MagazineMarch 2011The P.R. Chase: Speedy P.R. Races for Every Distance

The P.R. Chase: Speedy P.R. Races for Every Distance

Fasten your laces. Here are the flattest and fastest races in the region for chasing a personal best.



Crazy 8s 8K Kingsport, Tenn. • July 17 It’s the “World’s Fastest 8K” because the current 8K world records were both set on this figure-eight course through the candle-lit streets of Kingsport. There is currently a $10,008 bonus for the first man or woman to break the world records.

Runner-Up: Neptune Festival 8K Virginia Beach, Va. • September 24 Cruise down Atlantic Avenue along the flat coastal oceanfront of Virginia Beach, just as the summer temperatures finally start to break. 10K

Rural Hall Flat & Fast 10K Rural Hall, N.C. • October It’s all in the name. The venerable Twin City Track club helps organize this race near Winston-Salem that sees plenty of finishing times in the low 30-minute range.

Runner-Up: Capitol Hill Classic Washington, D.C. • May 15 Cruise through the flat streets around Capitol Hill with substantially smaller crowds than some of D.C.’s other road races.

10 mile

Broad Street Ten-Mile Run Philadelphia, Pa. • May 1 Named the fastest 10-miler in the country by Runner’s World, Broad Street is also the country’s largest 10-mile race. Over 30,000 runners dash the traffic-free course from Broad Street to the Navy Yard. Broad Street has been attracting PR-hungry runners for 32 years.

Runner-Up: American Tobacco Trail 10 Miler Apex, N.C. • October Site of last year’s North Carolina State Championship 10 Mile, the race takes place on a converted rail trail. Not only is it completely level, but the greenway’s low-impact compacted soil is easy on the legs. Half-marathon

Kiawah Island Half Marathon Kiawah Island, S.C. • December 11 There’s a net elevation gain of zero on this flat course that moves past coastal forests and quiet oceanside communities. With a field under 1,000 and consistently mild December temperatures, Kiawah is a place to discreetly post your best.

Runner-Up: Marshall University Half Marathon Huntington, W.Va. • November 6 Huntington was once named the fattest city in America. To combat his hometown’s battle with the bulge, a family physician named Tom Dannals started a race series to help locals get active. Approaching its eighth year this fall, the Marshall University Marathon has become a PR chaser favorite for a fast and flat course in the floodplain along the Ohio River. Runners carry a football during the last 100 yards for a big finish at the university stadium. Marathon

Shamrock Marathon Virginia Beach, Va. • March 20 This PR chase is a scenic out-and-back along the oceanfront. Once you round the Cape Henry Lighthouse—the oldest in the country—it’s a gradual downhill finish for the final six miles.

Runner-Up: Potomac River Run Marathon Carderock, Md. • May 1 How can you go wrong with a race dubbed the “Easiest Marathon in America”? This one is prime for good time, taking place on the flat and extremely shaded C&O Canal Towpath just outside of D.C. The Boston qualifier also offers gorgeous views of the Potomac. Ultra

New River Trail 50K Fries, Va. • October 8 Most ultras include rugged terrain with plenty of incline, so if you’re looking to break into the distance or just want to shave some time, try this flat and scenic jaunt in Southwest Virginia. Ultra ace Annette Bednosky started this race on the level New River Trail—a linear state park created from a converted rail trail—a few years ago as an effort to preserve the namesake waterway. Proceeds go to a regional river keeper and all of the food served is local.

Runner-Up: Nashville Ultra Marathon Nashville, Tenn. • October 15 Connect the downtown greenway system and cruise along the Cumberland River at this urban ultra in Music City.

Places to Go, Things to See: