My Take: The 2019 Cannonball Marathon


Last weekend, at least as this post/episode was released, I hit the road and headed north to Greensboro, NC, for the Cannonball Marathon.

As a reminder, I’m not one for writing a detailed race recap of my performance on race day. So if that’s what you’re looking for…

Sorry

Yeah, I’m not really that sorry.

What I am up for doing is sharing my perspective on the Cannonball Marathon, while it’s still fresh in my mind, as someone that has run the race.

What things does this race get right? Where could they improve?

So that’s what I’m doing today.

I’m giving the basics below, but the podcast will have much more detail (ie I’ll probably be rambling like a mofo). So if you want the full scoop, make sure you press play above!

(And if you’re not already subscribed to the show on your phone, get on it eh?)

The Cannonball Marathon

Every race, and the Cannonball Marathon is no different, has pros, cons, and mehs.

The hope, of course, is that most races have a lot more pros than cons and mehs.

And I’d say that is the case with the Cannonball Marathon.

Let’s take a look at the specifics, shall we?

Travel Logistics:

Traveling to/from Greensboro isn’t particularly complicated.

If you’re driving in, there are no shortage of interstate highways that either run through Greensboro or come pretty darn close. And as far as I can tell, the drive from all directions is going to include plenty of mountains to provide a scenic element to the trip.

If you’re looking to fly in for the race, there are options there as well. Greensboro has a small/regional airport, and there are a few major airports (Atlanta and Charlotte) that are an easy drive away.

So really, whether you’re coming from near or far, getting to Greensboro isn’t too difficult!

Course Details:

I feel like the Cannonball Marathon was the tale of two courses.

The first course was mostly run inside city parks or on various aspects of Greensboro’s greenway system of paved and well-maintained trails. The greenway was still open to the public, obviously, but things moved well and there were no issues that I experienced. Some bikers passed me, and there were some runners out there as well, but I had zero complaints with running on the greenway at all.

There were a few sections of road in this first section of the race, plus the handful of road crossings, were smooth sailing with police officers there to direct traffic and one full lane of traffic blocked off for the runners.

The second “course” of the race, which was about the last 10 miles, took place almost exclusively on the road. We were on one pseudo busy road, it was a four-lane highway, for a fair bit of those 10 miles, and one lane was blocked off to traffic to give us plenty of room to run without cars buzzing by a bit too closely for comfort. We also ran into a few neighborhoods/subdivisions, where there was minimal traffic but roads were open to traffic.

If it was up to me, I’d love to see the “halves” of the course flipped and almost run the course backward.

As you would probably expect, running on the roads wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as running on the greenway through the woods, so I’d rather get the “worst part” of the course over earlier in the race. Also, the road section was fairly exposed to the sun whereas the greenway section had a lot of tree cover. While the sun wasn’t much of an issue in this year’s race, if the sun was a factor it would have been nice to have the shade later in the race.

The course for the Cannonball Marathon also featured more than a few hills. Which, if you’re familiar with the topography of the area, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

There weren’t any hills that were ridiculously steep, they just never seemed to never end.

Even though I live/train in Florida, I’m not one that really is intimidated by some elevation on race day, but the hills got to me on this day.

I ended up, according to my Garmin, with 1,147 feet of elevation gain during the race. Whether or not that kind of gain is a lot for you over 26.2 miles is for you to decide, but it was more than enough for me!

Pre/Post Race:

If you’re looking for a big/flashy/fancy expo, you’re going to be disappointed.

Instead of an expo, the Cannonball Marathon features more of a packet pick up at the local Omega Sports running store.

The process was smooth sailing and well organized, but it definitely lacked the “big race feel” that you get from a proper expo with several vendors present.

The Cannonball Marathon starts/finishes at a local park.

In the start/finish line area of the parking lot, there were a handful of vendors/race sponsors that were set up both before and after the race.

There were plenty of porta potties available for the runners in this area, though a bit of a line did start forming as race time got closer. Not exactly a surprise there, though.

After the race they had live music playing and several local breweries set up to give our beers to runners.

Every runner received two free beers post-race, and they were full cups not just little shot glasses.

Post-race, we also had a ticket for a free chicken sandwich and there were plenty of other drink and food options available as well.

Bling:

The Cannonball Marathon bling is legit.

That is all.

Volunteers:

As always, the volunteers were awesome!

The folks running the aid stations/water stops were awesome, and definitely did whatever they could to support us on the course.

And in addition to the police officers, each intersection featured several volunteers helping to make sure the runners knew where they were supposed to go.

Not a lot of crowd/spectator support for this race, which is always a bummer. But there were definitely a few friends/family members that would out at various points of the race.

Miscellaneous:

There wasn’t really a proper host hotel for the Cannonball Marathon, at least as far as I could tell.

There were a couple of hotels mentioned in an email as good/convenient places to stay, but no special deals or anything like that.

And with the start/finish being in a city park anyway, no matter where you stay you are still going to need race day transportation to get you where you need to go.

One thing that the Cannonball Marathon does, that I wish more races would do, is to provide runners with free race photos.

That’s one of those little things that is, at least in my opinion, always a nice touch.

Overall Impression:

Overall, I really don’t have anything bad to say about the Cannonball Marathon.

I feel like this race is what it is: a smallish race that isn’t trying to be something it’s not.

The race is well organized, the staff are super helpful/friendly, and the medal is legit.

The Cannonball Marathon doesn’t try to be anything more than that, and as far as I’m concerned, that is more than enough for me.


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Have You Ever Run the Cannonball Marathon? Did You Run it This Year? What are Your Thoughts on This Race?

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2 replies
  1. Kimberly Hatting
    Kimberly Hatting says:

    I ran the Cannonball Marathon last year, and the hills were SUCH a buzzkill. I’m not from North Carolina (nor am I familiar with the topography of the area), so the non-stop hills caught me by surprise. I agree, the first half of the race course was much more enjoyable than the last half…reversing them would be a genius move! The volunteers at the water stands were amazing, but did I mention the hills? Definitely one of my tougher marathon courses of all time.

    Reply

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