IronHorse Races – USATF Certified & Sanctioned


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IronHorse’s 2023 registration is open.  Plan early and reserve your spot at the best rate.

Thank you!


2021 IronHorse Race Results

The IronHorse Races include a Full Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K and 5K Run. All are USATF Sanctioned.  The Full Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K are USATF Certified.  The Full Marathon takes place on the Wapsi-Great Western Line (WGWL) Trail located in Riceville, Iowa and the Shooting Star Trail in Minnesota.  The Half Marathon, 10K and 5K take place on the WGWL Trail.  The WGWL Trail has a Northern Branch and a Southern Branch.  The races take place on the Rails-to-Trails recognized paved and concrete laid Northern Branch.  The Iowan WGWL Trail is the first and official interstate trail connecting to Minnesota’s Shooting Star Trail.

5K and 10K runners will experience railroad level grades on a paved trail out-and-back course.  Full and Half runners will experience winding woodlands and railroad level grades on a paved trail from point-to-point.  Full marathon runners will also experience a four-mile section on crushed rock at the midway point.

Safety is paramount.  The race is located largely on a dedicated recreational trail.  Shuttles provide Full and Half marathon racers transportation to the starting points.* Full Marathon starting point is the Shooting Star Trailhead in LeRoy, Minnesota.  Starting point for the Half Marathon is the Minnesota/Iowa stateline and for the 10K and 5K start, it is the WGWL Trailhead in Riceville.  Full and Half Marathon courses are point-to-point. 10K and 5K course is an out-and-back.  Aid stations and port-a-potties are located along the race route.  The finish of all races is at the WGWL Trailhead Welcome Center in Riceville, Iowa (110 Main Street).

Scenery is extraordinary.  Rural and quiet, yet full of American beauty like cattle grazing, Amish farming by horse and hand, modern energy advancements in the form of a 30+ wind turbine farm, a 240 acre Oak savanna, a wetland boardwalk, the small village of McIntire, and the wide expanse of farmland being planted in May.

Awards given to the first three finishers in each gender in each race.  Awards are not given out by age category.  All Full and Half Marathon registrants who finish will receive a finishers award.

Location is a getaway, but not too far.  Riceville, Iowa is one hour:

south of Rochester, MN
east of Mason City/Clear Lake, IA
west of Decorah, IA

And an early morning drive from:

the Twin Cities, MN (2 hrs south)
Des Moines, IA (3 hrs north)
Madison, WI (4 hrs west)

Lodging is ample and variety abounds.  Riceville has four lodging establishments and a campground with 80 campsites, modern showers and bathroom facilities. Surrounding communities offer additional hotel options.

Historic Riceville Hotel
Lake Hendricks Campground
Rossiter Studio Inn: 641-220-2685
Sweet’s Hotel
10th Hole Inn & Suites

Racers without lodging are welcome to use the Lake Hendricks showers following their race.  They should contact the Howard County Conservation Board out of Cresco, Iowa to confirm camping and water access.

Why Iron Horse?  The IronHorse represents the abandoned railway corridor preserved by the WGWL Trail as well as the industrial power and revolution the railroad brought to America.  The railroad actually hauled iron ore in this area as well.

May you feel that frontier spirit as you “lap the miles and lick the valleys up . . . ” -Emily Dickenson’s The Railway Train

IronHorse proceeds directly impact nature preservation and restoration, trail maintenance and enhancements.  Thank you.

This is a race.  For the safety of all involved, no strollers and no dogs please. Registrations are final after April 1st – no refunds, deferrals or race exchanges.  No club discounts after April 15th.  Pacers are welcome, but must be a registered participant. Thank you.

Note: All communications will be delivered by email to registered participants for security reasons.  Additionally, to act our conservation mission, there will be no hard-copies of race information mailed to participants.  The runner’s information email will be sent to registered racers on April 2nd.  To all those registering after that date, your runner information email will arrive on April 15th or April 30th depending on when you register.  No t-shirt purchases or shuttle reservations will be taken after April 15th.  Registrants from April 16-30th will need to provide themselves transportation to race start and from race finish.  Registration closes for the Full and Half Marathon on April 30th.  The 10K and 5K race does have same day registration.



COVID Additions:

See race registration site.

Thank you for understanding the need to be agile to best accommodate whatever situation awaits us next May.

See all WGWL Trail events at

Sweetheart Ski Saturday, Feb 11th – Free, no registration required

IronHorse Full Marathon, Half Marathon, Half Marathon Relay, 5K Saturday, May 6 –

Wapsi Wiggle Training Half Marathon & 5K Saturday, August 6

Border Bike Ride IA/MN Interstate Ride Saturday, August 27

DeRailed Adventure Multi-Sport Saturday, September 24