The only way to get lost on the 5K course is if you try very hard! The out-and-back course is run entirely on Lockes Mill Road (Route 621), so there are no turns other than the turnaround at the halfway point. Just keep running along the river! It's a pretty course, and perhaps best of all, it's rather flat. There are maybe a couple of minor rises, but nothing that could even remotely be called a "hill".
The 10 miler, also an out-and-back course, starts in the same direction as the 5K, but obviously it goes about 3½ miles further. The course has three left turns on the way to the turnaround, and three right turns on the way back. It's very easy to remember!
The turns, in detail: At mile 1.8 (just past the old mill) you'll bear left onto Briggs Road, and at mile 2.9 (at the top of a pretty good hill) you'll take another left onto Ellerslie Road. Just before the halfway point & turnaround, Ellerslie Road runs into Clay Hill Road and Tilthammer Mill Road, and you'll be bearing left onto Tilthammer Mill Road for maybe a tenth of a mile before turning around. On the way back, you'll retrace your steps, turning right onto Ellerslie Road at mile 5.1, turning right again onto Briggs Road at mile 7.1, and bearing right yet again at Lockes Mill Road at mile 8.2.
The race director is well known for his course marking prowess, so do not worry! Although there probably won't be any course marshals stationed at any of the turns, the turns will be well marked with both surveyor's flags and arrows drawn in flour. We're expecting to have volunteers stationed at the 10 miler and 5K turnaround points. Each mile will be marked with an easy-to-spot blue sign stuck in a traffic cone.
While there won't be any water stops in the 5K, the 10 miler will offer at least one water
There are two hilly sections in the 10 miler, coming at mile 2½ and again at mile 6¼. Hey, this is the Shenandoah
Regardless of which race you're running, you'll be running mostly on gravel and dirt. There are two paved sections. The first section stretches for a half-mile between Parshall Road and Lockes Landing (mile 0.8 to 1.3 in both races; 5Kers will pass back over this section from about mile 1.8 to 2.3, while 10 milers will pass it again from mile 8.7 to 9.2). The other paved section is on Tilthammer Mill Road, just before and after the 10 mile turnaround (mile 4.85 to 5.15).
The rest of the course is unpaved. The runnability (is that a word?) of the unpaved sections will depend on how recently they have been raked by road crews. As of a week before this year's race, there had not been any recent road reshaping done, so the unpaved sections were largely worn down to smooth dirt-- but there are a lot of ruts and potholes to watch out for, and there's some washboarding on the steepest hills. Regardless of road work, the unpaved sections are not very fast... but this isn't exactly out of the ordinary for unpaved roads, is it?
Flooding & Alternate Plans:
The two courses are just a stone's throw away from the Shenandoah River, and we did have some concerns about flooding prior to the 2005 event. The last mile before the 10 mile turnaround in particular is quite close to the river level, and a week before the '05 race, parts of that mile were underwater! The river level receded by race day, though. We're not expecting to see any flooding problems this year, as the river level has not been high. (In the event of flooding, we would've likely rerouted the 10 mile course, moving the turnaround point to higher ground.)
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