Event Overview

Registration includes short sleeve (gender specific) technical tshirt, other swag (we are working on it), free entry to the runner expo to all and food and beverages at the finish.  Purchase a parking pass ($10) if you need parking at the race venue, but note:  There are only 900 available. If you don't purchase a parking pass or parking passes are sold out, we offer a free shuttle service to and from the event from the NetApp parking lot in Morrisville about 6 miles away. The shuttle can also be used by your friends and family for free (although runners have priority) to come see you finish your event!

Course Info

(Old Course Info page)

The American Tobacco Trail

The American Tobacco Trail is a recreational rail-trail located on an abandoned railroad corridor of the Norfolk Southern Railroad. Constructed in 1906, the original railroad traveled from Duncan to Durham near the New Hope River, transporting tobacco leaf from farming communities in Wake, Chatham and Durham counties for processing at the American Tobacco Company in Durham.


Construction of Jordan Lake in 1971 necessitated moving a section of the railroad corridor (from Bonsal to southern Durham County) several miles eastward, onto higher ground. Railroad traffic decreased after this time due to competition from interstate trucking. One of the last major uses of the railroad was to haul materials for the construction of the Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant near New Hill. With the railroad no longer in use, the tracks were removed in 1987


Local residents began using the rail corridor as an informal recreational trail, and in 1989, a group of citizens organized the nonprofit Triangle Rails To Trails Conservancy to promote the development of the corridor into a managed rail-trail. The N.C. Department of Transportation purchased the corridor from the railroad company in 1995 and subsequently leased the corridor to the counties to be developed and operated as a recreational trail open to the public.


It was officially named the American Tobacco Trail to reflect its historical roots, and planning and construction of the trail began. The trail is being built in sections, the first of which opened in 2001 in downtown Durham. Wake County opened its first, 3.75-mile section, from New Hill-Olive Chapel Road to Wimberly Road, in 2003. Wake County opened Phase II of the American Tobacco Trail in July 2005, extending the length from 3.75 miles to 5.5 miles. In 2006, the remaining one-mile section in Wake County was completed to fully extend Wake County's portion of the trail to 6.5 miles. Additionally, Wake County added a trailhead that accommodates 45 vehicle and 10 horse trailer spaces. Two restroom facilities were added to New Hill and White Oak trailheads.


Read more about the American Tobacco Trail.


Boston Qualifier
We like to recognize great accomplishments at the Tobacco Road Marathon! When you cross that finish line with a Boston Marathon qualifying (BQ) time or a personal best (PR for personal record), ring our celebratory bell so we can all share in your accomplishment! The bell is just beyond the finish line.

After you make it through the finish line, collect your medal, and refuel at our post-race party, stop by our awards table. We have a special Boston Qualifying t-shirt for you. Be proud of your accomplishment, we sure are!

Qualifying standards for the Boston Marathon are posted on their site and are defined by the Boston Athletic Association.

Keep in mind that 10 percent of Tobacco Road Marathon runners qualify for the Boston Marathon; that's why our event, conducted on the fast, flat American Tobacco Trail is known as a "Boston Qualifier."

Course Maps and Description
The Allscripts Tobacco Road Marathon features over 20 miles of the American Tobacco Trail (ATT), a former railroad line turned rails-to-trails.  The Altra Tobacco Road Half Marathon includes 8 miles of the ATT and overlaps with the southern portion of the marathon course. Both races start and finish at the USA Baseball/Thomas Brooks Park.  The course is mostly flat with only gradual inclines and declines ending with a fast downhill finish.  Typically, as many as 18% of marathoners qualify for the legendary Boston Marathon, and all runners benefit from that fast course and ideal temperatures (averaging in the 40's and 50's Fahrenheit).  It is a great setting for your personal record; we even have a bell for you to ring and celebrate your BQ or PR at the end!

Note:  While the course is called a "trail," it is NOT a trail like an unpaved single-track course.  It is more like a greenway and is wide enough to pass other runners throughout the course.

