This is the second year I've run the Oak Barrel Half Marathon in the quaint town of Lynchburg, Tennessee. Although this is an incredibly challenging run (spoiler alert), it is quickly becoming one of my favorite local races. Lynchburg is about an hour and a half south of Nashville, and it's size not only limits the size of the field (this race caps out at 1600 runners), but it also means you have to plan to arrive early. There is just one two lane road in and out of town, so you need to allow plenty of time to get in and parked.
Run This Race If: You find yourself in Tennessee and love a great local race with great perks (and don't mind a challenge).
Course: Loop course on rural, paved roads with lots of hills and banks. Do note that almost all the roads are open to cars. There are course directors at intersections, but you have to keep your eyes open for yourself and your fellow runners.
What Makes It Unique: It has a great local feel coupled with fantastic sponsorship from Jack Daniel's. This race takes great care of its runners, so you can see why people come back year after year.
Cost: Great Value. I'll warn you that this one sells out fast - this year sold out in 1 hour 45 minutes. You get a LOT for the $70 registration fee (and there are also charity spots available if you miss out on regular registration).
Date And Time: Always on a Saturday in early April - 8 AM start.
Would I Do It Again: I absolutely would. This one is worth the difficulty level. With a little registration luck, I'll toe the line again in 2018.