Asheville Marathon was a brutal and lovely affair


The first Asheville Marathon, held on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate, presented brutal weather conditions and a beautiful backdrop Sunday. The temperature was in the upper 20s and low 30s for the morning start, and a harsh wind blew all day.

Here’s the Asheville Citizen-Times run-down.

Frigid conditions — temperatures in the 20s, gusty winds and a wind chill dipping to 8 degrees — resulted in several runners, including overall winner Jason Bodnar, of Candler, being transported from the race venue at Biltmore Estate to Mission Hospital for mild hypothermia.

Marissa Weiss, of Raleigh, the top female finisher, managed to avoid a trip to the emergency room, saying she layered her clothing and wore two pairs of gloves.

And check out these great photos by Asheville photographer Cindy Kunst.


Benji March 6, 2013 - 8:12 pm

First time marathoner. I got exactly what I signed up for. It wasn’t WAY more than any other marathon I looked at signing up for. I think it’s definitely for people who want to make a weekend out of it and visit the Biltmore anyway. There were some minor hiccups, but overall I really liked the race. I did something crazy before I headed out race day morning… I checked my app on my phone, and I dressed accordingly. I also read the course description, and knew that there would be un-paved sections. I also knew that the race was in the mountains, and that no matter how flat someone from the mountains says something is, you don’t trust people from the mountains to say something is flat. It’s the mountains, it’s going to be hard. I will admit that I didn’t stick around after the race, because of the freezing cold temps, but that was more for my wife’s sake than mine. I had a great time! I will be signing up for a flatter race, just to see what faster time I am capable of.

Jesh March 6, 2013 - 11:41 am

Totally agree with Stephanie. My first marathon, too, and loved it despite the cold weather. You know there are going to be convenience trade-offs with holding the event on a private estate. To me those were easily outweighed by running through the vineyard and in front of the house itself. The staff was friendly and helpful and the volunteers at the stations were incredibly supportive and uplifting. I’m really grateful to be a part of what I’m sure is going to be a huge destination marathon moving forward.

For people complaining about the finisher medals…come on. I’ll admit that I’m new to this marathon thing, but is that why you run the race? And even if you do, what says “the mountains of NC” better than carved wood?

Stephanie March 5, 2013 - 10:02 pm

This was my first marathon, and I had an overall great experience. It’s Western NC, the course was about what I expected, and it was beautiful! I loved the fleece blanket, it was warm, and I can use it at home. I haven’t done many races, so I don’t have many medals, but this one is cool, and very “Asheville” to me. Also, there were two tents with heat to warm up in after the race. I’ve done a Disney race and Cooper River race, and you have to park, or get dropped off by the shuttle at least a mile from the start for both, so I thought the shuttle was fine. When we parked there were five shuttles sitting there waiting to take us to the start. It’s an estate, not a WalMart with a sea of asphalt. Finally, the organizers are putting out a survey, so if you have constructive criticism, tell them nicely, and maybe it will make the race even better next year for me. 😉

runsonplants March 4, 2013 - 7:13 pm

this was my 23rd marathon so i’ve seen it all and other than the weather i really don’t think it was a bad event. sure the course was hard but we were warned it was a dirt/gravel road so you can choose your footwear accordingly. the aid stations were fully stocked, well manned and enthusiastic, i counted 13 over 26 miles which is pretty standard, especially when it’s not hot and dehydration is a major concern. people should dress appropriately. yes i got cold at the finish so i went in the tent, hung out at the heatlamp and wrapped up in the fleece blanket, which is WAY warmer than a stupid foil blanket would have been. a lot of runners could park at antler village, you just had to get a pass. i agree the “medal” was lame (as was the shirt/logo) and it wasn’t convenient for friends and family to support, but again, we knew that in advance. the steep registration price was bc of the estate charges, so if you really weren’t interested in spending time on the estate then why bother coming? getting a $60 value entrance ticket as part of a $115 marathon registration is a pretty good deal. disney doesn’t even given out resort passes anymore and the registration is twice as much. new races always have kinks to work out, runners run the risk of it not being a perfect event the first go around. i’ve finished races under much worse circumstances with much less prepared race staff. i hope someone out there enjoyed it (like i did) and the lasting impression if not one of failure.

Mike March 4, 2013 - 3:50 pm

My fifth Marathon. Pros: Cool scenery/Access Cons: Everything else. They made runners park up at the House parking lots (not at antler village) and had to take a shuttle to the start. This started things off bad because A) marathon had to start 15 minutes late to wait for the shuttles B) after the marathon runners couldn’t go to car for change of clothes/warmth. The water station placement was schizophrenic(sp?)
The course was Road for 9 miles and 17.2 gravel/trail/bike path. The gravel road was rutty, loosely graveled. So my minimalist road shoes were very inadequate. They had a big ‘out and back’ from 20-26 that was in an open field along the river. This is where a lot of heat was ‘lost’ because the wind was so effective in the open field here. The water stations served frozen water/gu brew, the nutrition (bannanas and oranges) were frozen. (don’t blame them for the weather though, but it wasn’t unexpected) the biggest complaint (other than the lame finisher medal) was, (and I assumed the whole race that if I could just make it to the finish I could warm up) that when you finished there was not place to warm up, they had heaters outside, and if you weren’t right next to it it was useless (of course it was crowded and you couldn’t get close) My freind finished prior to me, and by the time I got to him (he had to wait on me to go to the car) he was blue, and borderline hypothermic) There was not much support (well because you had to pay to be there) and this being one of the most expensive marathons I’ve registered for, kind of cheap adjuncts (the medal).
That being said, there were handicaps going in for the organizers, the weather was a wild card (but even if it was 40 they should of had adequate heating tents because after a marathon your body can’t regulate it’s temp)They ‘outsourced’ the water stations to volunteer organizations (which is cool on paper) but lacked consistency.
I hate to sound like a downer, I so wanted to be supportive of this event and its organizers, but this is how it was.
I feel sorry for the first time marathoners if this was their benchmark.
Oh, and it was a very hilly course as well! (not a complaint, but a factor)

jtroop March 4, 2013 - 3:11 pm

Word on the street from a number of marathoners is that this marathon was very poorly executed.

The most egregious report is that the medics refused to help injured, frost-bitten folks unless they showed up at the tent, which was 200 yards from the course (presumably because of liability?)

Another report was that instead of passing out reflective heat blankets, they passed out some sort of swaggy clothe blanket.
Another report said that the calories (bananas and oranges) made available to runners (an essential part of any event) were all frozen.

Another pain was that the Biltmore charged “day-of event” spectators (those who line up to support the runners) $35 for entry, even if they are season passholders.

Yes, the runners should have been prepared, but the basics were not in place for this…. that is word on the street anyway…..

hauntedheadnc March 4, 2013 - 3:59 pm

“Another pain was that the Biltmore charged “day-of event” spectators (those who line up to support the runners) $35 for entry, even if they are season passholders.”

Biltmore is getting to be the kiss of death when it comes to just about anything anymore. For the longest time they were a borderline tourist trap, and then when they took so many rooms off the regular tour, without lowering the ticket price, they crossed the border. Now they’re just an expensive, money-grubbing hole that exists to drain wallets however they possibly can. They’re really not much of a good neighbor anymore, and behavior like this just goes to show it. Anything for a buck — that’s our beloved Biltmore.

Vlad Emrick March 5, 2013 - 8:17 am

There’s a pretty simple solution to that–don’t go.

hauntedheadnc March 5, 2013 - 1:07 pm

You don’t say? Funny how I haven’t been back since they did that. It’s been — what — a year now? Two?

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