teaching me to be a good steward, these things I will never forget, nor will I forget all the support and love they gave to me during all those golf meets and everything else I wanted to do. After the stop on the links, we had, I’m going to go ahead and say it, two of the worst miles I have ever run in my entire life.  Not only was it 90 degrees and sunny by 8:00am in the morning, but it was sticky, hot and mostly up hill.  But…we made it!!

Barefoot bar was our last stop and although closed (so we couldn’t enjoy a fruity strawberry daiquiri) we were able to get some water and cool off.  Barefoot bar is known for their live music and yummy drinks.  They also have hilarious souvenir cups to take your drinks to go.  We ended up coming back to Barefoot Bar (by boat) later that day to enjoy and celebrate.  A map of our completed route is below.

Finally, a “Good Run” like this wouldn’t be complete, without talking about a cause that is important to me.  I have been very blessed throughout my life and have been fortunate enough to have a career and still spend time at home with my little girl.  I have also been slowly working on starting a Girls on the Run program in the Ames/Boone area.  Girls on the Run is a program that teaches girls to be active, healthy, and confident through friendship and running and is the cause I’m giving to.  To learn more about this cause, visit www.girlsontherun.org.

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