by Tom Mangan, Asheville Marathon Ambassador

As race day draws near, runners and spectators often have questions about registration, packet pickup, race day logistics, and many other topics. Many of those questions have already been answered and can be found on the race Frequently Asked Questions page. That said, here are a few other questions that come up from time to time.

Can I just jog to the start rather than drive or take the shuttle?

As an avid ultramarathon runner myself, I had the same question because I need to run long that weekend. Unfortunately, that is not an option for a variety of reasons, safety being the main one. I’d suggest instead that runners enter the Backyard to Vineyard Challenge. It’s a great way to get the miles in while getting some fantastic swag and spending the morning on parts of the estate that are not open to the general public.

Tickets and shuttles and passes, oh my! I just want to run. What gives?

The Asheville Marathon and Half are held entirely on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate; we are guests there. Because the estate is private property, it’s not a typical race that uses public roads and other public resources. Additionally, the property will be open to tourists and visitors, and there will likely be a number of other events taking place there during race weekend. The shuttles help ensure people are where they need to be on race day. CLICK HERE FOR INFO ON SHUTTLES.

Two races in two days? Do people really do that? That’s crazy! How does someone train for that?

Not only do people do that, the challenges reach near capacity each year. As one who has completed the challenge every year it’s been held, I’d suggest it’s very similar to training for a 50k. There really isn’t anything special to do other than make certain you build a solid base. To help ensure a successful finish, most runners in the challenge choose to race one day and simply run or jog the other. Yes, some runners run faster on the second day. Pro tip: Plan to race one day and take your time the other day. This will allow you to take plenty of pictures and enjoy the sites without affecting your race time.



Every race says to get there early. I’m not a morning person. Seriously now, how early should I get there?

Because of the unique aspect of holding the race entirely on the grounds of the estate, runners need to allow plenty of time to enter the grounds. Once you enter the grounds, there is about a 15-minute drive to get to the start area.

Pro tip: All traffic has to go through the main gate. Avoid adding to the stress of race day by getting there early. It’s better to wait and relax inside at Biltmore Village than stress in traffic waiting to get through the gate.

Pro tip two: Save time and have your ID, shuttle pass, and entry ticket out and ready to show at the gate.

What’s the deal with the weather? Everyone I’ve talked to has told me a different story. They all can’t be right.

The race has been held seven times. Each year the weather has been different than prior years. In fact, runners who have completed the Backyard to Vineyard challenge have enjoyed very different weather at Saturday’s half marathon and Sunday’s marathon. It’s March in North Carolina. Take it all in stride. (Yes, a very bad pun. I heard you groan from here.)

I’m signed up for the half marathon on Saturday, but I see the weather will be nicer on Sunday. Can I just show up and run on Sunday instead?

No. Race bibs are assigned for specific days. Do yourself a favor and sign up for the Backyard to Backyard Challenge and run both days for twice the fun!

I see that you have pacers for Saturday’s half marathon and Sunday’s marathon. I’ve also seen the elevation profile and that hill leading up to the house looks a little intimidating to me. Will the pacers adjust their times?

Each pacer will have his or her own pacing strategy and approach to the hills, though the general rule is to aim for even splits. That said, the pacers know many runners will want to take pictures when they see the house so they may bank a little time early in the race to allow runners to take photos and enjoy the view. Pacers will explain their plan for the day in the start corral.

The course description says there will be asphalt, gravel, packed dirt, etc. along the course. What should I do when it comes to selecting shoes for race day?

While most of the course is asphalt, there are some sections of gravel and packed dirt. The entire course is very runnable and no special shoes are required. Most runners opt for their favorite road shoe. Trail shoes are not necessary and racing flats are not recommended on the gravel sections.

I went a little crazy on Black Friday and now I need to unload some gently used running shoes.

Tie the pairs of shoes together and bring them to the expo. We’ll have a donation box. And thank you. CLICK HERE FOR INFO ON DONATING SHOES

What’s the deal with those little plastic swimming pools along the course? Surely nobody is taking a dip during the race.

Those are affectionately known as our Gu drops. Because most runners’ race day basketball skills are a bit…um…lacking, we’re giving you a bigger target to aim for. Please toss your gel packets, drink cups, and any other trash in those and do not litter along the course.

My friend ran last year and she said she dropped her jacket at a water stop and it was returned to her after the race. Nobody does that. I think she’s pulling my leg.

Your friend is correct. Located adjacent to each aid station is a box for runners to drop gear. Use the boxes rather than discard items along the course. There is no set time for when the items will be brought back to the finish area, so please be patient. Items will be returned as each respective aid station closes. And if your friend is pulling your leg, be sure to look for the massage tent for a pre- or post-race massage. You’ll be glad you did.

I don’t have any questions right now, but I’m sure I’ll have a million of them when I show up at the expo. What should I do then?

We look forward to speaking with you in person. Be sure to look for one of our Very Important Volunteers carrying an “Ask me” sign. CLICK HERE FOR INFO ON EXPO

Feel free to reach out to us via social media with any questions or concerns you may have. Best of luck with your training. We look forward to seeing you in Asheville in March.

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