If you are bullish on challenging races, the Bull City has hilly options virtually every weekend. Durham isn’t a destination city for racing if you are looking for a flat, PR type of event. But the race calendar is always full of beautiful courses that will definitely make the trip worthwhile, and most importantly fun and enjoyable.
Here in Durham, there rarely is a weekend without some sort of 5K that benefits a charity, and many times you have a few choices to work with. For example, every Saturday at 8 a.m. there’s a free 5K called parkrun at Southern Boundaries Park, one of Durham’s hidden running treasures.
But which races are the best and most popular in Durham? Here is one runner’s opinion.
1Bull City Race Fest (half-marathon, five-mile race and mile run)
Sixth annual running: Oct 21, 2018 @ Durham Bulls Athletic Park
The event began as a rebranded iteration of the Ramblin’ Rose Women’s Half-Marathon. It’s built a reputation as one of the better Durham races and includes five-mile and one-mile options. The half-marathon is a beautiful course through downtown, Duke campus and the Trinity Park and Forest Hills neighborhoods. There are some testing hills, particularly in the last few miles, on a course that starts and finishes on Blackwell Street outside of Durham Bulls Athletic Park. There is an elaborate post-race party, including food trucks.
2RDC Marathon (plus a half-marathon, 5K)
Second annual running: Nov 11, 2018 @ The Streets at Southpoint mall
The inaugural running in 2017 of the only marathon in the Durham city limits was a rousing success and is the rare Durham race with mostly gentle hills. There are a couple of daunting short hills toward the end of the marathon. Both races start and finish at the Southpoint mall, beginning with a loop around the parking lot before sending runners onto the beautiful American Tobacco Trail.
After one up-and-back going north on the ATT toward downtown, half-marathoners finish at the mall. Marathoners continue past the mall, going farther south on the ATT for another up and back. Ample parking eliminates logistical challenges other races face. There’s no need for shuttle buses or a bag check. All proceeds go to ALS charities. The 5K is the day before the marathon and half-marathon.
Tenth annual running: Jun 2, 2018 @ Downtown Durham
This has become a spring staple for Triangle runners. Some years, it’s a bit hot, and all years it’s hilly. The scenic course that takes you through downtown, Trinity Park and Old North Durham before finishing on the warning track of Durham Athletic Park, which was made famous in Bull Durham (but watch the bump of the bullpen mound!)
4Florence Forth Road Race (10K and 5K)
Sixth annual running: Mar 3, 2018 @ 700 block of Ninth Street
The volunteer-run race is named after Florence McDow, who died at age six of autoimmune encephalitis, and all proceeds go to the Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance. Both races start and finish on Ninth Street, with the 5K going around Duke’s East Campus. The 10K also includes East campus and runs through the American Tobacco Campus, Forest Hills and goes to the edge of Duke’s West Campus. The 10K course is hillier than the 5K course.
5Bull Moon Ride and Run (5K and bicycle ride)
Fourth annual running: Aug 4, 2018 @ Durham Bulls Athletic Park
It’s a rare night event and features a festive atmosphere before and after the race. It benefits Habitat for Humanity of Durham. In the middle of the summer, it’s nice not to have to deal with the hot sun. The bicycle run is a leisurely non-timed event, but the 5K is timed and offers awards. The course starts with a downhill, then a huge uphill to send you on your way to a rolling course typical of Durham.
Lots of fun runs in the Bull City
These five are just a few of the best local options for runners, and there are plenty of other quality choices, including Race 13.1 Durham in early December. The Carolina Godiva Track Club’s race calendar is a good resource to find a race if you’re looking for a way to test out your training on a specific weekend or just trying to explore different races. Just make sure that training includes hills!
So what are some of your favorite annual marathons or races in Durham? 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