Raleigh, N.C. — As runners finally put the sweltering summer temperatures behind them in the coming weeks, there are new half-marathon and marathon options to provide a payoff for that challenging, humid training.
Two half-marathons and one marathon are new to the Triangle area this fall, as well as inaugural marathons at the coast and in the Piedmont.
The two half-marathon additions both are non-profit races: the Historic Hillsborough Half-Marathon on Oct. 2 and the Holly Springs Half-Marathon on Nov. 19. Both have companion 5K races.
Instead of a corporation or a for-profit company coming to the area to make a few bucks, both are a result of grass-roots efforts through running clubs in those two towns.
Each will donate all proceeds to charities.
A run through Hillsborough history
The Hillsborough Running Club, founded in March 2013, is putting on the first race. Believed to be the first half-marathon in that Orange County town in at least 20 years, most of the proceeds are going to Girls on the Run of the Triangle.
The course lives up to the race’s name, running by many historic sites, including a lap around the Occoneechee Speedway. Bull City Running Company has staged the Occoneechee Speedway Relay there the last two Januarys at the former dirt track, which was the site for NASCAR races from 1949–68. The timing of the race is ideal, considering a bridge over the Eno River that connects the Hillsborough Riverwalk to the speedway track was completed in late July.
The Hillsborough race has about 300 registered runners each for the half-marathon and the 5K, but officials expect the 5K numbers to go up as the race approaches.
Half-marathon a first for Holly Springs
You have more time to train for the Holly Springs race, which is two weekends after the City of Oaks Marathon. It benefits Kiwanis Scholarships, and proceeds will also be used to aid Holly Springs greenway improvements and expansion.
The response to Holly Springs’ first half-marathon, which will offer free child care, has been robust. The race’s field originally was capped at 600 total runners for both races, but that was passed late last week. Race officials worked with the Holly Springs Police Department to increase that number to 750, and they hope to increase it even more.
“We have an incredible running community in Holly Springs,” said director Ryan Monteleone. "The Holly Springs Run Club is nearly 1,200 members strong and growing rapidly. Because we are such a great running town with such a large run club, we decided it was important to organize a race that would highlight everything we love about running in Holly Springs.”
Monteleone said the idea for the half-marathon was hatched during one of their Saturday long runs several months ago.
Bombshell Beer Company will brew a limited-release custom beer, “Runner’s High,” for the event. The course includes roads, greenways and trails.
Cary marathon now open to the public
The Triangle now has five marathons, and all of them are in Wake County.
The newest, at least to the general public, is an interesting concept and not your typical marathon: the Cary Fire House Tour Marathon on Oct. 23, two Sundays before the City of Oaks Marathon. It’s Cary’s second marathon in addition to the Tobacco Road Marathon, which will be run March 19 next year.
Fit & Able Productions Inc., which conducts several other races of smaller distances and a triathlon, operates the race.
Technically, it’s not a new race. About 70 runners competed last year when it was limited to Cary Fire Department personnel, friends of firefighters and friends and family of fallen firefighters. This is the first year that it’s open to the general public.
The race is run in memory of Capt. Jon Schondelmayer, who died in 2013, with proceeds going to Children’s Flight of Hope. Along with the marathon, the event includes a marathon relay, a half-marathon, a half-marathon relay and a 10K. Each race starts and finishes at a firehouse, with the marathon, a point-to-point course, going from firehouse No. 6 to firehouse No. 8.
The course includes both greenways and streets.
Race director Alisa Wright Colopy said that the streets will not be closed for the races, but there will be support along the route, particularly at firehouses. While Cary Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) personnel will monitor some intersections and volunteers will be at other intersections, not all will be monitored.
“We are hiring police officers to assist with key areas, plus doing coning and partial lane closing in some locations,” Wright Colopy said.
Free transportation from start to finish or the reverse is covered with your registration fee for most point-to-point races. A few such examples in the state are the Outer Banks Marathon, the All-American Marathon and the Peak to Creek Marathon.
For this race, however, main race parking is at the finish line and transportation to the start is $10 for the marathon and half-marathon and $5 for the 10K.
Inaugural marathons set for Piedmont and the coast
Two new marathons outside of the Triangle will be run a day apart in October: The Cannonball Marathon on Oct. 15 in Greensboro and the Carolina Beach Marathon on Oct. 16. Those and the Cary race push North Carolina’s marathon total to 25.
The two races share a weekend and are additions to existing half-marathons but offer contrasting courses: Cannonball has some challenging hills while Carolina Beach’s course is flat.
The inaugural Carolina Beach Half-Marathon was run in 2014, and it was supposed to run in addition to the inaugural marathon in 2015. The event was canceled because of flooding on the course in the aftermath of Hurricane Joaquin.
The marathon course goes through Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. Much like another coastal North Carolina marathon, the Outer Banks Marathon, the only real incline on the course is a bridge. In this case, it’s the Snow’s Cut Bridge on U.S. 421, which marathon runners will cross twice. All races finish at Carolina Beach Lake Park.
It becomes the second marathon in that part of the state, joining the Wrightsville Beach Marathon, one of several March marathons in the state, which will be run next year.
The Cannonball Marathon course, which starts and finishes at County Park, fills a fall marathon void left when the Greensboro Marathon was canceled a couple of months before its schedule race day last October. The marathon is an addition to the half-marathon and 5K, which began in 2013.
R.L. Bynum spent 27 years in the newspaper business as a copy editor, and also was a sports writer for many years. This blogpost was first published on Raleigh & Company.