Magnificent melons: Watermelon Stampede enters 45th year

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–The weekend of Aug. 19 and 20, one of eastern Iowa’s oldest road races, the Watermelon Stampede, will return for two days of racing fun. Starting with the Children’s Watermelon Stampede Aug. 19 at the Muscatine Community Y and the full five and 10 kilometer races on Aug. 20, racers of all ages and abilities will find the right event for them, and possibly get to enjoy some tasty watermelon from the Island as well.

For the first time, the Children’s Watermelon Stampede will take place outside the Muscatine Community Y at 1823 Logan Street in Muscatine rather than at Muscatine High School, which will hold their annual Fall Sports Kickoff that same evening. “The Muscatine Community Y is a sponsor, and Brett Olson is a friend of sports and running and said, ‘sure you can use our campus,'” said Watermelon Stampede Race Director Dell Wagner.

Using part of the Y’s parking lot and some of their paved trails, kids up to 12-years-old can participate in a race tailored to them. Beginning at 6 p.m.. children four and under will run a 100 meter course and kids ages five and six will run a half mile course. All of the younger children participating in either of these events will receive participation ribbons and an entry into a free watermelon drawing.

Older children will have the chance to run in competitive races, with seven and eight; nine and 10; and 11 and 12-year-olds running half mile courses. The top male and female racers in each age group will each receive a free watermelon as a prize. Additionally, the top six male and female placers in each age group will get medals, and all racers will receive participation medals.

As in years past, the first 100 registrants will receive a Watermelon Stampede T-shirt. All kids will also receive a special 45th anniversary frisbee.

The following morning, teens and adults wanting to walk, jog, or run competitively will gather at the corner of 4th Street and Iowa Avenue for the Watermelon Stampede five and 10 kilometer races. Registration for participants who have not preregistered will open at 7a.m., and the racing will begin promptly at 8 a.m. Once all racers complete the race a, organizers will present medals to the top three male and female winners in each age group as well as free watermelons to the top racers of both sexes in each age divisions. Each racer will also receive an entry into a drawing for a free watermelon as well as 45th anniversary keychains. The first 300 participants will also get T-shirts.

Registration for the Watermelon Stampede has already opened, and anyone who would like to get in on the racing may sign up in advance by completing a registration from on the Muscatine Running Club’s website or by printing and mailing a registration form, with a check made out to the Muscatine Running Club, to Dell Wagner PO Box 45 Muscatine, IA 52761. Registration costs $25 for the five and 10 kilometer races and $12 for the children’s races, if registering after Aug. 16.

Though racers have many options for races to compete in, Wagner encourages people to give the Watermelon Stampede a try, both for its history and its unique awards. “I don’t know of any place else that gives out watermelons as part of their prizes,” Wagner said with a smile.

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