Now a few weeks past, I have just a few minutes to try to recapture some thoughts and moments from my second running of a huge Triangle event. The Tarheel 10 Miler and 4 Miler were run on the beautiful (and difficult) Chapel Hill streets on April 23rd, 2016.
An event that draws thousands of runners every year, we converged on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill bright and early that Saturday morning. For me, it’s about a 50 minute drive, which means I left the house before 6am. I think I was parking about 6:30, for a meet up with my son, and eventual meetup time with the pacers at 7:15. Everything about the morning was smooth, except for the temperatures. It was a bit warm. Anytime you schedule a race later than mid May around here, it’s a complete crap shoot as to the weather. It could be 50, it could be 70. We were flirting with race day temperatures just a tad too warm.
We met at the iconic Belltower on campus for photos and quick meeting. My first time pacing this event, but have paced two other races (both Bull City) for this team. With a new race course, which promised more of a flatter run, and the dreaded 1 mile uphill climb near the finish, I didn’t notice much about the new course that made it easier. In fact, I ran it faster two years ago. Laurel Hill is the finishing challenge, and after fighting the warmth of the day, and mile markers which were all over the place, I had very little gas left in the tank for that mile long uphill climb.
There were three of us pacing the 8:00 per mile group, including my son and another guy who I hadn’t met previously. Right from the start it was painfully clear that our Garmins and the mile markers would make this a difficult race to pace. Side note: please, mile markers need to be carefully mapped and placed on courses in the correct spots! We were off by almost a quarter of a mile as we reached Mile 1! No excuses for that. It left us wondering, and confused. We had no choice but to follow our Garmin pace, because after asking several runners during the race, everyone’s timing devices were all over the place. Needless to say it made for a challenging race. We made ok time, but often us pacers were not even together, what to rely on? Course markers? Garmins? We did our best. That dreaded hill at the finish nailed all of our coffins, and each of us were just slightly over 8 minute pace. It really couldn’t be helped. Funny, too, that I ran the race 4 minutes or so faster a few years back.
It was still really enjoyable though, and I always love pacing, and the interaction with runners. We had a good race. The only other negative I had for the new finish area was that once you left the finisher chute, there was no access that I saw to additional water. If I had known that, I would have brought a drop bag with a few bottles of water in it.
According to the website, there were 4,010 finishers in the 10 Miler. That’s a big race! My finish put me in the top 16%. Not sure if I could have done better on the day if I hadn’t been pacing because the weather may have impacted my speed. It was just too warm and sunny. The Tarheel 10 & 4 Miler is a very successful and huge event in Chapel Hill, and you should try it one day! UNC is a beautiful campus! They have pretty nice swag, too for finishing!