Both courses are USA Track & Field (USATF) certified.  (Certification numbers - Full Marathon 13106NWHalf Marathon 13105NW).  They start together and share the same paved road for slightly over two miles.  Upon reaching the American Tobacco Trail, the full marathon turns north and the half turns south.  For the Full Marathon, the north leg is a paved greenway with crushed granite on the side which gives runners a choice of surfaces to run on through mile 14, returning to the point where the two courses diverged.  From there, the two distances share a surface of crushed granite "compacted screenings," and both end returning the two miles to the finish at Thomas Brooks Park.  The races begin at 7:00 AM, and the course closes at 2:00 PM providing seven hours for either distance.  A total of up to 4000 participants will run these events.

Course Highlights:
  • Full and half marathon run the same course for 2.5 miles to and from the American Tobacco Trail (ATT)
  • Full marathon has 21 miles on the ATT and the half marathon has 8 miles on the ATT
  • Boston Qualifier (Typically 18% of marathon participants)
  • Mostly flat with only gradual inclines and declines...and a downhill finish that help runners achieve their fastest times
  • Few turns and minimal vehicular traffic on the course
  • Bell at the finish line to ring when you finish with a Personal Record or Boston Marathon qualifying time!

Pre-Race Expo

The Expo will be held at our host hotel, the Embassy Suites of Cary, located at 201 Harrison Oaks Blvd., Cary, NC 27513.

   Friday, March 15, 2019 from 3pm - 8pm
   Saturday, March 16, 2019 from 10am - 5pm

What to do at the Expo...

  • Pick up your Race Bib
  • Pick up your Parking Pass, if you purchased one
    (Tere is a separate table to pick up the parking pass after you get your race bib.)
  • Study the Course Map and Parking Instructions
  • Pick up your T-Shirt and any other race merchandise you may have gotten
    (Sometimes we have special merchandise as part of race registration promotions.)
  • Get a bag tag to put your number on a bag to check Sunday morning.  (Tags will also be available at the race site.)
  • Visit the vendors in the Expo
  • Vist the restaurant at the Embassy Suites hotel for a pre-race buffet.  (See details on https://tobaccoroadmarathon.com/where-to-stay/#buffet)
  • Get a good night's sleep Saturday night
  • Arrive early on Sunday to avoid any extra stress.
    - If you have a parking pass, we recommend planning to arrive by 5:30am.  You can always hang out in your warm car for a bit!
    - If you are being dropped off, we also recommend planning to arrive by 5:30am.  (The drop-off line can get long as it gets close to 6:00am.)
    - If you are using the shuttle service, we recommend planning to arrive by 5:00am.
  • Enjoy your race! 


After you get your race number take a walk through our Expo. There will be food and drinks to sample, snacks to purchase, new fitness programs to try out, as well as a chance to find out about some of the other local races in the area. The Raleigh area Race Director community is a very tight-knit group and we are excited to promote many of the other great runs from 5K to ultra marathons and relay events.

If you are a runner and planning on running with a pace team, look for the pacer both at the Expo to learn about the different pace groups and let them know you will be joining them. In addition, if you are planning on getting a post-race massage, go ahead and pre-pay for that at the Expo so you can get to the top of the waiting list after your run!

Many of our sponsors and other vendors will be in attendance offering samples and special discounts for purchases made during the expo. In addition, there will be some Tobacco Road Marathon and Half Marathon merchandise available for purchase only at the Expo. Check out our tips for the best Expo experience as well as enjoying the entire weekend.

Packet Pickup
Packet pickup is available at the pre-race Expo held the Friday and Saturday before the Sunday race at the Embassy Suites located at 201 Harrison Oaks Blvd in Cary, NC. Registration and changing race distances will be avaialble at the Expo if space remains.  HOWEVER, the half marathon normally sells out well in advance, and there will be no transfers TO the half marathon once all slots are taken.  If space remains in the full marathon, you may upgrade from the half to the full marathon for a $15 fee.

Packet pickup is NOT available on race day.  If this presents a particularly difficult situation for you, please e-mail info@tobaccoroadmarathon.com.

Also note:  Registration is NOT available on race day. 

See more information about the Expo on https://tobaccoroadmarathon.com/pre-race-expo/ .

Race Day Info
Both the full and half marathon begin at the same starting line at 7am. The course closes at 2pm and runners on the American Tobacco Trail or roads at that time will be picked up and brought to the finish line.  If you are within Thomas Brooks Park at 2pm, you will be allowed to finish

Walkers are encouraged to participate as long as you are able to finish the course by 2pm.  This time limit will be strictly enforced due to traffic concerns.  Runners crossing the finish line after 2:15pm will not receive a time.

