Unfortunately, some road racing traditions in Wake County has been lost over time. The Great Raleigh Road Race came to an end years ago and the Old Reliable Run is now much different and only one of the Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon’s companion races. But there are still plenty of race choices out there to enjoy, so many that the City of Raleigh limits the number of races each year to 95.
Here is one runner’s opinion of the best races in Wake County.
1Tobacco Road Marathon (plus a half-marathon)
9th annual race: March 18, 2018 @ Thomas Brooks Park, Cary
This is becoming as much of a March Triangle tradition (at least for runners) as watching the NCAA tournament runs of local teams. Run by an all-volunteer board with all of the proceeds going to charity ($130,000 this year), it is one of the few Wake County races that isn’t that hilly. There are some gentle hills in the last couple of miles, but mostly flat, beautiful miles along the American Tobacco Trail.
2Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon (and half-marathon, 10K & 5K)
12th annual race: November 4, 2018 @ NC State, Raleigh
While downtown marathons have come and gone over the years, this has endured — even through some administrative issues — to be a fixture on the race calendar. It’s your typical hilly Raleigh race but saves some of the more challenging climbs (which half-marathoners are spared) for the second half of the marathon. Next year will be the Old Reliable 10K’s 35th running.
14th annual race: February 3, 2018 @ NC State, Raleigh
This challenge for your legs and stomach and has gained so much notoriety. Running five miles — battling those downtown hills — and eating a dozen doughnuts halfway through sounds crazy. But not to a lot of people — 6,711 in 2017 — who savor the opportunity. The student-run race donated $190,000 to North Carolina Children’s Hospital this year.
24th annual race: April 7, 2018 @ Umstead Park, Raleigh
This ultramarathon is one of the county’s oldest races and has a 50-mile option if you aren’t ready to go 100 miles. There is a 250-runner cap to the race, which is run on a 12.5-mile trail course. You go around eight times in the 100-mile race and four times for the 50-mile race.
38th annual race: February 11, 2018 @ Dorothea Dix Park, Raleigh
This is the longest-running Wake County 5k and second-longest-running road race behind the Cary Road Race (which is one year older) and benefits veteran’s charities. It has been based in several Raleigh locations over the years, moving to Dix Park in 2013. It has always had a neat feature for a race run near Valentine’s Day: Every female finisher gets a red rose.
There are numerous other terrific road races all over Wake County, including the Race for the Cure. But those five are your best bets, depending on what sort of running challenges you desire.
So what are some of your favorite marathons or races in the area? Please be sure to hit us up on Twitter @919BlogNC or visit our Facebook page at FB.com/919Blog and let us know! We would love to hear from ya.
This post was created in collaboration with 919 Blog contributor R.L. Bynum for exclusive digital publication on 919Blog.com