Another marathon within a hours drive from home? Yes, please! Another inaugural event this year, the All American Marathon, and Mike to Mike Half Marathon felt like a race that has been around for years. That is how well done race organizers did on May 4th, 2014. Superb event all around.
I signed up back in December to run this event. Registration costs in the beginning were fairly priced considering the averages these days. I think I signed up for around $70.
The race course was tough, incorporating many hilly spots as runners head out of the Festival Park start in Fayetteville, on the way to Ft. Bragg. Ft. Bragg is an Army Installation near Fayetteville, and home to Pope Air Force Base. Course support from spectators to volunteers was just amazing! Military vehicles and men and women in uniform lined the course in Ft. Bragg. It was truly a sight to behold. I felt so honored to be running there. I kind of felt like I was paying my respects to these men and women through my running, so it was extra special. Running for a reason, so they say.
Most folks never get the chance to visit an Army Base so the course is truly unique. With close to 3,000 runners taking part in the event, I truly believe it will just grow and grow from here. A race to repeat over and over again? Yes! I will be back.
Aid stations on this course were top notch! From mile 10 on, there was a stop every mile. When I say these stops were well supported, I mean it. I have never seen this many aid stations at any other race, ever. They were not small stations either, at least 20-30 volunteers at each and every one. There was no way to get dehydrated unless you just skipped the stops. No excuses.
The finish area was huge, filled with a stage for awards, plenty of vendors, and food trucks. Had I known that I would need a little cash to purchase anything at the post race festival, I would have tucked a few bucks into my shirts, but I didn't know. That being said, there was plenty of food/drink that was free, and a huge area to spread out in and relax after the finish.
The highlight of my day, well, besides crossing the finish line, was getting the chance to meet the recent Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi. It was such an inspiration to have him at this event, and to have him so graciously autograph my race bib and medal, and pose for a few pictures with me and my son. Yes, my son ran his second Half Marathon at this event, and loved it, too.
Runners from a reported 48 states and a few countries attended this inaugural event. So, even if you are not local to the area, don't be afraid to sign up for this event. It is a destination race that you wouldn't be disappointed in. I am very proud to have run this inaugural event, and proud of our armed services!
Full race recap with photos can be viewed here: http://wp.me/p3u1nG-1DV