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Red Running Hood


We’re still a few months from spring, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see some central Iowans getting into the spirit. It’s about this time of the year when February ice storms form over the horizon, and only the bravest of souls throw on shorts and a T-shirt whenever the temperature jumps above 30 degrees.

The Red Flannel Run will begin on Saturday, Feb. 13 at the Wellmark YMCA.

The Red Flannel Run will begin on Saturday, Feb. 13 at the Wellmark YMCA.

So what can you do if you’re not one of the aforementioned? Just run it out.

The Red Flannel Run is the unofficial start of the running season in Des Moines and consists of 3- and 5-mile runs. Proceeds go toward the Wellmark YMCA Annual Campaign, helping to make the YMCA

“The Red Flannel run started 27 years ago by a group of YMCA members wanting to put together an event to help with the YMCA Annual Campaign,” said Amy Smith, director of marketing and public relations at YMCA of Greater Des Moines.

Since the event is scheduled for February, it was determined the most appropriate clothing for the run in the Iowa cold would be red flannel, Smith said, and participants have had a lot of fun with it over the years.

“The best part about the Red Flannel Run is that it gives participants an opportunity to show their creativity,” said Smith. “Some that dress up in costumes may be in full flannel gear from head to toe. Some wear pajamas, boots, parkas, fun winter hats, scarves, gloves, etc. Race participants who would like to be part of the contest should stop by the judge’s station before the event begins.

“It’s a good idea to wear layers that can be taken off and tied around your waist so you stay warm enough but don’t get too warm throughout the race,” Smith added.

The money raised from the Red Flannel Run continues to go toward the YMCA Annual Campaign. This fundraiser helps provide access for all and financial assistance to those in need in an effort to help strengthen the community. The Annual Campaign allows community members the opportunity to gain a sense of belonging and to achieve and develop relationships.

“We have a meal after the race for participants and hand out awards to the overall male and female runners along with prizes for the costume awards,” Smith said.

The Red Flannel Run is held regardless of the weather. The hope is that it is a warm, sunny day in February — but, obviously, there are no guarantees. Last year, the temps hovered around 0 degrees.

The best part of the event is seeing all of the participants dressed up and having fun together. Dogs are encouraged to run and dress up as well.

“This an event for all. It doesn’t matter if you run or walk; our goal is for everyone to enjoy the day,” said Smith. “The weather is always unpredictable, but participants have a great time and enjoy being out exercising in their flannel in the Iowa winter with friends, family and colleagues.” CV

Red Flannel Run

Saturday, Feb. 13
Wellmark YMCA
9 a.m.: 5-mile run AND 3-mile walk/run
$15 youth (12 and younger); $30 adult; $60 family
Late registrations will be taken on Friday, Feb. 12 from 4-7 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 13 from 6:30-8:30 a.m. Individuals can register at

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