Last weekend, my family and I traveled to Asheville, NC for the Asheville Running Experience race weekend. I love combining running and vacation and, since we’d never been to Asheville, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to check out a new destination. The weekend includes a ½ marathon, a 5K, a fun run, a trail run and a sort of scavenger hunt (this event looked really fun…maybe something to remember when the kids get older).
The plan was for me to run the ½ marathon in the morning and my older son, Big G, to run the kids run in the evening. This was his first real race so he was very excited.
The ½ marathon started at 7am Saturday morning. The weather was perfect when the race began. It warmed up as the miles wore on but never got too hot. I’m used to running in Columbia so it felt like a refreshingly cool morning. I knew the course would be hilly and it certainly delivered in that area. If I wasn’t running uphill, I was running downhill.
Running through the streets and surrounding areas of Asheville was quite nice. It was a pleasant mix of urban and rural. There were only a few areas that felt very industrial and made me feel like I might be lost. Luckily, I mostly stayed with a pack because I had no idea where I was most of the time. One of the benefits of not knowing the area…I couldn’t easily call my husband to pick me up which is usually what I think about doing around mile 9 or 10. I did still send my normal ‘I’m still alive’ texts along the course though.
Most of the course was on roads that were open to traffic. This was mostly okay. There were some very narrow roads which made me nervous but there were really not many cars on the road. Crowd support and on course entertainment was pretty non-existent except for at the start/finish line. There were a few people along the course playing instruments. It was hard to tell which were meant to be there and which might just happen to be playing instruments along the course. It is Asheville after all. There was a lot of instrument playing going on.
They apparently had Ultima as their electrolyte beverage on course. I didn’t try it and have never had it but am now curious. They also had Gu at two of the water stops. Gu isn’t my favorite but I grabbed some at each of the stops anyway because you just never know if you’ll need it.
Overall, my time was not great but, considering the hilly terrain, I felt like it was acceptable for my skill level. I finished in just over 2:27 and still felt pretty good the rest of the day. My main check for whether I was prepared for a race is whether I completely crash afterward. I was still about to sight see most of the day after the race, so I think I did pretty well.
Would I recommend the Asheville Running Experience ½ marathon? Yes. Will I be doing another race in Asheville? Probably not. I think I’ll stick to vacationing there. Hills are challenging and make me feel like a super human but they’re not my favorite thing. I think I’ll stick to a flatter course for my next race. After that…we shall see.
As an adorable aside, Big G’s race was awesome and he did amazingly. DH ran with him in case he got lost, freaked out or decided he was done running while he was out of our sight. He ran the whole 1km and got a ribbon for his efforts. He’s still talking about his race and can’t wait to do it again. It makes my heart proud.
Have you ever done a super hilly race? Did you like it?