See the full schedule at https://tobaccoroadmarathon.com/schedule.

Pace Groups

The North Carolina Roadrunner's Club (NCRC) Pace Team provides pace teams/groups for the full and half marathon with the full marathon pace groups matching up to the Boston Qualifying time requirements. It is free to join a pace team so stop by the NCRC Pace Team booth at the pre-race expo to sign up and meet your pacers.

Race Switching

Registrants who sign up for the full marathon but choose to only run the half will not receive a finishers time or medal for either race. You must run the race for which you are registered. Please read the FAQs section about Transfers, Switching, & Deferrals for details.

If you are registered for the full and do not feel like you can complete it, do NOT turn on to the half marathon course at the split.  (The trail does not have capabity/width to accommodate extra runners on the half marathon course.)  Instead, keep on the FULL marathon course until you get back to the split and then return to the finish – that will be about 17 miles. Please do not cross the finish line with your race bib; doing so will distort the ranking results for all other runners.  You will not receive a time, but you will enjoy the day and sense of accomplishing many miles!


It is an enormous effort to clean up after the runners due to the limited access to the trail. There will be garbage containers after every water stop. You may drop your cup on the ground within 100 yards of the stop but If you still have your cup when you pass the garbage can HOLD IT until the next stop. Do not litter gel packs/tops at any time! Drop it in the can or hold it to the next stop! Violators can be disqualified.  

Race Site Layout

The start/finish line area can be a busy place on race day. Take a moment to look at the general site map so you know the whereabouts of important things like Bag Check, the start/finish line, post-race food, the awards table, and more.

If you are looking for a good spot to meet your family after the race, we recommend you meet in the space beyond the beer garden and music or down the driveway across from where the port-o-johns are located.

Bag Check

We do provide a secure Bag Check area on your way to the start/finish line. You must provide your own bag. We recommend something secure with a zipper so that your personal belongings (keys, phone) don't fall out. We will provide tags for you to label your bag with your bib number.

While your bag is in an area that is monitored by volunteers and under the supervision of a Tobacco Road Board Member, we do advise against putting valuables in your bag. Tobacco Road is not responsible for lost or broken personal belongings.

Post-Race Massage

We have a group of independent, licensed massage therapists on hand after the race ready to help you relax. We highly recommend pre-purchasing a massage at the pre-race expo as priority is given to runners with a pre-purchased massage ($20 for 20 minutes).

If you are not able to purchase your massage at the expo, you will be served in the order in which you arrived at the tent. The massage area is located between bag check and the beer garden; you won't be able to miss it!

Expo Vendor Requirements
We are excited about the annual Tobacco Road Marathon and looking forward to another full expo with some of our favorite vendors around. Over 4000 participants plus friends and family attend the expo for runners to pick up their race bibs and t-shirts. This event is free and open to the public.

Note:  All expo space is sold out for 2019. To receive an application and information for the 2020 event, please email expo@tobaccoroadmarathon.com.

The Expo is held at the Embassy Suites at 201 Harrison Oaks Blvd, Cary, NC 27513 on:

    Friday, March 15, 2019 from 3pm - 8pm
    Saturday, March 16, 2019 from 10am - 5pm

Booth Space:

Each 10x10 booth space comes with a dressed six-foot table and 2 chairs; electricity is available for an additional fee, upon request.

Setup & Teardown:

Setup begins Friday at 11am; all booths must be setup by 2:45pm. You are free to come anytime between 11am and 2pm to setup. Expo halls are locked overnight and the doors are only open when a member of the Tobacco Road Marathon staff is present.

Teardown is from 5pm to 6pm on Saturday.  We ask that vendors ensure that someone is present at your booth until the expo closes each day.  Please do not leave or tear down early as this causes an incomplete experience for our runners.

For more information, send an e-mail to expo@tobaccoroadmarathon.com .

Elite Athlete Requirements

Potential elite participants must submit a detailed running resume before March 1 to elites@TobaccoRoadMarathon.com. All entrants will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Time requirements to be considered an elite athlete...

