Nearing the registration deadline and misremembering Chapel Hill as a shorter commute, I decided a couple nights prior to the event to sign up for the historic Tar Heel 10 Miler, held on April 22, 2023, and commencing by the Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower. Had I known my drive to packet pickup from my office in downtown Raleigh would take an hour and a half due to traffic the day before, I may not have registered. I primarily planned to use this as a training run for a bigger race hopefully soon. I have consistently heard about the relentless hills of the event town, and many highlighted the giant one-mile climb on Laurel Hill towards the end.
This race too, like my most recent half marathon, had a mass start of thousands of runners, but thankfully I did not find challenging maneuvering around people and keeping my intended pace. The entire course comprised rolling hills but nothing extreme for the most part; hills generally look worse than they feel, the reason I often look down when running up so that my mind does not deceive me into believing they are more daunting than they are. Even in this hotter-than-ideal temperature, I for the first eight miles ran every mile significantly under nine minutes, with the fastest clocking in at just under 8:24, but the anticipation of the final climb remained. Unlike in many instances, people were not exaggerating about this monster that started around 8.5 miles in all the way to the finish with hardly any flat breaks in-between, which slowed me down drastically and ruined my overall performance. I only cared about not walking at any point, which I managed, and crossed the finish with an official time of 1:31:33.54, with my COROS reading 614 feet of elevation gain in 10.16 miles. Ten minutes following, officials asked runners to take shelter for a thunderstorm that never appeared, which had me worrying about the thousands of runners still on the course and if they would be allowed to finish.