If you have always wanted to run with the bulls in Pamplona, but don’t have a trip to Spain planned anytime soon, consider the Bull City Running’s annual Running of the Bulls 8K. This past weekend, 1,411 participants laced up to run a hot 4.97 miles through the streets of downtown Durham, NC.
This year marked the eighth year of the 8K and was my fourth time running it. Here are eight reasons this race ranks as my favorite road race in North Carolina.
It is a perfect distance.
Once you run a few 5K races, your next option is usually a 10K race or half marathon. I actually like the 8K the best because it is just short enough that you can run fast but long enough to make it feel like a challenge. Most people finish the race in about an hour which makes getting up early on a Saturday morning for an event feel worth it.
The scenic route.
The race starts uphill toward the Durham skyline and loops through the historic homes, tobacco buildings, and Duke’s East campus. If you are not familiar with the city, this is a wonderful way to get a quick tour of some of the main highlights.
It is a team event.
The race course is legit and USA Track and Field (USATF) certified. When you line up, you will notice competitive runners at the front of the line, who will finish the race in under 5 minute mile times. Though that means us mere mortal runners won’t have a shot at winning the race, it is awesome to see a competitive run in action. They even let you form your own teams for the race. A few of my co-workers and I decided to put our names in the hat as the ‘Blue Striders.’ We didn’t have enough runners to qualify as a team, but it was still fun to have a group you were cheering on to finish strong.
It is family friendly.
As I came upon my fourth mile, a kid of about seven flew past me towards the finish. The race encourages strollers and has a category for six and under and seven to twelve. There is nothing better than seeing kids round the bases at Durham Bulls Baseball Park after finishing a road race with their parents. I raced with my 10-month-old in a stroller and loved seeing all the other parents out there – my son loved it too and clapped for people as we ran along.
You get a glory finish.
The race ends in the old Durham Bulls stadium (the one featured in the movie Bull Durham) with a run of the bases before you finish the race. The stands are full of spectators cheering you on, and for a moment, you get to feel what it would be like to round the bases after a home run hit. What a way to finish a race!
This is the main reason I do the race every year – it has an awesome shirt that is not only a good dry fit material but has a cool bull logo AND is always a well-fitted shirt. The four I collected over the years, all in different colors, are my favorite to run in. I even wore the hot pink one from 2012 for the race.
The after party.
After the race, you can get a free beer from local brewer Full Steam, hang out in the outfield watching the finishers, and walk through the Durham Farmer’s market to get your after race meal (Scratch Baking please!).
I finished a little slower than year’s prior, having baby boy in tow, at an even 39 minutes. We had a blast at the race and plan to keep our annual tradition of running with the bulls each June…the Durham Bulls that is.
Bull City Running Co. has a series of races throughout the year. Visit their site to learn more about the Running of the Bulls 8K and other races.