Bringing back GRRRR: Iconic event returns Oct. 5

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Over the next few weeks, the North Iowa Times will spotlight the history of the Great River Road - Road Race, as well as the activities that will be offered this year as part of the reincarnation of the iconic fall event.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

After a 17-year hiatus, the Great River Road - Road Race  (GRRRR) will be back on Saturday, Oct. 5. 

“It’s been talked about for years, and this year, it finally got off the ground,” said Duane Boelman, one of the event organizers. “There was an amazing amount of interest right away. So many people remember it well.”

The moderately difficult out and back 5K and 10K races will begin at 8:30 a.m. at Pikes Peak State Park near McGregor, follow Pikes Peak Road, then head south on the Great River Road. Walkers are also welcome.

“The route is the same,” Boelman said. “There will be some nice views of the farmland and woodland.”

A kids fun run will also be included in the event, taking youngsters on a loop around the Pikes Peak parking lot.

GRRRR is a chip-timed event. Prizes will be awarded to first, second and third place in different age categories, as well as to the best overall male and female participants in the 5K and 10K. 

All runners and walkers will receive a long-sleeve shirt, goodie bag from local sponsors and a complimentary ticket to the traditional GRRRR breakfast of pancakes with chicken gravy. If chicken gravy is not to your liking, butter and syrup will also be available. For a free will donation, family and friends can enjoy the unique menu too. The breakfast will begin at 8:30 a.m. and continue until 10:30 a.m. Proceeds from this portion of the event will go toward adding a splash pad at McGregor’s Turner Park.

People can sign up for GRRRR now at Registration forms can also be printed from the site and sent in. In addition, forms can be picked up at the McGregor-Marquette Chamber of Commerce office, 146 Main St., McGregor, or McGregor City Hall, 416 Main St.

The McGregor-Marquette Chamber of Commerce is coordinating GRRRR with help from local volunteers, and, aside from the breakfast, will receive the event proceeds.

“The Kiwanis Club was the original sponsor, and the goal was to put on the best race they possibly could,” Boelman shared. “We’re working hard to make it a good race, up to the standards original organizer Don Smalley set years ago. Hopefully, it becomes an event that will go on for many years.”

Following GRRRR, head into McGregor and Marquette for the GRRRR Crawl and Poker Run. Get a “taste” of the area by trying Iowa beers and delicious food specials at local bars and restaurants. 

For more information about GRRRR, check out the “GRRRR Great River Road - Road Race 5K and 10K” page and event on Facebook, email or call the chamber office at (563) 873-2186.

To learn more about events in Marquette and McGregor, visit and check out “McGregor-Marquette, Iowa” on Facebook and Instagram.

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