  Half Marathon Full Marathon
Men 1:12:00 2:32:00
Women 1:25:00 3:00:00
Marathon 1st 2nd 3rd
Overall $1250 $1000 $750
Masters $500 $350 $250
Military $450 $300 $200
Half Marathon 1st 2nd 3rd
Overall $750 $600 $450
Masters $400 $300 $200
Military $350 $250 $150


Pace Teams
The North Carolina Roadrunner's Club (NCRC) Pace Team provides pacers for the full and half marathon runners looking to qualify for the Boston marathon or a personal best.  (If you want to be a pace leader, see "Leading a Pace Group" at the bottom of this page.)

Pace Teams
Pace groups or pace teams are groups of runners that all hope to cross the finish line at a particular time. The group runs together with an experienced leader who will keep track of the pace throughlut the entire race.

One of the greatest benefits is the consistent pacing of a team to make sure you don't start too fast and then hit 'the wall'. Your pace group leader will be be running a consistent pace throughout the race, adjusting for the increased congestion off the start line and during the first mile of the race.

Every pace leader will be holding a steady pace throughout the marathon. These "even splits” are the best way to achieve your peak performance in the race. They will make appropriate adjustments for elevation changes and to deal with course crowding issues.  

Pace Group Times
Whether you are trying for a Boston Qualifying time, achieving a personal best, or just like running with a group we've got you covered.The Tobacco Road Marathon pacing groups for the full marathon runners seeking a finishing time from 3:25-7:00; the half marathon groups will be for runners looking to finish with a time of 1:40-3:00.

Full Marathon
Half Marathon


Note:  Pace groups faster than 3:25 subject to availability of pacer leaders.
Joining a Pace Group
It's free to join one of our groups. When you come pickup your race number, make a stop by the NCRC Pace group booth at the pre-race expo and add your name to one of the pace group lists. You are also welcome to just join in with a group at any point of time on race day.  

Around 6:30am on race morning, the pace group leaders will be assembling in the starting line corral with their pace sign in a brightly colored pace team t-shirt.  Join them in your pursuit of your time goal!

Leading a Pace Group
Are you an experienced full or half marathoner and want to help others achieve their goals?  We typically invite pace leaders from prior years to pace again, but there are usually a few openings.  Sign up to express your interest to lead a pace group on this form:

Where to Stay
The Tobacco Road Marathon host hotel is the Embassy Suites Raleigh-Durham/Research Triangle hotel located at 201 Harrison Oaks Blvd. in Cary, North Carolina.

The Embassy Suites is the location for our pre-race Expo and packet pickup held on Friday and Saturday in addition to being just minutes from Research Triangle Park (RTP) and Raleigh Durham International Airport.

They offer outstanding accommodations with convenient access to many Raleigh attractions. Catch a Carolina Hurricanes game at the PNC Center or indulge in a unique shopping experience at Cameron Village.

Guests can select a king or two bedded, two-room suites offering the space and freedom of separate bedroom and living rooms. Wireless internet access, a 37-inch flat-screen HDTV, refrigerator and microwave oven will make your room feel as like home.

Every day begins with a complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast, and enjoy contemporary cuisine in an open-air setting in the signature restaurant, Bistro in the Park. Stay active with the indoor swimming pool, lighted basketball and tennis courts, or use the fitness center with cardiovascular machines and resistance equipment.

We do not provide shuttles from the Embassy Suites. Please plan your own transportation to and from the hotel.

Book Your Room

The hotel will sell out so reserve your room online at...

Embassy Suites Group Page

...or call 919-677-1840 and mention the Tobacco Road Marathon (group code TBM) to receive our discounted rate of $129 per night.

Saturday Night Dinner

The Embassy Suites Bistro will setup a pre-race dinner buffet on Saturday evening from 5pm to 10pm providing soup, salad, entrees, and dessert for $12.95 per person. Check out the menu!  Anyone is welcome to eat at the hotel, but reservations are highly recommended so they can make ample amounts of food. Call 919-677-1840 to make your reservation today.


Standard check out time is NOON. All room keys are deactivated at noon on the date of departure. If a late check out is needed you must tell the Embassy Suites as there are a limited quantity of late check outs available.  


