As I explained in one of my earlier posts, I went a little nuts and signed up for a ton of races this fall. I did one of the first of those, the Aruna Run, on September 3, Labor Day. I heard about the race from my friend Rae. The race benefits The Aruna Project, which is a non-profit that helps survivors of sex trafficking. When you register, you pick the name of a survivor and that is who you run for. My run was for Ayesha. It’s a great cause and the race was a new one to me. It was a hot one! The race had a five-mile and three-mile option. By mile one, we were wishing we had signed up for the three mile option instead! But while it was a challenging run, I had a great time running with my friends and knowing that I we were supporting such a worthy cause. There was a nice party afterward where you could buy bags and headbands made by women who had been helped by the organization.
After the Aruna Run, my next race was the Black Bear Double, which consisted of the Smoky Mountain 5k on Friday, September 7, and then the Half Marathon on Saturday, September 8. Brent and I headed down to Gatlinburg on Thursday, so we had some time to hike in the park and explore Cades Cove before the races (and drink some moonshine!) The 5k was Friday evening and again, it was a hot one. The course went down a paved path, then around a field and back again. It was fairly flat but running through the field in the heat was rough. The next day was the half marathon. Both races took place in Townsend, about a 45 minute drive from where we were staying in Gatlinburg. The 5k started and ended at a hotel called the Tally Ho in in Townsend. For the half marathon, you parked there in the morning, and were bused to the start. Since we had to drive into Townsend, we got up at the crack of dawn! The race itself was beautiful! You could see the mountains in the distance and there was a long stretch where you ran by the riverside lined with cozy cabins. It was hard running all by myself but I just listened to my music and took in the scenery. I felt strong and when the race ended I actually felt like I could have run a few more miles. Brent got 2nd place in his age group and I was so proud of him! Overall, I really enjoyed this race and would definitely run it again. It was a gorgeous course and really well organized. It started right on time and I liked that I was a cupless race. (They gave you the option to get a hydration flask when you registered.) It was nice not having to dodge a pile of cups on the ground at the water stops!