Course Details

The Course

Starting at sun up from the Bell Tower of Jefferson, Iowa, seven runners and a van take on the diverse and scenic course as they make their way to a downtown Des Moines finish and post-race celebration by sun down. The 75ish mile course is broken into 17 stages and a team finish with each runner taking on two to three stages. Stages range from about 3 to 5+ miles on a mixture of bike trails, paved roads and gravel roads. You won’t want to miss this event that combines running in beautiful central Iowa landscapes, outrageous costumes, memorable van rides with your friends and a massive post-race shindig in downtown Des Moines. It all adds up to 1 unforgettable day.

Course Updates: 

If you have run multiple years of the Market to Market Relay Iowa, you’ve probably noticed that the course often changes slightly from year to year. Sometimes these changes are minor and sometimes they are major. The reason for the changes ranges from course improvements to changes due to natural elements, infrastructure, growing cities, or construction.


2024 Race Updates (last updated of 5.10.24):

  • Linden to Redfield: The trail bridges are being repaired in this section of the course. For 2024, this section will be a “Time Out” where all runners get into the team vehicle in Linden and will re-start in Redfield. Runners will run over a timing mat in Linden to pause the team time and will re-start in Redfield, also by passing over a timing mat.
  • Windsor Height to Ashworth Park and Ashworth Park to Gray’s Lake: There will be a running detour on this section due to scheduled construction on the Bill Riley Trail. See Interactive Course Map
  • As always the Race Guide will have the final course maps and driving directions. We will keep this section as up-to-date as possible. 

  • Minor Course Change from Race Guide (5.10.2024)

     Redfield to Kennedy Station: Runners leaving Redfield will immediately follow an in-town route to avoid trail construction. The route is well marked with arrow signs and cones but it will reduce the stage length to 4.30 Miles. See updated route here: https://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/129323725/

     Walnut Hills Elementary to Clive: Runners leaving Walnut Hills Elementary will go under 156th Street at approximately 0.40 miles. The route is well marked with arrow signs and the length will stay the same. See updated route here: https://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/2892665485/  


Stage: 1 | Jefferson to Winkelman Switch
Distance: 4.4 Miles

Kicking off the day from the epic start line in Jefferson, runners head east on city streets before turning south onto the paved Raccoon River Valley Trail south. You’ll cross the Raccoon River on the newly restored bridge, taking the trail all the way to the Winkelman Switch exchange point.. This exchange is named for after Jacob Winkleman, a nearby pioneer farmer.


Stage: 2 | Winkelmans Switch to Cooper
Distance: 3.4 Miles

Leaving Winkleman’s Switch, runners continue south on the Raccoon River Valley Trail towards the next exchange point at Cooper, an unincorporated community in Greene County. Fun facts: In 1981 an international search to adopt the 51st citizen of Cooper landed residents on The Tonight Show Starring Johny Carson. The publicity that followed generated a crowd of nearly 12,500 people in the town for the weekend event.


Stage: 3 | Cooper to Herndon
Distance: 5.4 Miles

Leaving Cooper, runners continue south on the Raccoon River Valley Trail towards the next exchange point at Herndon, an unincorporated community in Guthrie County. Fun Fact: Herndon was laid out in 1881 and is the junction where the “North Loop” of the trail comes in from the east.


Stage: 4 | Herndon to Yale
Distance: 4.9 Miles

From Herndon, runners continue south on the Raccoon River Valley Trail towards the next exchange point near the grain elevators in the small town of Yale. This stage has a slight uphill grade. Fun Fact: Frank Moore, class of 1942 at old Yale High School went onto Yale University, where he went on to be an instructor. He is the only known resident to go “Yale to Yale”.


Stage: 5 | Yale to 190th Street
Distance: 2.9 Miles

Runners continue south from m Yale on the Raccoon River Valley Trail towards the next exchange point located at the intersection of 190th Street. This stage is flat and fast.


Stage: 6 | 190th Street to Panora
Distance: 2.8 Miles

From the exchange point on 190th Street, runners continue south on the Raccoon River Valley Trail towards the next exchange point in the town of Panora. This short stage has a slight downhill grade. Panora has many services for teams near the exchange point including, grocery store, gas station and quick food options. Fun Fact: The curious name of Panora stems from early pioneers exclaiming, “What a beautiful Panorama!” upon viewing the site of the current town from a nearby hillside.


