Race 13.1, a half marathon series, will put on a race in Wilmington for the first time this February. The race, held Feb. 22, includes a 5K, 10K and half marathon distance. All three races begin and end at Lumina Station.
Race 13.1 chairman and CEO John Kane organized several half marathons in Raleigh in 2012 and received such a positive response he was inspired to expand the series, regional vice president Dan Mercer said during a Jan. 2 phone interview. Kane formed Race 13.1 in 2014 and held five races that year. The 2015 schedule is still being finalized but it could include as many as 20 races in seven different states across the southeast, Mercer said.
Race 13.1 targets mid-size communities that lack the attention from national race series, he added, so Wilmington was a natural choice. Mercer also had personal reasons for bringing the race to the coastal city.
“I played basketball at UNCW in college,” he said. “I just really wanted to give back to a community that gave so much to me.”
Through his involvement with the University of North Carolina Wilmington basketball program, Mercer became aware of the Miracle League of Wilmington, a program that allows children and adults with special needs the opportunity to play baseball on a modified turf field. Race organizers chose the Miracle League as the official charity partner of its Wilmington event.
Mercer said Race 13.1 offers its charity partners several avenues to raise funds, including allowing runners the option to donate during the registration process. He said they usually receive about $1 per registration and they expect anywhere from 750-1,000 participants.
After leaving Lumina Station at 7 a.m., half marathon participants will race down Eastwood Road, which will have one lane blocked from automobile traffic. Mercer said he carefully plotted the half marathon course to make ample use of the cross-city trail that runs through UNCW’s campus to both give the runners a scenic route and also require fewer road closures. Three aid stations will be placed throughout the course.
Mercer said organizers made an effort to not hold their race too close to other similar races such as the Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon in March. He also reached out to the local running clubs, introducing himself and training a few days with the Wilmington Road Runners Club.
While the race should attract many serious runners, he said, the event is structured to allow entire families to participate. The 5K and 10K distances give all ability levels the chance to race and there will be music, food and a kids’ zone at the finish line.
“It’s a really open and accepting atmosphere,” he said. “There’s not pressure to be the best runner, it’s just about coming out and doing something healthy and pursuing a goal.”
To register, visit www.race131.com