- 5 miles/8K, 50K, 50 miles, Relay
- Trail Race
- Event Website
My team of 7 ran the 50 mile relay and really enjoyed the whole experience. The day went by so quickly! We intend to do it again next year and camp overnight, preferably with an RV.
The Southern Tour was a small race (maybe 500 runners total?) held on a large undeveloped piece of property right outside of Wilmington. The start, finish, and music were at the edge of a field where people camped and parked their cars. They kept a bonfire going all day, and many people brought their own fire pits, grills, chairs, tents, tarps, etc. We all set up camp, even those who were just there for the day. The music was awesome - not too loud and nothing obnoxious - just good old classic rock. They had a few food trucks but they apparently ran out of food early on. They even ran out of beer at one point but they brought in more. We all really enjoyed hanging out, talking to other teams, and getting up to cheer each of our team members as they finished.
The relay is broken up into 5-mile legs, each of which is a loop around the property and back to the starting point, where you hand off your baton to the next person. We each ran one loop, then 3 of us ran a second, but you can split up the legs any way you want to. The trail itself was beautiful, running through a maritime forest with occasional views of the marshes and Intercoastal Waterway. The trail was also in fairly good condition, with the exception of a few mud/water crossings which deteriorated throughout the day. But most of the water crossings were spanned by boards, and there were only one or two places where I couldn't avoid getting my feet wet and muddy. In one place, you have to walk across a log to cross a creek, but the log is very stable, and the race organizers even leveled off the top of the log and installed a rope to hold while crossing the log. Part of the trail was hard packed fire road while part appeared to be newly bush-hogged through the woods with a softer surface but still not very technical. There were some small ups and downs, but overall not much elevation change. There was one water stop, about midway.
I ran first and seventh, and ran well both times. Because of the good trail conditions, I was able to run faster than my usual trail pace, but still slower than my road pace. Because I ran the first leg, I was in a crowd at the start, but it quickly thinned out, and that's really the only time there were many others around me. In most places the trail was wide enough to pass people, and I never got stuck behind a slower person. I was afraid there would be a hold up at the log crossing, but it didn't seem to slow people down. When I ran the second time, the baton hand-off was a bit nerve-racking because it was very loud in the tent and difficult to hear when they called team numbers as team members approached.
Other than a couple very minor issues which I suspect will be fixed next year (this year was the inaugural race), I think the race organizer did an excellent job. The first issue was that there weren't enough portipottis for the number of people - there should have been 4-5 times as many. The ones they had were full by mid-day and had to be pumped out. The second issue was the time cut off. Because they didn't want anyone running the course in the dark (which is understandable), a team's last runner had to be on the course by 5:00. In order to make the cut-off, every team member had to average 11-minute miles, so about a third of the teams didn't make the cut-off. If you knew you wouldn't make the cut off, they let the last 2 or 3 team members run together to make sure everyone got to run. Hopefully next year they will start earlier so more teams will have a realistic chance of finishing.
There was no expo - just packet pickup and pre-race meetings at the race site the day before the race.
My advice: Arrive early enough on Friday to walk the course, so you'll know what to expect on Saturday. Be prepared to get wet and muddy. Figure out what you'll need to be comfortable outside all day, and take it all with you, since you can't enter and exit the race site easily. If the weather permits, it would be great to camp overnight, so you can relax and enjoy the post-race brew and your last runners can enjoy it as much as the earlier runners.