- 3 miles/5K, 5 miles/8K, 6 miles/10K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon
- Road Race
- Event Website
First, here's a little background on the Outer Banks in case you're not familiar with the area:
There's no one city or town called "The Outer Banks". The term actually refers to a set of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina. To the east of the islands is the Atlantic Ocean and to the west is a set of sounds that divide them from the mainland.
The Outer Banks Marathon course is point to point and goes through the towns of Kitty Hawk (where the Wright Brothers took their first flight), Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, and Manteo. The Half Marathon starts in Nags Head and follows the second half of the marathon course. There's also a race called the Southern Six, which covers the final six miles. The times of the three races are staggered so that friends and family members who are doing different races will cross the finish line at roughly the same time and in some cases might even be able to meet up and run the last few miles together.
Outer Banks Half Marathon Start Line
All of the courses are beautiful. Here's a list of some of the things you'll see:
<li>Wright Brothers Monument (Marathon)</li>
<li>Town of Kitty Hawk / Kitty Hawk Bay (Marathon)</li>
<li>Town of Kill Devil Hills / Wright Brothers National Park (Marathon)</li>
<li>Nature Conservancy / Nags Head Woods (Marathon)</li>
<li>Jockey's Ridge State Park (Marathon)</li>
<li>Town of Nags Head (Marathon and Half Marathon)</li>
<li>Old Sound Side Area with historic architecture (Marathon and Half Marathon)</li>
<li>Washington Baum Bridge (Marathon, Half Marathon, Southern 6)</li>
<li>Village of Manteo (Marathon, Half Marathon, Southern 6)</li>
<li>The finish line for all three races is in downtown Manteo</li>
The course is mostly fast and flat. The Washington Baum Bridge is the toughest part. The bridge is a mile long and 82 feet high with a 650 foot climb to the top at about a 4% grade. The climb starts at about mile 9 1/2 for the Half Marathon (22 1/2 for the Marathon) and the hardest part of crossing the bridge isn't the climb itself as much as the cross winds coming off of Roanoke Sound that runners have to deal with as they get close to the top.... but when you do make it all the way up, the view is amazing.
Race day this year was particularly windy. This actually wan't a bad thing though because the wind was at the runners backs for most of the course. The cross winds on the bridge were still tough but not impossible to conquer. The temperature stayed in the mid 50's throughout almost the entire race and the the sky was slightly overcast, creating almost perfect running conditions.
The Outer Banks race directors always do a great job with their finisher's medal designs. They're good sized, heavy, have colorful neckbands, and always feature something Outer Banks related. In 2014, the medals featured the Bodie Island Lighthouse and this year they featured the Washington-Baum bridge. The 2015 medals also have a Roman Numeral X on them to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the race. Besides my half marathon finisher's medal, I also got a cool looking bonus medal with a shark on it for doing the Outer Banks 8K the day before.
After the race, there's a post race party Festival Park and along the streets of downtown Manteo. There's plenty of food, beer, and live music at the party along with shuttle buses that bring runners back to the start lines (since the courses are point-to-point).
Overall, this is a great race in an awesome area. If you're interested in reading more about it, check out <a href="http://www.runsandplaces.com/2015/11/race-recap-outer-banks-half-marathon/"my website</a>.