In honor of the 16th annual Virginia Creeper Marathon in quaint Abingdon, VA, I’m recapping my adventures running the race back in 2007 when I joined about 100 other marathoners to run in a drizzly off-and-on rain.
I signed up for the $10 race (yes, only $10) after one of my clients hired me to help train him for the race in 2006. He had a very positive experience, so I decided to run the race the following year.
We arrived at the race about an hour before start time so I could pick up my race packet. As we pulled into the parking area, I was handed a commemorative marble paper weight. The race organizers chose to hand those out in lieu of finisher’s medals. We got a good chuckle out of it and considered driving away with the paper weight in hand, but who was I kidding, I had to earn the right to display it on my desk!
Packet pick-up was a breeze, which is usually the case at smaller races.
The race started as a mile out-and-back on a little country road and then it turned onto the Virginia Creeper Trail for the remaining 24.2 miles. The Virginia Creeper Trail runs along an old railroad bed with a packed cinder surface, and for the most part is relatively flat.
My youngest son Daniel needed service hours for the National Honor Society and volunteered at one of the water stations. Bill also volunteered and took pictures of all of the runners in several different locations, so photo credits in this post go to him!
Because the race course was set up with three out-and-backs (at least one was repeated), we passed a central start/finish area at miles 2, 9, 18, and 25. We were able to leave our bags in a bag corral area and get needed supplies whenever we ran past, which ended up being a very convenient perk of the race!
There were a few railroad trestles that we ran across. The soft cinder course felt great on the legs, but the wooden bridges were heavenly!
I ran the first half of the race with our friend Jimmy, and we ran a 2:12. He credits me into holding him back so he was able to run reverse-splits. At the half-way point he pulled ahead and ran a 1:50 second half, and set a new PR by two minutes! I finished in 4:35:02.
The majority of the sights along the trail were beautiful. While Jimmy and I were running together we ran past beautiful farms dotted with cows. I taught Jimmy more about cattle than he ever dreamed of learning, and I hope he can still distinguish between the different breeds. The race course also took us past the Middle and South Forks of the Holston River, past a golf course, and many beautiful homes.
I’m including this picture because you rarely see runners sprinting like this in a marathon; and Bill caught him in full stride. His bib is pinned to the side of his right shorts leg, so I know that he was one of the racers, and not just out for a short Sunday morning sprint. If only I had such great kicks at the end of my marathons!
Overall this was a great little race with 103 finishers. It was very well organized, the volunteers were friendly, and it was very affordable. If you’re looking for a no-frills marathon with a small-town feel, this is the race for you.
- Have you ever received your finisher’s award before you even started the race?
- Would you rather race on cinders, asphalt, or dirt?
- Tell me something awesome about your recent workouts!