Stage: 7 | Panora to Linden
Distance: 5.7 Miles

Leaving Panora, the topography and scenery begins to change. The trail becomes more tree lined and the terrain more hilly. This is a longer, but scenic stage. Runners will cross several paved and gravel roads as they slice southeast now towards the town of Linden and the next exchange point. Fun Fact: The town is named for its many linden trees.


2024 Time Out

Linden to Redfield

Due to trail and bridge construction, the running route between Linden and Redfield will not be used in 2024. Runners will stop in Linden and get into their team vehicle to drive to the Redfield Exchange Point. Next runners will re-start in Redfield.

Stage: 8 | Redfield to Kennedy Station
Distance: 4.3 Miles (updated for 2024 construction)

At Redfield, the trail turns east toward Des Moines. On the way out of town be sure to notice the restored Redfield Depot. This stage is mostly flat. You will meet your teammates at the next exchange point called Kennedy Station in Dallas County. You wouldn’t know it today, but Kennedy Station was a thriving and prosperous community in the late 1800’s and boasted a post office, depot, grain elevator, lumberyard, stockyard and blacksmith. Today, just a depot sign marks the location. Check it out!

STAGE RUNNING MAP (link updated for 2024 construction)

Stage: 9 | Kennedy Station to Adel
Distance: 5.1 Miles

Leaving Kennedy Station, runners continue east on the Raccoon River Valley Trail towards the next exchange point. This mostly tree line stage crosses Panther Creek and passes the local brick plant before arriving in Adel. Fun fact: Nile Kinnick, 1939 Heisman Trophy winner for the University of Iowa was from Adel.


Stage: 10 | Adel to Ortonville
Distance: 4.0 Miles

Runners leave Adel headed east on the Raccoon River Valley Trail towards the next exchange point. Before leaving town, runners will deviate from the trail to the brick streets near the fabulous Dallas County Courthouse. Rejoining the trail, runners will cross the Raccoon River on via the Pratt Pony Truss bridge and continue their journey toward the exchange point at Ortonville. Fun Fact: Ortonville is named for the Orton Family, who owned a traveling circus that wintered in this area in the early 1900’s.


Stage: 11 | Ortonville to Waukee
Distance: 4.6 Miles

From Ortonville, runners make a beeline for the outskirts of Des Moines. This is the last pastoral stage and concludes in the heart of Waukee. This stage is mostly flat and is the last stage entirely on the wonderful Raccoon River Valley Trail.


Stage: 12 | Waukee to Walnut Hills Elementary
Distance: 4.6 Miles

Runners will head north out of the exchange point and snake through residential areas on local bike trails. About the one mile mark, runners will turn off of the trail/sidewalk adjacent to Bowman Drive and head north on the trail system through Fox Creek Park. After passing Grant Ragan Elementary School, runners will cross Douglas Parkway and turn right (east) to follow the trail on the northside on Douglas Parkway. At about mile 1.75, runners will turn left (north) on the trail adjacent to NE Westgate Drive. At about mile 2.25, runners will turn east to follow Berkshire Pkwy. Runners will crossing over NE Alice Road on Berkshire Parkway and continue along Berkshire Parkway until they rejoin with Douglas Parkeay. Runners will turn left on the trail along Douglas Parkway and take that trail to 156th Street. They will turn left onto the trail along 156th Street. After crossing over Little Walnut Creek, runners will turn left on a sidewalk into a neighborhood on Aurora Avenue then turn right onto a spur towards the exchange point at Walnut Hills Elementary School.


Stage: 13 | Walnut Hills Elementary to Clive
Distance: 5.8 Miles

Head south from Walnut Hills Elementary School through the neighborhood to rejoin the trail along 156th Street. Turn left (east) onto the trail along Douglas Parkway crossing NW 156th Street at the pedestrian cross. Wait for the pedestrian cross light to turn green, staying on the north side of Douglas Parkway. At about mile 2.0, runners will head north briefly to access the Bob Layton Trail on-ramp and quickly turn left to head south on the Bob Layton Trail. Around the 4.0 mile marker, the trail goes under Hickman Road and runners continue east via the trail. Runners will cross 114th St to head south and make a short dash across a grass field to the exchange point on the east side of the Clive Aquatic Center Parking lot.


Stage: 14 | Clive to Windsor Heights
Distance: 2.8 Miles

Head north on the Clive Aquatic Center access trail out of the exchange point. After crossing the trail bridge over beautiful Walnut Creek, turn right (East) onto the Clive Greenbelt Trail. Follow the main Clive Greenbelt trail all the way to the exchange point.


