As the first Run CRANDIC approaches, it’s quite possible — even probable — that no one is more excited than Ara Ispentchian.
The race — Cedar Rapids to Iowa City — has been in the works for around a decade. The public announcement occurred last September but Ispentchian has been hearing about the possibility for about four years when the Marion Rotary half and full marathon became defunct.
“I had great hopes due to the running community in the corridor — Waterloo/Cedar Rapids/Iowa City and all towns in between — which is very strong,” he says. “The people who were involved are great leaders in this community and I had outmost confidence this would be a reality!”
While Cedar Rapids has plenty of options for shorter races, Run CRANDIC offers a full marathon, half marathon and 5K. Race day is Sunday, April 29.
To register for any of the events, click here. When you sign up, use code "BibRave18" for 10 percent off any entry.
“This totally fills a void of a local marathon,” says Ispentchian, left, advising participants to make sure to do hill training. “The expense of doing a marathon is not cheap, if you don’t have it local to you. There is travel expenses (food, hotel, etc.) and it adds up fast. It is nice to be able to do it in your city and not have to worry about hotel and other expenses.”
Recovering from ‘Iowa’s Katrina’
For Cedar Rapids, it’s another step in the rebuild since a flood struck the town in the summer of 2008. Nicknamed “Iowa’s Katrina,” that flood cost an estimated $6 billion in property damage.
“It is a great testament to how far this city has come since the infamous flood of 2008,” says Ispentchian, who moved to Cedar Rapids in 2005 from New York City. “With the flood Cedar Rapids has rebuilt itself to be quite the city with even more options available to its visitors and citizens. This is just an added compliment on what a great city Cedar Rapids is!”
The city has a burgeoning running club, No Regrets Running (NRR), led by Ispentchian.
“This was an offshoot of a bigger project called THE NO REGRETS PROJECT which aims to help and inspire others to live a full life by being active, involved in the community and knock off bucket list items,” says Ispentchian, who formed the club in March 2017. “NRR was started to help others get started in running or for existing runners to join like-minded people and get ready for races, get tips, expand their reach for new race types. We started with four people and now have over 290 members. Most are from Cedar Rapids and Iowa, but we have also had people join the group from Europe and Asia. It is amazing how Facebook advertises for you.”
Setting personal and community goals
Ispentchian is running the marathon on behalf of a charity called Let Me Run. He invites anyone to learn more about the charity or to make a donation at this link.
His running experience dates back to 2006, a year after his mother passed away.
“The year after her passing I woke up at over 320 pounds and grossly out of shape,” says Ispentchian, a former college athlete. “My wife and I were expecting our first child. I had to do something so I decided to give running a try. I was the athlete that detested to run even if it was 400 meters or less.”
He started out slowly, walking at first and then incorporating a walk/run combo until he could reach 3.1 miles without stopping.
“I did my first 5K in 2008 and never looked back,” Ispentchian says. “Each year that went by I decided to challenge my body with a new distance goal. To date I have done a 5K, 8K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon, ultra marathon (50K), and a sprint, Olympic and half Ironman. My goal is either a full Ironman or a 50-miler next.”
He has also set goals to PR this year in every race distance — 5K, 8K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon. While personal goals are important, he sees the bigger picture — inspiring others to run, especially Run CRANDIC.
“My message to anyone is something that was shared by a fellow runner and it is a quote by John Bingham, ‘If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter If today is your first day or if you’ve been running for 20 years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.’”