Date: May 17, 2015
The Not So Normal race weekend is a collection of events benefitting local organizations in the Carrboro and Chapel Hill area. Multiple race distances include a 5k and 10k, which have both been held before, and the inaugural Carrboro half marathon. Perhaps the greatest challenge of running the half marathon is finding 13.1 miles through Carrboro for the race. The course manages to wind through several tucked-away neighborhoods while avoiding some of the more frequent Carrboro running spots, and covers a quite hilly terrain.
Course: I was pleasantly surprised by the course. For running 13.1 miles through Carrboro, I was expecting a lot of back and forth along neighborhood blocks or repeated loops, but both were minimal. There were a couple points along the route that weaved in and out of neighborhoods in a tedious manner, but it didn’t make up the bulk of the course. The back half of the course felt laden with hills, which, in my undertrained state, presented quite a challenge. All race distances finished right along Main Street (just past the new Fleet Feet store) with ample room for spectators and the finishing chute.
Aid: All aid stations offered water and nuun. I can’t remember exactly the number of official aid stations, but it felt like we hit water every 2-3 miles. The biggest aid station was placed at a high-traffic intersection on the route that runners went through three times over the course of 13.1 miles. Points for efficient planning!
Atmosphere: This race has a strongly local vibe to the point of feeling familiar and almost intimate. Names were printed on race bibs (for those who registered early enough), people sat out on their front lawns to spectate, and most, if not all, signs were positive and encouraging.
Organization: This was a little hit or miss. More so miss. On the back half of the course, which meandered through neighborhoods that were less familiar to me, course markings and course monitors were scarce. Several people veered off course at one point or another, and sometimes spectators had more accurate information on the course than the monitors. There’s some room for improvement next year.
Spectators: They were great! I always enjoy seeing people sitting on their front lawn to cheer on racers, and several people had hoses, sprinklers, or water guns to help with the heat. I was also quite pleased with the finish area. Coming up to the finish line, the final stretch of the course was packed with spectators, and transitioned nicely into ample space to grab water, bananas, and other recovery items.
Swag: Packet pickup was a bigger affair than I expected, but small enough to still be simple and straightforward. The personalized race bibs were a nice touch, and in keeping with the generally positive and supportive tone of the race, the medal was covered with smiley faces. Post-race fuel provided the standard water, protein drink, and banana, but was woefully lacking in chocolate milk.
Recommended for: Locals!
Overall thoughts: There are still some kinks to work out for the race events, but the local vibe, local crowd, and local impact make for a fun experience.