Hughes' Views & News

Slapping hands with Kyle Petty

Posted in Race reports by tahughesnc on December 19, 2009

Last Sunday morning I found myself standing in the middle of the street in Randleman, N.C. It was cold and rainy, temps just above freezing, and I was running in place just to stay warm.

What’s more, I was surrounded by hundreds of people who were all pretty much doing the same thing as me.

Why were we there? To run the Run to Victory Half Marathon, which is a charity fundraiser for Victory Junction, a sort of NASCAR theme park for children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. It was founded by retired NASCAR driver Kyle Petty and his wife, Pattie, in honor of their son, Adam, who was killed in 2000 while practicing for a NASCAR race.

The NASCAR theme was prominent through the whole race. They even started the race by waving a green flag. Once the race started, we were off on a downhill stretch that soon left town and took us out into the rural countryside.

The course also turned uphill, again and again and again. It was, without a doubt, the hilliest half marathon I have ever run.

It struck me as odd we were not given any instructions to stay on the same side of the road for the entire race, and there was no attempt by race organizers to keep people from changing sides. And change sides they did, at every opportunity, in order to run the shortest, straightest line. There wasn’t much traffic on the roads we ran, but there were times when cars had to straddle the center line because there were runners on both sides.

Race organizers, take note:  The situation described above is very dangerous, a tragic accident waiting to happen. You need to do something about it before next year’s race, in order to better protect the safety of the runners.

The race finished at Victory Junction, and once we entered the park, we had about one more mile to run. During that last mile, it seemed that the finish line would never come. But finally I did reach the finish line, and Kyle Petty was there slapping the hand of everyone as they finished. Nice personal touch there, Kyle!

My finish time was 01:44:15, which is about 10 minutes slower than my half mary PR. But considering how hilly the course was, and how I didn’t do any special training to get ready for this race, I’m pretty happy with that time. However, my timing chip fell off during the race, so my name doesn’t show up in the official race results.

You can see two pictures of me taken by the official race photogs here.

Would I do this race again? Absolutely! It’s a lot of fun.

A note on my clothing for the race: I wore Zensah’s long-sleeve compression shirt as my base layer, with a short-sleeve Adidas shirt on top. That combo worked well for this race. That being said, I think the Zensah shirt would only be comfortable in temps this cold (30s or lower); it would be too warm in 40-degree weather.