Asheville Ambassador Casey Stephens shares her TOP FIVE favorite things she loves about the Asheville Marathon and Half at Biltmore Estate.
5. The comradery before the race. I have met the COOLEST people while waiting for the race to start. Usually, runners are huddled up in one of the restaurants at Antler Village next to a space heater (I mean we are in the mountains and it does get chilly), or standing in line for the bathroom (even though the line does move fast!). Those are the places I’ve talked to the most interesting people. People travel from all over the country to participate in the Asheville Marathon, and I enjoy learning about where runners are from, their experiences from running, and how many marathons or half marathons they have completed. As someone fairly new to running, it astounds me when people say “this is my 46th half” or “my goal is to run a half or full marathon in every state”. I love celebrating other’s accomplishments and making new friends all throughout the race event.
4. In case you didn’t know, Asheville, North Carolina is THE BEER CAPITAL of the world. Okay maybe not the world, but you get the picture. There are SO many breweries and restaurants in the area, that after the race you can celebrate your accomplishment by spending the afternoon in downtown! A few of my favorites are Greenman Brewing, Burial Brewing, Wicked Weed, and my most favorite, Catawba Brewing (they are located beside Voodoo Doughnuts which doesn’t hurt one bit).
Also, if you are more of a wine person, the Biltmore Winery is STUNNING. It’s such a great place to relax and hang out with friends and family. The winery makes a commemorative bottle JUST for the Asheville Marathon, I always buy a bottle either at the Expo or after the race.
3. The quietness at the beginning of the race. As someone who usually feeds off the loud energy at the beginning of a race, I cherish the beginning of the Asheville Marathon the most. After running numerous half marathons, and my first marathon in October (Chicago Marathon), I’ve noticed that there is usually a huge crowd for the first mile or so with lots of loud music and screaming and cheering. The Asheville Marathon is COMPLETELY different from that. When the race starts, the course meanders through quiet pastures just as the sun is rising. It is truly beautiful, and makes you appreciate nature and your beautiful surroundings in the North Carolina Mountains. It seems like everyone is running a bit softer, just to soak up everything around them.
2. THOSE. MEDALS. Every year, the race team keeps the medals TOP SECRET until race day. And it’s worth it. EVERY. YEAR. The last two years I’ve run the Asheville Marathon, the medals have been wooden, which are so unique and beautiful. The race is already unique by running a closed course on the country’s largest private estate, and the stunning medal is the cherry on top.
1. The mile 6 view of the Biltmore House GETS. ME. EVERY. TIME. No matter how many times you’ve visited the Biltmore Estate, actually running by the house gives me a feeling of awe and excitement. I know that once I’ve reached the house, the rest of the course is SO much easier (downhill and/or flat). I always make sure to take a selfie (because why not?) to commemorate race day and celebrate my body’s strength and my accomplishment of running a (half) marathon. As someone who lives and grew up in North Carolina, this stunning landmark makes me celebrate and appreciate everything the state has to offer.