downtown Grinnell Central Park
The half marathon and 5K start on Sunday morning in the city's central business district, just a block away from its Central Park. From there, runners head out on what is basically a counter-clockwise double-loop course for the half marathon, and which takes them both along the trails that wind through the city's largest park (Paul Ahrens Park) and through the campus of Grinnell College, whose founding back in 1846 made it the first college to be established west of the Mississippi River.
Though most of the race route features relatively flat terrain, runners can expect to encounter a few rolling hills, most notably on the northernmost part of the loop along 16th Avenue, between the mile 4 and mile 5 markers (and then again, on the second time around the loop, between the mile 11 and 12 markers).
After this stretch, the course flattens out again as runners make their way past the Grinnell College campus and Merrill Park, just before heading south back toward downtown along tree-lined Main Street, which is known for its beautiful Victorian-style homes.
After making their way back down to the intersection of Main Street and Commercial Street, runners then head through the starting line area and make a second loop around the route they've just run, to complete 13.1 miles when they cross the finish line along the intersection of 4th Avenue and Broad Street (the finish turns off Main just before reaching Commercial Street).
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