I consider this the “big event” in Western North Carolina running. In terms of participation, the half marathon is capped at 1,650 and the associated 5k is capped at 1,200. In 2011, 1,254 participants completed the half marathon and 633 completed the 5k. The event grips downtown Asheville and draws runners from far beyond the Asheville area and North Carolina. It has a reputation (well-deserved) as a scenic and challenging half marathon. The event has been run 12 times (my personal trivia, I’ve done half of those 12) so this year is lucky 13. Just some slight course modifications since last year. Nothing material, just a few tweaks to improve runner safety and avoid traffic. Here is the course (click here for the Citizen-Times Half Marathon Course PDF):
You can study elevation charts and talk to plenty of past participants about the hills, but the most serious uphill challenges are:
As you head into the 3rd mile, the grueling pull up Cherokee.
In the middle of the 7th mile, the long haul up Inglewood.
In the 10th mile, a very long (did I say long?) crawl up Lookout. If you haven’t run the course before or been up Lookout Road, I encourage you to at least drive it (if not run it) ahead of time. If you don’t know where it ends you’ll find yourself peeking around each of the switchback curves hoping that flatness is right around the corner (only to be disappointed over and over again).
What I like most about this course is its varied nature. You’ll never get bored.
My thoughts on making the most of this race, especially if you’re a “middle of the pack” runner like me:
Don’t start too fast. You’ll pay it back with substantial interest if you do.
Review the course ahead of time so you’ll know when you can relax and when you’ll need your ‘A’ game (mentally and physically).
Be ready for the long, gradually uphill home stretch on Broadway. The weather can make all the difference in the world here. It can be sunny and warm or foggy and cool.
Don’t worry too much about the nasty little climb up Walnut at the end. It’s just about over and it doesn’t make too much difference if you walk it or run it. I run it because I find it hard to start running again if I walk up a hill after almost 13 miles.
Have fun, thank the volunteers and participants. It will put you in a positive and cheerful state of mind. And that makes it fun.
I’ll be there and I hope you will too.
RECENT PAST RESULTS OF CITIZEN-TIMES HALF MARATHON