First off, Race Across Durham is one of my favorite races of the year, and it’s right here in Durham, minutes from where I work everyday.
This was my third year running RAD, and was a much better race for me than 2018 — mainly because I felt ill on race day and struggled to enjoy the experience as I knew I would have otherwise.
2019 made it all better. Zach and I hadn’t done much trail running to get ready for this race, and were thankful to the course preview runs set-up by Bull City Running and Life Skills Foundation. I believe the second preview run may have been the first time on the Eno in 2019 for us.
Still, we’d decided our number one priority was to enjoy this race, so once the race had started we settled into a conversational pace and did just that.
You never remember the hills until you hit the bottom of it and then exclaim, “yeah I remember this hill now”. That happened multiple times along the course.
The route meanders through the trees, alongside the Eno River, gradually increasing in elevation as we head toward the Eno Rock Quarry.
Around mile 4 we hit the first aid station and stopped for a snack, a drink and a photo. I’m not sure we’ve ever ran a race this relaxed before, and it felt good.
Even though it had rained the day before, the trail was in good shape, not really any muddy areas that I noticed.
At mile 5 a surprise awaited us. There was an unofficial aid station set up with a box of beer sitting on a table. Everyone was just running past. Crazy, I know. Not us — nope. We stopped for some “trail magic”. Thank you very much to whoever left those out.
So we were half way there. The next aid station was not until mile 8.
In 2018 we were missing a bridge or two due to some flooding. This year the bridges were restored, although I kind of enjoyed running through the stream last year.
The last hill up toward the quarry is probably the toughest hill on the course, but it leads up to one of my favorite sections of the course — running over the stepping stones and then along a ridge between the quarry lake and the river.
We stopped and posed for the photographer before crossing the river, and were promised we’d “make the cover” — not even kidding. Maybe even modeling careers might be launched from this. Who knows?
However, it looks like the photo didn’t make the cut to the website, never mind the cover of anything! 🤣
The out-and-back section from 2017 was added back into the route this year, and while the section is not very technical we were beat by that stage and were glad to reach the turning point and run that last leg back to the finish.
We ran through the finish line together, my belly giving me a 1 millisecond advantage over Zach’s time. Lots of snacks and drinks available there while we waited for the shuttle bus back to the after-party. The oranges were amazing!
We didn’t have to wait long to get on a bus. I felt really bad for the driver though as she had to smell multiple bus loads of smelly trail runners all morning.