Downhill at Dawn

PC: Paul King

Hoping to squeeze in a race before the conclusion of May, I registered for the Downhill at Dawn Half Marathon, my first race in North Carolina and since becoming a resident of the state, kicking off at Ridgecrest around 2,700 feet and dropping to Old Fort around 1,600 feet for the finish on the 29th. The course, albeit majorly downhill, also comprised several significant climbs, especially towards the beginning when runners went down the opposite way and then ran back up. Observing the elevation chart and recognizing these climbs beforehand, I paced myself in those sections and planned to make up going down. I have become efficient in downhill and even uphill running that I often passed participants running hills while feeling vulnerable on flat. Two ladies, one college student, and I continued to swap positions for nearly the entire race and ended in proximity, which at times made me push harder and the run more exciting.

Downhill at Dawn Post-RaceOnce we all finished, I in 1:53:20, we exchanged stories and I discovered one of the ladies flew in from Nebraska and we had mutual friends. The college student was running his first half marathon for a challenge from his fraternity, and his mother ended up driving me back up to the starting line where my car was parked, for which I felt immensely grateful and relieved, as I would have had to rely on Uber otherwise and did not know its frequency of availability in this minute town. Usually the race offers a shuttle back to the top, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participants were asked to take care of transporation themselves, why I hesitated to sign up earlier. Summer heat is rapidly approaching and I do not foresee an ideal 13.1 performance for the next several months, so I may shift my focus to ultras and/or other distances.

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