Friday night’s storms may have produced a local deluge, but the real run-off was Saturday morning when nearly 6,000 runners flooded the streets of Chapel Hill and UNC for the seventh annual Tar Heel 10-mile and Fleet Feet 4-mile road races.
Course changes implemented this year added stretches along East Franklin Street, but routes still lived up to their notoriously hilly reputation.
“We really needed more space for a mass start,” race director Thys Wind explained. “We’d outgrown Kenan Stadium for mass starting, and that allowed us to go one step further and use East Franklin Street for the first time. I think it provided an even more picturesque course.”
Hills did go unnoticed, even by the leaders, including overall 10-mile winner Duriel Hardy, 26, of Durham, who moved ahead of the lead pack in the picturesque but precipitous Laurel Hill neighborhoods en route to a 52-minute finish.
“Everyone was saying it was super hard, and it was, but I felt good,” Hardy said. “We had a good pack until about mile eight, and I caught the leader (Tibor Vegh) around mile nine.”
Vegh (52:31) finished in second place, with Chapel Hill’s Robert Torphy (53:08) in third. Allen Baddour, 42, captured the men's masters bracket in 59:15.
Female 10-mile winner Heidi Bretscher (1:01:21) also said the climbs were taxing. Bretscher out-paced Rachael Lambert (1:03:30) and Mattie Webb (1:07:00). Betsy Armentrout (1:08:25) won the women’s masters division.
Luke Holman (22:23) of McLean, VA earned top honors in the men’s four-mile race, with Erick Hawkins (25:39) and Benjamin White (26:08) giving chase. Paul Bishop, 50, won the masters crown in 27:04. Among the women, it was Jennifer Zwick (24:57) taking the gold, with Candace Harrison (26:00) earning silver and Ryan Jacoby (28:09) capturing bronze. Sloan Nuernberger (30:47), 42, won the women’s four-mile masters title.
The Tar Heel 10 Miler presented by CEP Compression Sportswear benefits UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA’s We Build People Campaign.
Endurance Magazine, the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, and Fleet Feet Sports partnered to produce the event, which also serves as the official North Carolina 10-mile State Championship. Endurance Publisher/Founder Steve Lackey said he hoped to see the race draw 10,000 runners in time for its tenth anniversary in 2017.