NOTE: Click on the image above to access an interactive course map at USA Track & Field website. I created the course map using the turn-by-turn directions.
I originally reviewed the new course back in January, but then learned from the race director that the course was not quite right at that point. So today I ran the correct course, which makes the race more challenging than the course I ran in January because of an additional long uphill stretch in the final mile.
I drove up to Ira Jones School in North Asheville. The Shamrock 10k course passes directly through the parking area at Ira Jones School early on in the race and I figured that would be a good place to start (I didn’t run the short distance from Asheville Catholic School to Ira Jones because that’s the same as it’s always been).
Before I started running, I clutched the turn by turn directions in my hand and drove the course so I could familiarize myself with the turns. [Click here for a PDF with the turn by turn directions].
After driving the course I wasn’t confident that I would remember all the turns correctly so I decided to run with the turn by turn sheet folded up in my hand. It’s a good thing because I needed to refer to it about five times. I was usually correct in my recollection but did so just to be sure.
I think the new course is just as challenging as the old course in a different way. The way I have described the old course is two miles flat, two miles of steep or gradual climbing, and then a very fast two miles downhill to flat to the finish. This new course features rolling hills with a few long stretches of flat-ish terrain, mostly on Kimberly and Country Club.
There are no “killer hills” in this race but there are three HELLO hills that will make you wake up and pay attention. The first HELLO hill is in the first mile. When you make the turn from Kimberly onto Country Club up there, it’s a tough climb. I could still run it faster than walking it, so it’s not too bad. But I know some of you rascals are going to do some walking there. The second HELLO hill is shorter but steeper and I’m not sure if I was shuffling faster than I could have walked so I suspect more of you rascals are going do some walking when you make the turn from Maplewood Road onto Griffing Circle in mile four. The final HELLO hill is in the last mile. It’s a long uphill pull on Country Club and you can see it right in front of you after making the turn off Griffing. It appears to go up and up and up, but it’s not as touch as it looks.
All in all it’s a great course. I’ve always enjoyed running that neighborhood and like some hills in my leisure runs, so it’s right up my alley. I plan to run the course again sometime in the coming weeks on one of those Saturdays on which there are no local races.