IronHorse Races – USATF Certified & Sanctioned


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IronHorse Registration is closed for the May 1, 2021 Full Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K and 5K Races.

IronHorse’s 2022 registration window will open June 1, 2021.  Plan early and reserve your spot.

Thank you!


2021 IronHorse Race Results

The IronHorse Races include a Full Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K and 5K races that takes place on the Wapsi-Great Western Line (WGWL) Trail located in Riceville, Iowa.  The WGWL Trail has a Northern Branch and a Southern Branch.  The race takes 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.

Full and Half runners will experience winding woodlands and railroad level grades on paved trail.  Full marathon runners will also experience a four-mile section on crushed rock.  10K and 5K runners will experience railroad level grades on paved trail.

Safety is paramount.  The race is located on a dedicated recreational trail.  Shuttles provide racers transportation to the starting points (Full, Half and 10K).  The 5K 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).  Starting point is the Shooting Star Trailhead in LeRoy, Minnesota.

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 medal.

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.

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.  Individuals with a physical disability may participate using a hand-cycle (a one-minute lead start will be given to ensure freedom of movement for all racers).  Registrations are final after April 1st – no refunds or race exchanges.  No club discounts after April 1st.  Pacers are welcome, but must be a registered participant. Thank you.

COVID Additions:

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, had direct contact with an individual diagnosed with or suspected to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days or are experiencing symptoms, YOU SHOULD NOT ATTEND the IronHorse Races.

A physically distanced race start will occur.  Masks must be worn by participants from check-in through start to 1/4 mile into the race.  Masks must also be worn immediately following finish through departure.  All spectators of racers should be masked.  Registrants must declare if they wish to use the shuttle or arrive to the starting point by private vehicle (necessary for logistical planning).  Because the IronHorse Full Marathon takes place in both Minnesota and Iowa, for all races we will follow the governor proclamations of both jurisdictions.  The IronHorse will take place unless a governor or presidential order prohibits, which is beyond the race’s control and no refunds will be given.  Registrants who do not feel comfortable due to current infection rate numbers will not be given a refund, but will have the option to transfer their registration to a virtual race.