Race time: 7:30 a.m.
Weather: 45 degrees, with full sun once it was up, temperature topping out in the low 60s. Perfect!
Bib pick up: On race morning an hour before the start, at a card table on the corner by the start line. 10-15 participants and race volunteers milling around, socially distant, wearing masks.
Parking: Ample street parking right at the start/finish line. Picturesque small town with a classic Main Street.
Porta potties: None! You could use the local fire station, gas station, or Dollar General. Or a tree in the woods.
Number of people in the half marathon: less than 50. (There was also a 5K and an 8K, with start times staggered 15 and 30 minutes after the half.)
Start line: most people in masks. A timing clock was set up. The race director had a megaphone, gave the course directions, and then released us with an “on your mark, get set, go!”
I took my mask off in the first 400 meters and tried to find my pace as the sun was coming up in our first mile.
The course: The first three miles on rolling hills along the valley floor (hence, Run the Valley Half Marathon!). Beautiful scenery, light fog lifting over fields of horses and cows. Farm houses, fences, tall trees. A short out and back; then, at the Moonset General Store (get your ice cream and locally harvested honey!), a right turn onto a road on which the rolling hills turned into steeper and steeper hills. At mile seven, you were no longer running up a hill, but up a mountain: Morrow Mountain, to be exact, over the Pee Dee River and part of the Uwharrie National Forest. Although the climb was difficult, the views were SPECTACULAR. AND WE WERE RUNNING A REAL RACE!!
Can you tell from my words that this was a fantastic day?!?!
At the peak of the mountain, you had the valley below you, as you ran around a small circle and then had the treat of running down the mountain (and trying to save your quads while doing so).
From there, you just had to retrace your steps back to the start line, enjoying the trees and the views as you descended back down.
Once back on the rolling valley road with two miles left to the finish line, my true work began. This is where the hard miles took over, and I had to fight to keep a pace.
Swag: long sleeve black tech running shirt with bright green and yellow race logo + other various ‘gifts’ from local businesses (shoe bag, manicure kit, ear buds, pen, etc.)--these were in bag received with bib before race start; at race finish you received a race branded sweat towel and a medal. Awards were given as runners crossed the finish line; I received a 9th place woman medal along with my regular race medal.
Water stops: three (that you passed six times) with volunteers and water bottles on a table for you to grab (no passing of objects). Course marshals: the local radio club provided volunteers at various spots to point you in the correct direction. Race Director: owner of a running shoe/vacuum cleaner store (?!) called "Vac & Dash."
Elevation Difficulty: Very difficult! 1,043 ft of gain and loss total over the 13.1 miles.
Overall Rating: Top Notch! I would definitely run this race again.
Attached photo: Before driving home, we drove back to the top of the mountain where we had run earlier. The views, again, were spectacular!