Stage: 15 | Windsor Heights to Ashworth Park
Distance: 3.8 Miles

From Windsor Heights, this continues on trail along Walnut Creek towards downtown Des Moines. Overall this stage is fast and flat. Runners take an up-hill spur towards the end of the stage to meet their next runner at Ashworth Park. Fun Fact: Ashworth Memorial Pool opened to the public in 1926 and originally had a sand deck and gas lamps.


Stage: 16 | Ashworth Park to Gray’s Lake
Distance: 4.5 Miles

2024: From Ashworth Park, runners will head north to Grand Ave and take the sidewalk along Grand Ave east until connecting with the sidewalk heading south along Fleur Drive. Shortly, runners will connect with the Meredith Trail connecting into the trails at Gray’s Lake and towards the exchange point on the south side of Gray’s Lake.

Non-Detour Years: From Ashworth Park, runners will dash downhill down the trail spur to rejoin the main Bill Riley Trail. They will soon enter Water Works Park, crossing over the Raccoon River Valley Trail and turning towards the exchange point near Gray’s Lake.


Stage: 17 | Gray’s Lake to Court Avenue Plaza
Distance: 4.1 Miles

This is the final stage! Runners will navigate the trails along north shore of Gray’s Lake before returning to the Meredith Trail to head east toward downtown. At Principal Park stadium, runners turn north and make the final dash along the Des Moines River to the Team Finish. The finish line and golden dome of the Iowa State Capitol building are both well within view!



Team Finish | Court Avenue Plaza to Court Avenue Bridge
Distance: 0.1 Miles

You did it! Welcome to Des Moines. Join your entire team and make a sprint to the finish line on the Court Avenue Bridge. It’s now time to celebrate your accomplishment at the Post-Race Shindig in the Historic East Village. Congratulations!


Runner Matrix

 Runner Leg 1 Miles/Rating Leg 2 Miles/Rating  Leg 3 Miles/Rating Total Miles
1 Stage 1 4.4 M Stage 9 5.1 EM Stage 17 + TF 4.1 E 13.6
2 Stage 2 3.4 E Stage 10 4.0 E 7.4
3 Stage 3 5.4 EM Stage 11 4.6 M 10.0
4 Stage 4 4.9 EM Stage 12 4.6 M 9.5
5 Stage 5 2.9 E Stage 13 5.8 H 8.7
6 Stage 6 2.8 E Stage 14 2.8 E 5.6
7 Stage 7 5.7 H Stage 15 3.8 EM 9.5
8 Stage 8 4.7 M Stage 16 4.5 M 9.2


 Runner Leg 1 Miles/Rating Leg 2 Miles/Rating  Leg 3 Miles/Rating Total Miles
 1 Stage 1 4.4 M Stage 8 4.7 M Stage 15 3.8 EM 12.9
 2 Stage 2 3.4 E Stage 9 5.1 EM Stage 16 4.5 M 13.0
 3 Stage 3 5.4 EM Stage 10 4.0 E Stage 17 + TF 4.1 E 13.5
 4 Stage 4 4.9 EM Stage 11 4.6 M 9.5
 5 Stage 5 2.9 E Stage 12 4.6 M 7.5
 6 Stage 6 2.8 E Stage 13 5.8 H 8.6
 7 Stage 7 5.7 H Stage 14 2.8 E 8.5
 Runner Leg 1 Miles/Rating Leg 2 Miles/Rating  Leg 3 Miles/Rating Total Miles
 1 Stage 1 4.4 M Stage 7 5.7 H Stage 13 5.8 H 15.9
 2 Stage 2 3.4 E Stage 8 4.7 M Stage 14 2.8 E 10.9
 3 Stage 3 5.4 EM Stage 9 5.1 EM Stage 15 3.8 EM 14.3
 4 Stage 4 4.9 EM Stage 10 4.0 E Stage 16 4.5 M 13.4
 5 Stage 5 2.9 E Stage 11 4.6 M Stage 17 + TF 4.1 E 11.6
 6 Stage 6 2.8 E Stage 12 4.6 M 7.4
Stage Difficulty Ratings

E= Easy EM= Easy Moderate M= Moderate MH= Moderate Hard H= Hard
Leg ratings are 90% based on elevation and surface and the remaining 10% is based on distance. Distance is rounded to the nearest tenth of a mile.