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Posted In: Road running, Running

Two spring running races offer interesting twists

Richard Chittick

February 19, 2015 10:18am

You’re going to run where?

Two new half marathons in central Virginia this spring feature some unique places to run through: a NASCAR race track and a cemetery.

Race 13.1 Richmond

RIR is set to trade race cars for runners on May 9. Credit: Wikipedia

RIR is set to trade race cars for runners on May 9. Credit: Wikipedia

No other running event in the Richmond area gives you the opportunity that Race 13.1 is putting in front of area runners on May 9. Not even within their own series of races scattered throughout the South East by this group out of North Carolina can you find a course like this. I’m talking about Richmond International Raceway — the track itself. It’s the marquee feature of one of Richmond’s newest running events, and you don’t even have to be an endurance runner to to get your chance at tromping the same path as some of the best drivers in the world.

The event will feature three distances — a half-marathon, a 10k and a 5k — and each distance takes runners around the D-shaped track in Henrico’s east end. Granted, as any NASCAR fan can tell you, that only accounts for ¾ of a mile of each course. But that’s O.K., because it turns out that there’s enough land in the parking lots to fit a 5k and a 10k course, with the half-marathon doing an out-and-back on Azalea Avenue to account for the rest.

Petersburg Half Marathon

Union Station is one of dozens of historic buildings featured in the new Petersburg Half Marathon, being held on April 18.

Union Station is one of dozens of historic buildings featured in the new Petersburg Half Marathon, being held on April 18.

Endurance running in the Tri-Cities makes its debut on April 18, when Petersburg hosts a half marathon. Like the Race 13.1 Richmond event, this one has a interesting slant. With a course that features a national park, a cemetery and a bunch of guys running around in pre-1800 garb pretending to fight for a nation’s independence, there’s no question that this half marathon offers a few things that others don’t.

After starting in Petersburg’s Old Towne, the course makes its way out to the city’s eastern edge and enters the Petersburg National Battlefield, following along Seige Road from one end of the park to the other. Shortly after runners exit the national park, they turn into the historic Blandford Cemetery and run a mile through Civil War headstones and around Blandford Church, itself a tribute to the Confederate lives lost during the war.

So the Civil War features prominently in the first half of the race. But the second half of the course takes runners even further back in history, all the way to the 1770s. An official Revolutionary War battle reenactment will take place at mile 10, put on by The Battersea Foundation.

The event also features a 5k and a kid’s run through Petersburg’s Old Towne. More information can be found at www.runpetersburg.com.

About Richard Chittick

Rick Chittick is a freelance writer and photographer with a passion for all things outdoors, especially mountain biking, trail running and alpine skiing. You can read more about his adventures on his blog, www.chitticksadventures.com. He can be reached at mountainfreakrva@gmail.com.