Sometimes I’m an idiot.
Last year I went to North Carolina to run the Outer Banks Half Marathon. I got to town on Friday with plans to run the half on Sunday and no plans for Saturday other than heading to the race expo to pick up my packet. It wasn’t until I went out for dinner at a local seafood restaurant on Friday night that I overheard someone at the next table talking about getting ready for the race “tomorrow morning”. Wait…. tomorrow morning!? What!?
I quickly pulled out my phone and looked online to make sure that I didn’t have the date of the Half Marathon wrong. Turns out I was right about the half, but I had somehow missed the fact there were also a bunch of other races and events planned for Saturday morning. These races were not only posted on the Outer Banks Marathon website but they were also mentioned in a number of emails that had been sent out by the race organizers over previous weeks and months. I would have loved to have run one of the Saturday races, but somehow I overlooked them in pretty much every communication I had received about race weekend since I first registered for the half marathon….
Luckily for me, Outer Banks Marathon Race Directors Lynda Wood and Peggy Stoval were nice enough to invite me back for this year’s race after I published Southern Fried Running, which contains a chapter about why the Outer Banks Marathon is one of the best races to run in the Southeastern United States. This time around, I got a chance to run both days and make up for not noticing the Saturday races in 2014.
Here’s quick overview of the Outer Banks Marathon races:
There’s an 8K, a 5K and a family fun run on Saturday morning, followed by a marathon, half marathon, and six mile run on Sunday. There are also challenges available where runners who do races on both days can get extra medals at the finish line on Sunday. According to Lynda and Peggy, the goal has always been to have the event to be open to anyone with any type of athletic ability. I think they did a pretty good job with that with the wide variety of choices available to runners. Proceeds from the races go to two different not for profit organizations (The Dare Education Foundation and The Outer Banks Relief Foundation), so making sure that the event will attract as many participants as possible is great since it ultimately leads to more money going to two great causes.
The Outer Banks 8K has an out and back course with a few rolling hills which are only slightly noticeable. The course starts with a lap around the track at First Flight High School in Kill Devil Hills. After leaving the track, it heads through some local neighborhoods and then through Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve. There’s a turnaround point about a mile and a half into the woods, where runners head back along the same route and finish with another lap around the track in the opposite direction. The stretch that goes through the woods isn’t paved but it’s on packed dirt, which is pretty comfortable to run on. There’s one water table, but since the course is an out and back, runners pass by it twice – first at about mile 1.5 and then around mile 3.5, which is about right for an 8K.
Runners who do the 8K get a long sleeve t-shirt and a cool looking shark medal. (I think the medal design changes every year but it’s always something related to the Outer Banks). Runners who do races on both days also get a bonus medal after finishing their race on Sunday. Another interesting note is that the 8K and 5K times are staggered on Saturday morning (the 8K starts at 7am and the 5K starts at 8:45am). So anyone who’s really up for a challenge can do both Saturday races and then follow them up with one of the Sunday races.
Besides the races themselves, there’s also a big family themed party in the First Flight High School infield on Saturday that has food and drinks, bean bag tournaments, a climbing wall, face painting, photo ops with pirates and a bunch of other activities. The high school is also walking distance from the race expo, making things pretty convenient for runners who need to pick up their race packets for Sunday.
I have a lot more to write about the Outer Banks Marathon weekend because besides the 8K, I also ran the half marathon on Sunday and had an opportunity to host a clinic about Destination Races and Travel Tips for Runners at the race expo on Saturday. So I’ll follow this post up with a couple more about the rest of the weekend. I’m definitely glad I got a chance to go back to the Outer Banks this year to do one of the Saturday races – if you ever have plans to do the Outer Banks Marathon or Half Marathon, you should check this one out too.