Running Reviewed: The Asheville Half Marathon

This weekend marked my first half marathon in years. The last long distance race I had completed was the Charlotte "Thunder Road" Marathon (an awful name in my opinion) almost 3 years ago. I hurt my knee majorly in training for that race + took a fairly good hiatus from running. But working at Fleet Feet here in Raleigh has given me new motivation in my running as well as a new education. I've learned great new things from my co-workers + customers in my experiences there.

But onto the race. Citizen Times Asheville Half Marathon. It was my 3rd time in the Asheville half + I had heard just before the start that the course had changed dramatically...for the worst. That apparently included some brutal hills. And brutal indeed. You hit a solid gradient after the first mile climbing from Charlotte St. up towards the back half of Town Mountain. The rest of the course weaved its way through the Grove Arcade section of North Asheville before eventually working down to highway 19/23 (near the French Broad river) and back up one of the hardest hills of the course in Lookout Rd. just behind the UNCA campus. The last mile and a half or so of the course is all up hill and if you have ever been to Asheville and walked up Walnut St. you will know that it has a ridiculous slope. You take a right onto Walnut with less than half of a mile left in the race. There's no kick, just straight up. You get to the top of Walnut and mile 13 is within grasp. All you want to do is stop.

But I saw my watch read 1:25:03 and my heart jumped. My PR was 1:33. I had to find some kind of kick + my legs found something left + finished in 1:27. I was stoked to say the least. I had just arrived in Asheville at 3:45 AM after playing a great show in Raleigh with Jack the Radio. My expectations had been very low. This isn't the kind of course you PR, but then again this was my fourth half marathon. And I had some great motivation @ Fleet Feet to thank as well as some great good luck cheers from many of you that read this blog.

Overall, the Asheville Half was an extremely well run (no pun intended) event. Staff were stationed at every turn + water stations graciously placed at every mile (almost). But if you don't like hills...well...let's say this just isn't your race. The hills were steep and quick for the most part, but the "dramatic" changes to the course layout brought in longer gradients in Lookout Rd. (see the map above around mile 9). More importantly, race participants were rewarded with two Highland Gaelic Ales at the finish.

It never tasted so good.


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