In February, I stumbled upon the Ellerbe Marathon while searching marathonguide.com for some local races I could run as part of my CedarIsland40 training. I had never heard of the Ellerbe Marathon nor had any idea where Ellerbe, NC was. After reading the reviews, I was fully convinced Ellerbe was worth the 1.5 hour drive from Raleigh to get in some training miles. I submitted my paper registration via snail mail and was ready to go!
12 reasons why I loved the Ellerbe Marathon…
1. No traffic, no crowds, no lines, no nonsense, and plenty of parking. Race day packet pick up.
2. No Porta Potties, real facilities, plumbing, and running water!
3. NO line for the women’s bathroom. I was so shocked I had to take a picture. As you see there is no wait for the ladies room. BONUS!
3. 7:50 am we headed to the start. No maneuvering needed you just found your preferred spot among the 75 runners ( 3 walkers started early)
4. Mark Long, Race Director, gave some brief instructions, recognized some fellow veteran participants. Congrats to Rick French who was lined up for his 21st Ellerbe Marathon! After completing just one I can honestly say that is a big freaking deal! Hats off to Rick! No timing chips, not race mats, Mark set us on our way with a “Ready, Set, Go” Simplicity at its best!
5. 26.2 rolling miles! Minimal to no traffic. Majority of the traffic were the volunteers keeping an eye on the runners.
6. Simple…run into traffic and follow the yellow arrows. Admittedly, I was a little nervous being responsible for finding my way along the course but it was very well marked with yellow arrows.
7. What comes up must go down! Awesome downhill segments. Great reward for the many uphill climbs.
8. Awesome aid stations and super friendly volunteers. ICE cold water, oranges, pretzels, etc. Extra Bonus points for ICE cold water!
9. Sheriff assistance at major road crossings/intersections (there were two the entire 26.2 miles) You just have to love that this is considered a major road crossing! In all seriousness, I think it is awesome that Mark and Jerry had the Shefiff department monitoring these crossings ensuring our safety. THANKS!
10. More downhill! Trust me it is a VERY WELCOME site along this course. I was really excited for this one in the last 3-4 miles.
11. Post race grub! Good ole southern fare…chicken and dumplings, role, and sweet tea! It was super yummy protein and carb reload.
12. Super nice laid back friendly runners! I met some really cool people. Early in the race, I recognized Clay, a fellow blogger whom had commented on one of my previous blog post. We made the connection, chatted a bit, and covered some of the early miles. I eventually dropped back, but always had Clay in my sight. Around mile 11, I met up with David. We ran, (walked) and chatted for the next 12 miles. Wow, the miles just flew by! Thanks David I really enjoyed your company! David and I , always had Clay in our line of sight. We joked he was our unofficial pacer.
You simply cannot go wrong with Ellerbe. I approached this marathon( #16) as a training run with support. I was very relaxed, not worried about negative splits, pace etc. I walked the hills and whenever I was tired. I felt great! With my approach, I was able to take it all in and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. It was a beautiful day! It heated up into the low 70’s towards the end but the course offered lots of shade so it was bearable.
The course is challenging. Of my 16 marathons, this was the most difficult from a course/elevation perspective. My opinion is that Ellerbe is much more difficult than Big Sur. I lost my garmin data ( not really sure how this happened) from Big Sur so I cannot compare the elevation charts side by side.
If you are looking for a challenge, or wanting to push your comfort zone give Ellerbe a try. I promise you will not be disappointed!
Due to my Ellerbe participation, I was unable to run Ella’s Race. In Ella’s honor, I wore her favorite colors of pink and purple and dedicated my miles in her memory. When the miles got tough, I would reflect on Ella’s relentless fight against her cancer. I know Ella was shinning down on all of us on Saturday! Please consider a donation to The Cure Starts Now Foundation…Curing Cancer, One Child at a Time