Our race (Siouxland Lewis & Clark Marathon and Half) was in Sioux City, which is on the Missouri River, where it traces the western boundary of the state at an intersection with both Nebraska and South Dakota. The city traces its heritage to Lewis & Clark who came through the area twice on their exploration - once headed upriver and the second time on the return. There are some impressive bluffs along the eastern side of the river with some beautiful forests, parks and inspirational views to the west across the Missouri River Valley. Even the aging city has its charm in an historic district, riverfront parks and a very interesting Lewis & Clark interpretive center. We also found unexpected charm in Council Bluffs (across the river from Omaha) and scenery in the Loess Hills. Council Bluffs introduced us to the Main Street Cafe - a true heartland eatery with wonderful homemade food and soups and a staff to match, not to mention Halloween decorations that alone were worth the visit. The Loess Hills are a remarkably rugged area of hills and forest over ancient dunes between Sioux City and Council Bluffs. And mixed in there were farmscapes and reminders of their heritage that were pretty remarkable.
There you have it. Is Iowa now on your list? Even though it is no longer on ours, we certainly don't regret our visit - and, in the process, that we checked off State #23. The race, itself, was good. It was relatively small (fewer than 200 participants in the half-marathon), but the logistics and support were excellent, the pre-race pasta dinner really good, the post-race snacks and pizza great, and the people warm and friendly - to include Vicky Eliesa - who we found through the Sioux City 1st Ward and proved to be a superb choice to watch Rachel for a few hours during the race. The course was relatively fast - but you remember those impressive bluffs I mentioned early on? Well, we had to climb those between miles 3 and 4.5, and they were pretty grueling. Luckily, the forest parks made it at least scenic (when you were seeing beyond the racing heartbeat and lack of oxygen during the climb). I ended up with a time in the 1:45 range, so felt pretty good, and Karen was likewise not disappointed with her time.
Another fun trip - another increase in understanding what America's Heartland is all about. And considerably more information about Lewis & Clark! The thought to share? I think you'll find it above - don't underestimate people or places and what they have to offer.