One of my criteria for selecting a race is how flat the course is — the flatter, the better (extra downhill portions are a plus). The Asheville Half Marathon was nowhere near flat. In fact, Ashville is located in the mountains, so more than half the course contained steep uphill sections. People were surprised I chose to do a race in Asheville instead of one of the many located along the coast. My reason?
I wanted to visit a city in North Carolina I had never been to before, and I had heard great things about Asheville — great beer, great music, friendly people… so that’s where I went, hills and all.
The course and post-race
This was the Asheville Half Marathon’s inaugural year. Despite being newbies, race organizers did an awesome job putting the event together.
The course started at Pack Square in downtown Asheville. The route took runners through the city streets, along the French Broad River near the River Arts District, and up steep roads displaying beautiful homes with stunning landscapes and gardens.
The first two miles were relatively easy — mostly downhill. The next few were more challenging, going mostly up. One of the nice things about the super steep portions though, was that it eventually led way to really nice, long downhill sections, which helped keep my finish time from becoming too pathetic.
My favorite part of the race was the entertainment — local musicians posted at every mile marker. It was pretty cool.
The race ended back at Pack Square. After I crossed the finish line and got my medal, I walked over to Pack Square Park where the post-race festivities were held. There was live music and lots of freebies (snacks, protein drinks, and beer!).
It was my first time hanging out after a race. Usually I head home as soon as I get my medal. But since this was an out-of-town affair, I figured I’d stick around. I made a couple of new friends (more on them and my travels in Asheville in a later blog post) before the race, so we met up afterward and hung out a bit. It was a good time.
The Asheville Half was a challenging course. I walked many parts of it, including the last 1.5 miles (it was all uphill!). Despite the difficulty though, I’m glad I did it. The weather was great, the course was scenic and fun, and the race was well-organized. I can’t say if I’d run it again, but I would definitely visit Asheville again.
Name: Asheville Half Marathon
Date: June 7, 2014
Race day weather: Sunny, breezy, mid-60s
Race start time: 8 a.m.
Course description: The course went through downtown Asheville, along the French Broad River, and up steep but shady paths that were located in semi-residential areas.
Race organization: The event was well-organized, with plenty of water stations and live entertainment throughout the course. The post-race festivities were fun and offered enough free goods to almost make it worth your $85.
Personal finish time: 2:33:30
Other costs: So many…
Airfare – $369
Hotel for 4 days, 3 nights – $440
Shuttle to/from airport – $35
Other transportation during stay – $50
Food/drinks – less than $125 (not bad for 4 days)
Total (including race fee) – $1,104
Ok, so it was kind of a little more than I expected to spend (it didn’t feel like I spent that much!). But this was also my birthday weekend, so I consider it a present to myself. The trip was originally supposed to be Friday to Sunday, but I added an extra day to explore more of the city (and flights were cheaper departing Monday instead of Sunday). Hopefully not all out-of-town races will cost this much. Currently looking into ways to budget better during this challenge.