Since Justin had to work on Saturday, we didn't arrive in Fayetteville until well after Saturday's packet pickup at the BCBS Blue Store had ended. One of the many things we like about the Race 13.1 series, however, is the option to pick up bibs on race morning, making it possible for people like Justin, who work on the weekends, to run the race regardless.
Also with no wait: the port-a-lets. When does this ever happen 15 minutes before a race?! Needless to say, we were right on time for the 7 am race start, all thanks to the smart planning of Race 13.1.
Accommodations & Places to Eat
Options for accommodations at this race were plentiful, reasonable, and close to the start. Within four minutes of the Cross Creek Mall: Courtyard by Marriott, Home2 Suites by Hilton, Wingate Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, and more. We chose the Home2 Suites, and were delightfully surprised by the cool factor of this hotel (as well as pleased by the clean factor). Our close proximity to the start meant a later wake up time, which always makes us happy!
Options for a pre-race dinner or a post-race lunch were just as plentiful as hotels. We opted for Carraba's post-race, feeling we had earned the right to consume fried ravioli. Other dining options included Newks Eatery, Red Robin, Texas Roadhouse, Mash House Brewery, and lots more.
The course was run almost entirely on Fayetteville's All-American Highway. Half marathoners passed hydration stations a total of five times. Each was well stocked with water and Gatorade, and manned by skilled volunteers. Because the highway had little to see in the way of scenery, and because NC in late summer can still have pretty brutal weather, run this race with a friend, if at all possible. Justin and I both felt like we were running the highway's long gradual hills uphill, both ways. Each of us having a running buddy would have gotten us out of our own heads and kept us entertained on the course. While fan support was limited due to the nature of the course, volunteers at the aid stations made every attempt to be all the fans runners would need by cheering enthusiastically and offering encouragement to everyone who passed by.
The course ended where it began, at the Cross Creek Mall. The inflatable Race 13.1 arch that marked the start and finish of the race was visible for the last 400 meters of the run, and it pulled me like a magnet towards the finish line. After crossing, runners were immediately handed a cold bottle of water, follwed by the Race 13.1 finisher medal. There were a few things that we liked about starting and finishing at the Cross Creek Mall. First, the mall (especially on a Sunday morning) offered plenty of parking for runners. As if there wasn't enough to worry about when running a half marathon, its extra nice to know you don't have to worry about finding a parking spot. Second, the Cross Creek Mall and surrounding area offered numerous post-race dining options, so there were burgers and fries to be had within walking distance of the finish line! Finally, the mall parking lot offered plenty of space for all the vendors that had set up shop at the post-race festivities.
We lingered at the Race 13.1 post-race festivities for the same reasons we lingered in Greensboro: Justin had placed in his age group, so we stuck around for the awards ceremony. Also, a large prize was being offered only to runners who stuck around. There was enough to do to keep us busy between my 9 am finish and the 10:30 awards ceremony. A Race 13.1 photo-op area was set up where runners could snap photos of each other in front of the series' "wallpaper." The BCBS Live Fearless trailer was back at this race, and we spent a few minutes telling our Live fearless stories, snapping photos in the trailer's photo booth, and answering trivia questions. Newk Eatery was providing unlimited free sandwiches to all runners and spectators, while Red Robin offered Dixie Cups of lemonade and brownie bites.
By the time we changed into dry clothes and made our way back to the race start, the awards ceremony had begun, and we arrived just in time to hear Justin's name announced. Winning first place in his age group earned him his first cash running prize, which we later put towards lunch at Carraba's.
When all was said and done, we left the race $25 richer thanks to Justin's running skils, and having enjoyed another Race 13.1 experience.
You can't go wrong with choosing a Race 13.1 event. Everything they do is fun and well-organized. Fayetteville had plenty of options for eating out and staying at a hotel for a reasonable price, close to the race start. With that being said, if you choose this particular race, be prepared for highway running. This won't offer runners the chance to see Fayetteville as a city, unless they choose to explore later on.
Tips for Running a Successful Race 13.1 in Fayetteville
1. Be prepared for some warm weather. This might make PR’ing difficult.
2. Be ready for very long gradual uphills.
3. Stick around for the awards ceremony and the potential to win a generous prize. Even if you don’t win, it’s worth seeing the reaction of both the crowd and the winner. It’s like everyone’s won the grand prize!
4. Try to run this race with a buddy. This will make running on the highway on a hot day more bearable!
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