Website: Freedom’s Run Marathon
Date: Saturday, October 10, 2015.
Location: Start at Harper’s Ferry National Park, end at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV. Although I think this is OK as a WV race, note that most of the course is on the MD side of the river.
Weather: 50s-60s, sunny, perfect running weather.
Size: Small marathon (around 350 runnings); other distances, including a larger half, start elsewhere but end at the same point. Few crowds and easy parking.
What I Ate: Candy corn. Really. One bite of a peanut butter sandwich at mile 16. Gels were offered on course, but I did not take any. Water stops placed every 3 miles or so; did not bring my own water.
Terrain: About half on a flat crushed gravel rail-to-trail with minor rocks and roots, and half on pavement. Rolling hills for miles 15-22. Note that there are no mile markers on the canal portion of the course.
Amenities and Swag: Nice blue long sleeved tech shirts, cute handmade ceramic medal with a nice and special WV vibe, a water bottle. Plenty of restrooms. Easy race morning packet pickup. Post-race showers available, although I did not check them out. After-party at the Bavarian Inn with free pint glasses.
Finish Time and Splits: I was really happy with my time at this race, as I was expecting to come in around 4:15 or so. My wedding was the weekend before, so although I did my 20 miler run, I had skipped a couple of the other longer runs and was worried that the post-wedding adrenaline crash would affect my legs. But it was a lovely day and a lovely course, so I just kept pushing it. I finished just over 3:54. I’m so glad to be back in sub-4 hour territory! Here are my splits, via Strava:
Overall Impression: Love It!
Other Race Notes: Low-drama, well-executed event. Not far from DC-area airports, but not accessible by public transportation. Most of this course is incredibly scenic with river views and just-changing leaves. Several “wow” moments. Half merges with the full after the C&O Canal portion, during the hillier run through Antietam National Battlefield. Expect lots of walkers because of the way the races are staggered. The final 6 or so miles were less majestic through the town of Sharpsburg, MD and finishing anticlimactically on the campus of Shepherd University. At finish, runners are directed to a tent (with a line!) to get re-usable water bottles that they can refill. It was slightly annoying not to be handed water right at the finish, and the process took about 5 minutes to get water. The food tent was out of pizza for the moment when I finished and only had bagels, so we skipped the food and instead grabbed a beverage at a local coffeeshop before hitting the road. Appeared to be a nice post-race festival at the Bavarian Inn. Would highly recommend this race to those preferring smaller crowds and less hoopla, and especially to those who love history. Not a particularly fast course but really very pretty without too much climbing or tough terrain.