The morning routine for a typical race goes something like this: Wake-up at an unacceptable hour for a Saturday morning. Question why you paid money to crawl out of bed on a weekend. Think about whether coffee is a good idea before the race (“I’m not sure if they have bathrooms at the start”). Pile in with a large group of runners working hard to shake off the morning cobwebs. Finish the race and decide that 9am is beer:30 on race day.
But thanks to some forward thinking race directors, it doesn’t have to be that way. From runnin’ ‘shine to running all night, these Carolina races offer a range of experiences that prove you don't have to rise at the crack of dawn to take part in a fun, well-organized race.
Without Limits is a series of races catering to just about every type of runner. The weekend kicks off on Friday evening with the Palmetto Kids Run and the Run Forest Run 5K. For those looking to run all day and night, the series includes a 50K, a 100 mile team relay, and a 100 mile solo race.
The longer options would be a great first ultra as the course is simply repeats on the 5K loop. That makes it awfully difficult to get lost and you’re never too far from a fully stocked aid station.
To help keep you motivated, the event includes music, food vendors, and games plus some unique medals for race finishers. Expect some great giveaways and goody bags as well.
Uwharrie National Forest
This is a true runner’s race. Named for the remnants of the once mighty Uwharrie Mountains (which stood some 20,000 feet in their glory days), this overnight test of toughness is a great warm up for the upcoming 100 mile race held here in October.
The race begins at 8pm so it’s almost completely run in the dark. The well-marked course passes Aid stations and a tent area which should ease the pain...a little.
June 19 th
Another in the stellar (get it?) line-up of races at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, this event offers both a 4 mile and half marathon distance. With a start time of 8 pm, runners will need a good headlamp to pick their way through the well-groomed singletrack course.
Awards go to all half marathon finishers and to the three top male/female age group finishers. Post-race party includes snacks, bonfires, and beer from the ever-awesome NoDa Brewing Company.
June 27 th
Anne Springs Close Greenway
Fort Mill, SC
Back in the day, runnin’ ‘shine was a way of life for many an Appalachian mountain man and woman. Sneaking the illicit aperitif past the tax collector meant nighttime runs over hills and through dense forest.
Flatten the hills and straighten the curves at ASCG on your own nighttime moonshine run at the Moonlight Bootlegger 5K. Four waves attack the trails starting at 8:50 pm—guaranteeing a shroud of darkness to hide from Johnny Law. But seriously, bring a headlamp. Running in the dark is dangerous.
Post-race festivities include a moonshine drink (21 and over), food, and all the bluegrass music you can cram into your earholes. Loads of awards, a race shirt, and your very own mason jar are included with your registration.
5. Foam Glow 5K
July 18 th
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Typically the domain of NASCAR—which coincidentally traces its roots to running moonshine—for one night in July the infield of CMS becomes the psychedelic home of the Foam Glow 5K. Throughout the course, runners are covered in colorful foam that shines bright under black lights.
The party starts where the run ends with music, food, and more foam. Wear a white t-shirt for maximum color effect.
Sure, getting your race in early means a full day free for other things. And it’s true that the early bird gets the worm. But then again, who really wants a worm?