Wind, rain and sweat: OBX Marathon returns after two-year hiatus

By on November 14, 2022

Children nearing the finish line of the Fun Run with help from mom and OBSE Executive Director Debbie Luke. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
Christina and Catherine Close approach the 5K finish line. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
Outer Banks Marathon competitors began their 26.2 mile run in wind and rain at the Outlet Mall in Nags Head. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
The start of the Outer Banks Half Marathon in hard rain with a strong wind from the north. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
Half Marathon runners running past the Wright Brothers Memorial as they near the finish line. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
Linda Alms and Bill Sciannella cross the finish line of the Half Marathon. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
A young fan runs the final yards of her half marathon with Phoebe Remington from Apex, NC. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
Marathon runner passing Jockey’s Ridge State Park. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
Cheering on marathon runner Christian Christopoulos as he nears the finish line. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
Second place winner Joshua Nardin had the lead as he ran through Nags Head Woods. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
Marathon winner Mike Kapetanakis almost at the finish line. His winning time was 2:42:57.3. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
Women’s Marathon winner Jessica Barkley crosses the finish line. (Photos by Kip Tabb)
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The Sunday morning weather forecast for the 7:00 a.m. start to the Towne Banks Outer Banks Marathon and Half Marathon called for light rain and a 10-mph breeze from the north. The reality was a hard-driving rain and a 15-20-mph wind that one competitor described as feeling like needles striking his face for the first five miles.

Nonetheless, the first Outer Banks Marathon held in two years brought competitors from almost every state east of the Mississippi as well as Texas, California, Wyoming and other western states. There were also some runners from Canadian provinces —Quebec and Ontario — and a smattering of runners listing their home countries as France and Germany.

The Marathon and Half Marathon are the marquee races of the Nov. 12-13 weekend, but the Outer Banks Sporting Events (OBSE)-sponsored event included a full morning of races on Saturday, including an 8K, a 5K and a Fun Run circling the Wright Brothers Memorial and ending at the base of the hill.

The shorter races held on Saturday included a number of young runners, some as young as nine. Families also ran together for the Fun Run with everyone from toddlers and older children and parents dashing around the Memorial.

The weekend, though, was really focused on the Sunday distance races. With new courses this year, runners began the race at the Outlet Mall in Nags Head and crossed the finish line at the Wright Brother Memorial.

For the full marathon runners, the new course had its challenges — particularly spending more time on the hills in Nags Head Woods.

Marathon winner Mike Kapentanakis pointed to the Nags Head Woods section as the most difficult portion of the course. “I didn’t expect it,” he said. “I didn’t really look at the course a whole lot ahead of time, and when we got to the hill, I was like, ‘Oh, man. We’ve got to run up that hill?’ But I kind of collected myself and it evened out.”

Kapentanakis was not alone in his view of Nags Head Woods. Most of the competitors cited that part of the course for both the Marathon and Half Marathon as the most difficult.

Manteo resident Sarah Benson, though, who runs in Nags Head Woods regularly, felt that part of the race was where she picked up the most time, noting with the dense forest surrounding the course, the runners were protected from the wind. She said her knowledge of Old Nags Head Woods Road was invaluable.

“I knew where all the mud puddles were and how to avoid them,” she said. Benson finished first in her age group (65-69) in the Saturday 8K and second in the Half Marathon on Sunday.

Nationally, half marathons have been attracting more runners while marathons, with significantly more strenuous and time-consuming training, have seen a decline in participation. The Outer Banks Marathon weekend numbers reflected that with 922 Half Marathon runners at the starting gate and 313 Marathon runners on hand.

For OBSE Executive Director Debbie Luke the new course and the day went well.

“We can’t do anything about the weather. It’s the Outer Banks, after all,” she said. “But the new course is beautiful. The runners really seemed to like it, and we had a really good turnout.”

“Also, we really want to put out a special thank you to all the volunteers and all the sponsors. Especially Surf Pediatrics, Towne Bank and the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau,” she added.


Top Finishers and times

Marathon Men:

1st: Mike Kapetanakis — 2:42:57.3, Virginia Beach, VA

2nd: Joshua Nardin — 2:46:18.6, Chapel Hill, NC

3rd: Andrew Ploskunak—2:49:39.2, Aurora, NC


Marathon Women:

1st: Jessica Barkley — 3:02:31.7, West End, NC

2nd: Rachel Depasquale — 3:08:58.0  , Rowlett, TX

3rd: Christina Dam — 3:26:30.7, Crystal Lake, IL


Half Marathon Men:

1st: Caleb Masland — 1:18:00.0 Boone, NC

2nd: Peyton Hugate — 1:21:59.4, Lone Tree, CO

3rd: Matthew Santamaria — 1:25:10.2, Chapel Hill, NC


Half Marathon Women:

1st: Sara Thompson — 1:41:15.9, Kill Devil Hills, NC

2nd: Amelie Roy — 1:41:17.5, Kill Devil Hills, NC

3rd: Tara Beckwith — 1:44:17.9, Cary, NC

For full results visit Outer Banks Sporting Events.

See what people are saying:

  • Travis

    Dare County has created a few of these shoulder season events and they all seem to go through the same cycle. Bike Week. Big deal, lots of riders, tons of excitement but after a few years it has dwindled to a shadow of its formal self. Same with the Marathon. When it first started it attracted world-class top tier runners from around the world and there were thousands of participants. Now? Maybe a third of that?

    Oh well, time to drum up interest in a new event. Maybe OBSE can create a pickleball championship.

    Monday, Nov 14 @ 10:53 am