"I hate this course." "Why do I do this to myself?" "I'm never running this race again!"
We say this every year, and yet every year we run the Tar Heel 10 Miler. It's iconic for Chapel Hill fans who run. The course runs through campus and hits up highlights like Franklin Street, the Old Well, the bell tower, and the stadium. But as a fellow runner around mile 4 quipped, "Well they sure don't call it Chapel FLAT!"
The course itself wasn't too different than last year's, except it was hotter and muggier and filled with even more friends. I managed to get to the race start in great time even though I was worried I'd have to run to the start (again).
"Yeah, I wondered why you sounded out of breath when I called you to figure out where you wanted to meet up," Eric laughed as we milled around the bell tower before the start of the race. We had a good posse of co-workers at the race, having once again won the Corporate Challenge (yay!). We may not be the fastest runners, but we can put a good crowd together.
Eric dashed off ahead of us pretty early, but I kept up with Travis and Kristen and Heather for 3 miles before I waved them off. If I'm going to work my way through the hills of that race then I'm at least going to take it easy and enjoy the scenery. Which is why when I hit mile 5.5 I was very confused as to why I was catching up with Travis. I let my feet go on autopilot through Gimghoul neighborhood and took a second glance. It was the same shirt that Travis wears for every race and every run - a blue shirt with a dark grey stripe down the center (Kristen and I joke that he has only that one running shirt), but that buzzed hair definitely wasn't Travis. I pulled out my phone to snap the very rare race picture just to prove it to Travis later that I'd found his doppelgänger.
Another unique highlight this year was a family at the corner of Boundary Street and Franklin Street with a cut-out of the G.O.A.T. - Michael Jordan himself - with a sign proclaiming, "The pavement is the road!" Gotta love them Tar Heels.
There were more than a few moments of excitement running into friends on the course - either fellow Tar Heels, Fleet Feet runners, Oiselle teammates, or friends who were cheering us on. And while we grumbled and groaned about sore knees and various aches and pains and the odd muscle twinge, I'm sure we'll end up running it again next year.
Just as long as none of us get any great ideas about doing the Double Down 14 Mile Challenge.
Have you ever run the Tar Heel 4 Miler, 10 Miler, or the 14 Miler Challenge? How did you like the race? Let me know in the comments!