I was given the wonderful opportunity to participate in a very unique race called the Mike to Mike Half Marathon. In less than two weeks I will be packing my running shoes and race gear into a suitcase and traveling almost 2500 miles across the country to run 13.1 miles in the gorgeous state of North Carolina. You may ask, why? Well, let me tell you a little about this unique race.
The race consists of two different distances; a half marathon called the Mike to Mike Half Marathon and a full marathon called the All American Marathon. I will be running in the half and couldn’t be more excited.
The half starts in the town of Fayetteville, North Carolina at Festival Park. Festival Park is a four-acre concert and entertainment center complex described as the “crown jewel of downtown” by the Parks and Recreation website. The race course takes runners up Ray Avenue to Hay Street where they will run through historic downtown Fayetteville past the Market House. The Market House is a National Landmark, built in 1832, where historically meats, produce and sometimes slaves were sold underneath and the second floor was utilized as the town hall.
Once past the Market House runners will run past Veterans Parks, the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, and through the Haymount District of Fayetteville. After running over rolling hills along the All-American Freeway runners will spend two miles running through historic Fort Bragg. Built in 1918 Fort Bragg was one of the training camps for soldiers during World War I. After leaving Fort Bragg, runners will travel onto Normandy and to the finish line at the Main Post Parade Field.
One of the unique aspects of this course is the History of the Iron Mike Statue. The Iron Mike Statue, built in 1960 is a statue of a paratrooper representing service members past, present and future. After years of deterioration, a bronze replica of the statue was created to replace the deteriorating one. Since then, the original Iron Mike Statue has been refurbished and is now standing at the entrance to the Airborne & Special Operations Museum. The half marathon course takes runners past both of these historic statues.
The full marathon course takes runners along the same route as the half marathon but veers off course at mile 10 and takes runners along Gruber Road. Runners will travel past the home of the 82nd Airborne Division and past Pope Airfield, one of the oldest installations in the Air Force. Prior to finishing at the Main Post Parade Field, runners will be provided with scenic views of the United States Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) headquarters and views of the historic Iron Mike’s statue at Fort Bragg.
This race also includes an All American 5k race. More information about the 5k can be found here.
This course seems to be very well organized. They have water stations every 1.5 miles for the first 9 miles, and then every mile after that. Packet pickup is available the entire week before the race, at different locations throughout the city. Shuttles to and from the start/finish lines are provided at no cost to runners. A schedule of shuttle times are included on the race website.
There is so much to do on race weekend. There is a pre-race pasta party on May 3rd at the Holiday Inn Bordeaux. This is a great opportunity to meet other runners, as well as listen to 3x U.S. Olympian and Generation UCAN athlete, Meb Keflezighi speak. After the race bring your friends and family to the finish festival at the Fort Bragg Main Post Parade Field. Runners will receive custom race medals, finisher gifts, free snacks, hydration, and free massages. For everyone, the finish line festivities includes live entertainment, a special guest appearance from Meb Keflezighi, military vehicle displays, a rock climbing wall, bounce house and inflatable slide and much more.
The All-American Marathon, Mike to Mike Half Marathon and All-American 5k (Fayetteville, North Carolina)
Date: May 4, 2014
When: Full Marathon and Half Marathon: 6:30am. 5k: 7am
Where: Start Location – Emerald Dance Center, 2050 Yolanda (Springfield, Oregon)
Register: Online– $90 for the full marathon, $75 for the Half Marathon, and $25 for the 5k.