What doesn’t HILL you makes you stronger and I have to say that I am much stronger after running the Hillstriders March Madness Half Marathon in Cary on Saturday.
This was my first time back at this race since 2007 and it is still just as hard as I remember because we don’t have a plethora of hills to train on in the city. There are even markers on the course that warn you about six quad and lung awakening hills approaching.
There is a reason why the word “Madness” is part of this half marathon; it takes an extra crazy, driven runner to set their alarms on 12/31 at 6:00 a.m. to sign up for a hilly, potentially non-ideal weather half marathon. As fellow racer and now eight-time finisher, Peter Sagal said at the start line, “this race kicks off our running season each year.”
This year marked the 39th running and it still has the old school feel of the road racing I remember from the early 90s. The race kicks off at Cary Grove High school and the cafeteria is the gear check and the gym becomes athletes village, award ceremony and all. I recommend this race to my Boston Bound clients as this is a great test drive of what one finds on the road from Hopkinton to Boston. This may be the key contributor to why this race sells out in less than 30 minutes!
There were about 1,000 runners tackling the hilly course. As a caveat for runners, there is a strict cutoff of 11:30 a.m. finish time – the race starts at 8:35 a.m., but to help runners that need extra time they have an 8:05 a.m. start.
The course had plenty of aid stations and porta potties. Post race, runners were treated to the usual apples, bananas, sports drinks and water but my favorite was hot, warm, salted pretzels! Prior to the awards ceremony they raffle off running gear based on your bib number with prizes donated by The Running Depot. They also had last year’s sweatshirts for sale for $5.
Congratulations to all of my fellow Madness Runners and to Matthew Thor, the first male in a time of 1:13:18 and to Jacqui Giuliano, the first female in a time of 1:23:41. See you next year!