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DAM TO DAM: Runner Set For 35th Race

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Saturday is a big day for thousands of runners heading to Des Moines.

This is the 35th year for Iowa's distance classic Dam to Dam, and one runner has been there since the beginning.

John Beamer, 74, ran the first Dam to Dam in 1980 with his then eight-year-old son after a group of marathon runners started the race. He says, "If the group went to the trouble to put on the race, the least I could do is participate, and I didn't anticipate 35 years later I would still be doing it."

He was one of 342 the first year. Now, 9,000 runners take part in Iowa's distance classic. Beamer says, "There are four of us who have done them all. And, hopefully we'll all finish Saturday."

In the past, Dam to Dam has been a 12.4 mile race. This year, runners will have to go a little farther to cross the finish line.

Dam to Dam Organizers say the city urged them to change the route to ease traffic issues on the Saturday of the race. This year, Dam to Dam is a 13.1 half marathon. Dam to Dam Treasurer Joe Kobes says, "We've struggled with traffic control, and we wanted to work with city of Des Moines."

The race still starts at the Saylorville Dam and follows the same roads along the Des Moines River to the Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge in downtown Des Moines. That's where things change. Runners will follow the Principal Riverwalk to Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway. They'll head west to 15th St to Grand Avenue, and end at Western Gateway Park.

Kobes says, "That will open up that whole area for the 26,000 to 30,000 for people who want to enjoy ambiance of the race and fellowship and all of the good things that happen with it."

Kobes says one of the best places to watch the race with be along Martin Luther King Junior Parkway. Ten bands will line that part of the route.

Click here for route information.

Beamer's goal is to simply cross the finish line, especially since it is a half marathon course this year. He says, "When I was younger, a half marathon wasn't really a big chore. It's a bigger chore."