The inaugural Tobacco Road Marathon (TRM) and Half Marathon events were held on Sunday, March 21, 2010, with over 3,400 registered runners representing 39 States. The overall event has seen steady growth since then with record entries approaching course capacity of about 4,500 runners in 2014. The event weekend now attracts runners not only from across America but internationally as well. Steady growth has drawn sponsors to both races and enabled the all-volunteer TRM staff to steadily increase charitable contributions. In 2018, cumulative giving exceeded $900,000 to outstanding charities such as Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), various military veterans organizations, the American Red Cross, Wake County Parks and Recreation, Triangle Rails To Trails, and the YMCA. The fast, flat nature of the course combined with ideal running temperatures found during the Carolina springtime makes running our events very attractive to those seeking to qualify for the Boston Marathon or to simply achieve a new personal record.
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 NC 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 2000 in downtown Durham. Wake County opened its first, 3.5-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 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. Today, the American Tobacco Trail is nearly 23 miles long.
The American Tobacco Trail is a tremendous asset for our community, and your running the Tobacco Road Marathon helps support this resource. By the end of 2018, an extension of Cary's White Oak Creek Greenway will connect to the Trail near Green Level West Road (near the 4 and 9 mile markers of the Half Marathon). While this connection is not used by the Tobacco Road Marathon, it will provide local runners who are training for the race easier access to train on the Trail.
Join us in 2019 to be part of our Million Dollar year...a cumulative total of charitable given by you, the runners of the Tobacco Road Marathon.