The High Country Half Marathon is one of my favorite race courses. It’s beautiful and you get to see parts of Boone and Blowing Rock you probably wouldn’t otherwise. But, don’t expect a PR – the course is HARD.
When my parents visited from Utah, my mom had asked if there was a half marathon we could run and I found the High Country Half Marathon. We registered and my dad agreed to be our chauffeur and supporter.
High Country Half Marathon
The race starts on the Appalachian State University football field and then you run through some windy mountain roads before finishing in Blowing Rock, North Carolina.
To be honest, we had NO IDEA what we were signing up for, i.e. a BEAST. It was, by far, the hardest half marathon I have ever done. It went up and up and up.
Some gradual hills, some steep hills, some long, some short. Basically, you CLIMB until you reach the one long stretch of downhill. And it’s a STEEP downhill. And after the downhill, we climbed some up, right up until the very end.
I saw people walking up most of the hills and I rarely see people walking in half marathons around my pace group (7-8 min miles). While I didn’t walk on any hills, I did NOT worry about my pace and just focused on a steady effort.
All that being said, I LOVED the race.
You won’t set a PR but that’s okay
I knew 2 miles in that there was absolutely no way I could PR so I shifted my mindset and thought of the race as a different type of challenge. I focused less on speed, and more on endurance and strength.
And I just tried to take in the beauty because it was certainly a gorgeous course from Boone to Blowing Rock. Plus, it was so fun to cross the finish line and have my dad there!
My half PR was 1:34 at the time I ran this race (I’ve since beat it!) and I ran the High Country Half Marathon in 1:43. (Rumor has it that the course was a little short – not sure by how much. My Garmin clocked 12.53 miles but I lost my signal a few times.) I was seriously shocked that I placed, but I was the third overall female!!
High Country Half Marathon | Official time: 1:43:10
25th overall out of 219 finishers | 3rd overall female
I love the age group prize – a pottery plate made by a local Boone artist. It’s definitely something I’ll keep on display at my house. The finishers medals were cool too – they were bottle openers! 🙂
My mom took first in her age group, running 2:25, and won some fancy socks. I hope I’m as speedy and active as she is when I’m 67! And my dad spoiled us with a big breakfast after the race. He is such a good cook!
And we soaked in the views from the front porch while the soreness set into our legs.
If you’re in the area, I definitely recommend the race. The course IS a beast, but it was such a fun and pretty race. Plus, all the volunteers and race organizers were fantastic. Seriously so friendly and supportive. The race just had a really great feel to it — very warm and welcoming.