Race into the new year to stay fit

By:  Nicole Esplin           

It’s time to sign up for a road race.  Whether you’ve trained all year and you’re ready to test your fitness in a race setting or you want to sign up for a race to motivate yourself to reach a new level of fitness, sign up for a race now to ensure a spot and receive early bird discounts.

So which race should you do?  The fall and spring are big times for road races, and depending on how far you want to drive, you could probably find a road race to fill nearly every weekend in the year.  Racing every weekend would be economically and physically taxing, so I created a list of my 5 favorite races happening this spring in North Carolina.

1.  Isaac Dickson Hot Chocolate 10k (January 21)

Asheville, NC–Located in the beautiful mountain city of Asheville, NC, this race boasts one of the flattest courses in the mountain range.  Even better, all participants are offered complimentary hot chocolate after the race.  Heads up: the race is limited to the first 1250 runners, and registration ends January 19, so sign up fast!

2.  Myrtle Beach Marathon/Half Marathon (February 18)

Myrtle Beach, SC—Though it is a bit of a drive to the beach (and technically not in NC but in the Carolinas), this scenic course runs along the Atlantic Ocean and the race boasts a fun atmosphere that isn’t too intimidating for first-time marathon or half marathon runners.  And there is no need to leave right after the race, as the House Of Blues hosts a famous after-party every year so runners can celebrate their accomplishments.

3.  Tobacco Road Marathon/Half Marathon (March 18)

Apex, NC—Looking for a fast course to run a new personal record?  Run the soft crushed-limestone surface of the American Tobacco Trail for the Tobacco Road marathon or half marathon this spring.  The marathon and half marathon both take place on the trail, which has half mile and mile markers which are perfect for keeping a consistent pace.  The best part of the race are the benefits afterwards.  Enjoy two complimentary beers (if you are 21+), or a massage special of $1 a minute for as long as your sore post race legs beg you for.

4.  Angels Among Us 5k (April 28)

Durham, NC—The course winds around Duke’s well-kept campus, is decently flat, and is filled with courage exemplified by patients suffering and recovering from brain tumors.  The event is more than a race, as inspirational speakers share their stories to motivate the participants and share the amazing work doctors at Duke Hospital do every year to help improve and save the lives of cancer patients.

5.  Bright Night 5k (May 19)

Greenville, NC—Greenville’s East Carolina University is famous for it’s nightlife, and you can get a taste of the college town’s nightlife after this twilight 5k that winds through the historic neighborhoods surrounding the University.  The gun goes off at 7:30, which gives you just enough time to shower and prepare for a fun night out with ECU folk after the run.

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