Flying into Raleigh

The closest airport is Raleigh Durham International (RDU). It is located about a 5-minute drive from the hotel, about 15-20 minutes from the race site.

Getting to the Hotel

Our host hotel is the Embassy Suites located at 201 Harrison Oaks Blvd., Cary, NC just off Interstate-40. For more information on booking a room, check out Where to Stay.

Runner Drop Off

There will be a runner dropoff area near the USA Baseball entrance on Green Hope School Road at Hilliard Forest. Signs and volunteers will guide you to the race site. Please be dropped off by 5:30am to avoid traffic backups.

Bus Transportation to the Race

Our buses are available to shuttle runners and spectators to and from USA Baseball from 4:00am until 2:30pm.

Event Overview
Registration includes short sleeve (gender specific) technical tshirt, other swag (we are working on it), free entry to the runner expo to all and food and beverages at the finish.  Purchase a parking pass ($10) if you need parking at the race venue, but note:  There are only 900 available. If you don't purchase a parking pass or parking passes are sold out, we offer a free shuttle service to and from the event from the NetApp parking lot in Morrisville about 6 miles away. The shuttle can also be used by your friends and family for free (although runners have priority) to come see you finish your event!


Note:  NC 540 south of NC 54 is a toll road (The "Triangle Expressway").  As of 2019, the fee is $0.65 (for NC Quick Pass or E-ZPass) or $1.00 (for bill-by-mail based on your license plate) when travelling south from I-40 to NC 55.  If you travel one exit further to Green Level West Road (which should not be required, but your GPS may direct you that way), the fee is an additional $0.81 (or $1.25 for bill-by-mail).  If you want to avoid tolls entirely, get off at NC 54 and follow your GPS.

Here are the locations as shown by Google Maps for USA Baseball, Thomas Brooks Park, and Net App. For the most accurate directions use those sites to plan your route.  A Parking Pass is required for parking (but not for runner drop-off) at the first two locations.

  • USA Baseball:  (Runner Drop-Off and Parking) Brooks Park Lane & Green Hope School Road, Cary, NC
  • Thomas Brooks Park:  (Addiitonal Parking a little further away from the start line) 111 Brooks Park Lane, Cary, NC
  • NetApp (Remote parking to catch shuttles):  7301 Kit Creek Road, Durham, NC

General Driving Directions to USA Baseball

From Cary:

  • Take High House Rd. towards Hwy. 55
  • Turn Right onto Hwy. 55
  • Drive to the next stop light, turn Left at the stop light onto Green Hope School Rd.
  • Drive approximately 1.5 miles, turn Left into USA Baseball

From Chapel Hill/Durham via Interstate 40:

  • Take I-40 east towards Raleigh
  • Take exit 278 for Hwy. 55 and go towards Apex
  • Drive approximately 7.5 miles, turn Right at the stop light onto Green Hope School Rd.
  • Drive approximately 1.5 miles, turn Left into USA Baseball 

From Pittsboro via US-64:

  • Take US-64 towards Raleigh
  • Take the Hwy. 55 exit towards Apex/Durham
  • Turn Left towards Durham
  • Drive approximately 4 miles, turn Left at the stop light onto Green Hope School Rd. 
  • Drive approximately 1.5 miles, turn Left into USA Baseball 

From Garner via US-70:

  • Take US-70 west towards Raleigh
  • Turn left onto the I-40 W ramp to I-440/US-64 W/Cary Durham/Farmers Market
  • Merge onto I-40/US-64 W
  • Take Exit 293A for US-1 South
  • Take exit 98B for US-64 W toward Pittsboro/Asheboro
  • Take the NC 55 exit towards Apex/Durham,
  • Turn Right onto Hwy. 55 towards Durham
  • Drive approximately 4 miles, turn Left at the stop light onto Green Hope School Rd. 
  • Drive approximately 1.5 miles, turn Left into USA Baseball

From North Raleigh via 540 (Note:  This route has a toll):

  • Take 540 west/south past I-40
  • Take exit 66A for NC 55 East towards Apex
  • Turn Left onto Hwy. 55
  • Turn Right onto Green Hope School Rd. 
  • Drive approximately 1.5 miles, turn left into USA Baseball

From time to time you'll find special information here regarding news and deals from the Tobacco Road Marathon. 

Event Deals 2