I’ve never run a half marathon this late in the year, so when I signed up for the Race 13.1 in Durham, a December race, I knew I was likely looking at a cold run. The morning of the race it was a crisp 22 degrees. When I arrived there were about people near the starting line listening to a DJ Pdogg and doing warm ups lead by an instructor from O2 fitness. It was certainly a cold morning, but I liked the positive energy. I even saw Santa in the mix taking time to pose for pictures with runners. Just before the start I scanned the crowd it looked like a nice showing of runners. Ultimately I think the cold may have kept a few runners at home that day, but according to the final results there were roughly 870 half marathon runners, 276 10k runners and 150 5K runners.
The race started from the North Gate Shopping Mall off of Guess Road a little north of Downtown Durham. The course itself winded through a combination of streets bordering Duke’s East Campus and some extended jaunts along the Ellerbe Creek Greenway. I didn’t have a time goal in mind for this race. I just really wanted to enjoy the experience. Ultimately I decided to stick with the two hour pace group as I figured that would be a good steady pace I could realistically maintain and enjoy the run while at the same time making me working hard enough to work up a good sweat and keep my body warm.
The pace group I hitched up with was great and they kept us right at the 9:08 minute per mile pace the entire time. I was surprised as the race wore on that I was in fact quite comfortable with the temperature. It was actually so cold that at a few of the aid stations the water had begun to freeze. It never really got above freezing and I was expecting to be cold, but had dressed just right and felt great that morning. After the second mile we jumped on to the Ellerbe Creek trail and I settled in for the long run and took in the natural surroundings.
The out and back on the trail went by quickly and before I knew it we were already at the 7 mile marker making our way back to the streets of Durham. A word of caution, all races in Durham involve hills, and this race is no different. The final 3 miles of the race includes a nice little loop through one particular Durham neighborhood that felt like it had a hill at each turn. I enjoyed the challenge, and honestly they aren’t big hills. Just don’t expect a flat as a pancake course. Once that was behind us the final stretch of the race lead us down Guess Road and to a final lap around the mall to the finish line.
At the finish runners received their medals and were rewarded with a post race celebration that included free beer from local brewery Ponysaurus Brewing and food from Sassool Mediterranean Café. At the finish I caught up with my friend Eric who had just completed his very first Half Marathon. He certainly picked a cold day to do it, but had a great time and was all smiles at the finish!
I think that Race 13.1 Durham did a fine job for a race only in its second year. I think with a few tweaks to the course (maybe a few more miles on the streets of Durham vs. Greenway) and little more support along the route this could easily become another premier race in the Triangle and a fun holiday running tradition.
The next Race 13.1 Half Marathon will take place in Wilmington om February 19th. They will also be back in Raleigh holding a race on June 3rd. If you want to get a jump start on your 2017 race goals you can save $10 on your next Race 13.1 event with code Race2017 through January 2! Visit their website here to check out all of the 2017 races that are open for registration so far. Good luck with your training and here’s to another great year of running in 2017!
About Race 13.1
Race 13.1 is a local race organization operated out of Raleigh that operates multiple races across the eastern seaboard. They ran 20 events across 10 states in 2016. The company predominantly operates half marathons but they also recently took over operation of the City of Oaks Marathon and the Myrtle Beach Marathon.