Get race day ready as Ambassador Tom Mangan walks you through the course and shares some Pro Tips along the way!
Running at Biltmore is unlike many races you may have experienced. Looking at the course maps, the first thing many runners will notice is that both the half marathon and marathon courses are entirely on the grounds of the estate. In fact, runners will run through many parts of the estate that are never seen by the general public. How exciting!
Beginning at Antler Hill Village, the course starts on asphalt roads and winds its way through wide open spaces and lots of greenery making for a spectacular view as the sun starts to rise. Off to the right, runners will see a peaceful walking path that will bring marathon runners to the finish line later in the day.
As the field spreads out over the first mile or so, runners will begin the gradual incline up to the mile two marker at Deerpark. Having run the Asheville Marathon every year, I can say from experience that this is where many runners realize they are overdressed. Pro tip: Rather than dispose of clothing along the side of the road, look for the collection boxes at water stops. Clothing is returned to the finish line after each water station has closed. Just past the water stop at the top of the hill are restrooms.
What goes up must come down. After a brief respite at the top of the hill, runners will turn left and wind their way down toward the admissions gate. This is nearly a mile of continuous downhill. Some runners will go too fast and try to make up for any lost time on the previous uphill section. Pro tip: Keep an even pace. It’s still early in the race and your quads will thank you later.
Turning right by the admissions gate, runners will begin a gradual incline up to the Biltmore House. This is my favorite part of the course. Surrounded by trees and breathtaking landscaping, just keep putting one foot in front of the other. A nice short stride is the way to go here. Runners get a breather around mile 5 where there is a slight downhill leading to a water stop along with some porta-johns.
A few rolling hills will take runners to the final climb just before turning right to the long driveway leading up to the front door of the Biltmore House. Pro tip: Have your cellphone ready to go as you will definitely want to snap a few photos. If you are running for a goal time, be sure to allow for an extra minute or so in this section. You definitely don’t want to rush through this section. As you begin running away from the house, be aware of the course photographer and have your best smile ready to go!
Leaving the house, runners will cross the 10k timing mat and wind their way into the Biltmore Gardens. There is so much to see here it almost seems a shame to be running through it! Keep your phone handy to snap more pictures. As you’re leaving the gardens, look for the arrow pointing to the restrooms at the conservatory.
From the gardens, runners will continue downhill past the bass pond before making a left turn just before the water stop near mile 8. This section of the course transitions from asphalt to packed trail and gravel. While it’s still very runnable, some runners may prefer a shoe with some cushion rather than racing flats. This out-and-back section takes runners past the equestrian center. Many years the horses have been out and have provided quite a sight to see. Runners will pass the water stop and porta-johns again as they make their way along French Broad River toward mile 9. Pro tip: Look to your right along this section for additional views of the Biltmore House. Most people never get to enjoy this view of the house.
Continuing on past another water stop and porta-johns, marathon runners will turn left across the bridge near mile 10. (Half marathon runners will continue straight.) This section of the course may seem pretty remote or isolated to some marathon runners simply because the half marathon runners are no longer running alongside them. Not to worry, a water stop with cheery volunteers is just ahead at mile 11. This section could best be described as bridle trails. It’s hard packed dirt without the gravel. It’s a softer and more forgiving running surface than asphalt. It’s flat and fast and many runners opt to open it up a little in this section. Pro tip: Wait until after this water stop to start listening to your music.
As runners make their way up to the Alta Vista aid station at mile 12.5, this is the often the most challenging part of the course for many marathon runners. The surface is bridle trail with some gravel. It’s not technical, though it might not be what some runners are accustomed to. For many runners, this is the most challenging part of the course. Pro tip: Shorten your stride and maintain the cadence and you’ll be up the hill in no time.
After a short out-and-back to the timing mat at the halfway point, runners will pass the aid station and porta-johns at mile 13.5 then continue through the pastures and some breathtaking views of the estate grounds before being rewarded with some very runnable downhill.
After passing Long Valley Barn, runners will see fantastic views of the vineyards and Long Valley Lake as they make their way to the Pine Top aid station at mile 15.5. Some more runnable downhill will bring runners back toward the bridge they crossed a few miles earlier while presenting them with some of the most dramatic views of the estate and grounds that most visitors never get to experience. Pro tip: Note the “Beat the Bridge” cutoff at 11:45 a.m.
Rejoining the half marathon runners at mile 17.5 (10.5), the course returns to the packed dirt and gravel mentioned earlier. This is a flat and fast section leading up to the aid station at mile 18 (11). An out-and-back section to the timing mats is quite energizing for many runners as many runners exchange “high fives” and other bits of encouragement to minimize any effects of “hitting the wall.” Returning to the water stop at mile 20 (12.5), half marathon runners will be able to see and hear the finish line while marathon runners will prepare to break off to the right for the asphalt walking path they saw earlier in the day. Pro tip: Note the different turnaround point for the respective race distances.
Continuing on the walking path, marathon runners will enjoy some very gently rolling terrain. Many runners who are pushing for qualifying times, PRs, and negative splits use this section to stretch it out a bit. This section provides unique views of the Biltmore House, the grounds, and French Broad River, as well as many species of birds and wildlife. Runners will be able to stay hydrated with water stops at 22.5, 23.5, and 24.5. Pro tip: thank the volunteers!
Around mile 24 or so, runners will be able to hear the cheers from the finish line. With each step, the view of the finish line will become clearer. Near mile 25, runners will see Antler Hill Village as well as the farmlands. Before you know it, a right turn at mile 26 will bring the finish line into full view. Pro tip: Be ready for your finish line photo!
After crossing the finish line, a volunteer will present runners with a one-of-a-kind wooden finisher medallion. Pro tip: if you achieved a PR, be sure to ring the PR bell in the post-race runners’ village area.
A few random tips:
- Remember to pick up any items you may have left at gear check prior to the race.
- If you dropped off clothing during the race, be sure to pick it up at the gear tent after the race. Be patient as gear is returned after each respective aid station closes.
- Be sure to look for the finisher photo area in the runners’ village.
- Note the respective cutoff times of 6:30 for the marathon and 3:30 for the half marathon. See the race guidelines on the website for additional interim cutoffs.
- Run with an Asheville Marathon pacer to hit your finish time goal.
- Thank the volunteers!
Post your photos on the Asheville Marathon social media pages and use hashtag #RUNLUCKY7AVL