Runners start the Nags Head Woods 5K.

The details

The race: Nags Head Woods 5K

When: Weekend of Mother’s Day

Supports: Hosted by the North Banks Rotary Club, the race benefits various nonprofits supported by the organization.

Race features: The race offers a double 5K in which you run a 5k (3.1 miles) at 7 a.m. and then the race at 8 a.m. There is a mile-long kids fun run that takes place before the 8 a.m. race. All the 5K runners, who don’t do the double, run the 8 a.m. race.

The race medal. The “tree” part is see through, like a stained glass window.

Race swag: All runner receive a participant medal and t-shirt. Trophies are given out to the fastest military branch (the Coast Guards have won it two years in a row) and fastest school (Ocracoke repeated as the winner in 2017 and 2018). Age group trophies are given out. After the race is a great spread featuring grilled burgers and hot dogs, fruit and pastries, as well as water.

Course: The course is mostly a gravel path that has a lot of hills. There are course marshals who direct participants at various points and a water stop at the turn around.

Part of the course of the Nags Head Woods 5k.

The spectator’s view

I was a spectator of this race, as Mountain Kid 1 and Mountain Papa ran the 5k. Mountain Kid 3 was supposed to participate in the mile fun run. We’ll talk more about that later.

The parking lot at the Nature Conservancy is full of runners.

The race takes place on property owned by the Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit that owns land in order to keep it from being developed. We had to take a shuttle to the race, which was down a residential neighborhood. As we drove deeper into Nags Head, it felt like we were entering another land. It is nothing like the beach tourist area most people are familiar with. This was more like West Virginia or a deep forest.

The conservancy center itself is a little sparse, but offers a great map and other resources about the efforts being done there to maintain the wildlife in the area.

The race itself has corrals dividing people into three different paces.

The kids race is for children of all ages. The turnaround is marked by a sign. If you can read, or have a parent with you, it’s great. If you are old enough to go out alone but have trouble reading, like my son and several other fun run racers, you keep going. As far as I know, there was no one at the turnaround to make sure the kids stayed on track. My husband reported later that several kids who were participating in the fun run ran past the turnaround and ended up running the 5K.

So as the time ticked down for the 5k to start, my oldest son and I began the frantic search for my baby. A course marshal who had monitored part of the path, suggested that we may have missed him at the finish line. So MK2 and I headed back to the finish. As the 5k runners passed us, I told Mountain Papa what our plan was. When we didn’t see him, we went back out on the course.

To their credit the company that was in charge of the race, OBX Running, sent out people to help look for MK3.

About 27 minutes later, MK1 finished the race. Exhausted and hot, she let us know that MK3 was running the 5K with his dad. We were relieved.

Mountain Papa (gray shirt), Mountain Kid 2 (red) and another runner help Mountain Kid 3 cross the finish line of the 5K.

About 15 minutes after MK1 finished, we saw MK3 come toward the finish line. His brother ran out to encourage him as Mountain Papa and other runner kept MK3 going.

He finished. It was a hot and hilly race, but he finished. MK3 drank a cold bottle of water like it was the best drink of all time before turned his attention to the food.

“This .. is .. not .. what … we agreed to,” he said while panting as we gathered up post-race goodies.

The trophy table.

It is a good race, the longest running race on the Outer Banks. Despite the problems with the kids’ race, I think everyone had a good time.

We saw a part of the Outer Banks that we’ve never seen before. And it was just a beautiful as the beach.