I decided to run the Morganton Freedom Park Half Marathon (part of the Ultra/Marathon/Half-Marathon event) as a beginning of the year motivator. I often get a little lazy from mid-December through mid-January and having a half-marathon on New Year’s Eve would force me to get some distance in during the holidays and get my running off to a good start in January. All of the races in this event are run on an approximately one-mile long asphalt path that winds through Freedom Park (so I’d be doing 13 laps and change).
When I arrived at Freedom Park, the Ultra Runners were already off and running, having started earlier in the morning. The Half Marathon and Marathon started simultaneously, promptly at 10 AM. I thought the lap format might become a little tedious for me, but the atmosphere helped make it more enjoyable than I imagined. With each lap, we cross the timing mat (to count our laps and ensure that we’ve run the appropriate distance). That area of the park is set up like a small base camp, with tents pitched by Ultra Runners and plenty of Ultra support team members (and dogs, always good for putting a mile on my face). Combined with a great variety of refreshments (water, Gatorade, soft drinks, gels, granola bars, crackers, pretzels, cookies, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hamburgers, veggie burgers and more) it was very pleasant.
I felt good and had a fairly consistent pace for the first six laps. But I wasn’t in tip-top shape and some yoga work that I had done the day before put a little too much emphasis on my adductors, making them sore for the second half of the race, forcing me to shorten my stride a bit. I hoped to finish in less than two hours, but didn’t quite make it, finishing in 2:02:35. Click here to see race details from my Garmin GPS device.
Something I anticipated with the lap format was being “lapped.” I saw that Josh Baker of Valdese, NC was running the half marathon and tried to do the math in me head while driving to Morganton from Asheville. How many times would Josh pass me? The answer is five (I think) and when I was approaching the timing mat at the end of my eighth lap I could hear people cheering for Josh as he was coming up toward the timing mat for his half marathon finish (about 1:13). I was also lapped twice by my friend Richard Hefner who came by to say hello (briefly) during my 5th and 10th laps.
All in all this was a great event from my perspective and my hat is off to David Lee of Lee Timing along with his family and volunteers for putting on such an enjoyable event. They spend about 36 hours or more onsite from start to finish. That’s what it takes to manage such a time-consuming and complex event. Well done.
Check out all the results at Lee Timing.