Oak Barrel Half Marathon Race Review

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Since 2010, Mach Tenn Running Club’s Race Director Melissa Miller has created and organized the Oak Barrel Half Marathon, one of few 13.1-mile distance races in Southern Middle Tennessee. Runners love visiting Lynchburg to run this exciting course that starts and finishes at Jack Daniel’s Distillery.

Course Description

Mach Tenn Running Club race director Melissa Miller established the Oak Barrel Half Marathon in 2010 to meet an emerging need in local running community by offering an intermediate distance between 5k/10k and full marathon runs.

Its 13.1 mile route takes runners through historic Downtown Lynchburg and surrounding neighborhoods before finishing at Oaklands Historic House & Museum for an exciting finish line experience. Regular registration typically sells out within an hour – even during pandemic years such as COVID-19; charity spots may be purchased if participants would rather make donations directly to local nonprofits instead.

Start & Finish Line

This race boasts great volunteer support at all aid stations and offers plenty of water and Gatorade for each station. However, its course can be challenging; not for the faint of heart as there is one particularly steep hill known as Whiskey Hill which lies between mile 4 and 5.

Starting right off the square, this course begins in a challenging circular loop without any flat areas. There is one long stretch of straight road without spectators; however, this section only accounts for approximately one quarter of the course itself.

All finishers will receive an impressive medal made of wood from an oak barrel, as well as an attractive New Balance technical long-sleeved shirt (gender specific) as well as running hat and Swiftwick socks emblazoned with the race logo.

Do the Double Barrel Challenge by running either the 5K/10K on Saturday and Half Marathon/Full Marathon on Sunday! In doing so, you’ll receive exclusive merchandise as well as an extra medal – only open to the first 100 registrants of either event.

Course Map

Organizers take great care in selecting a course that provides both challenge and reward without becoming punishing for runners. Since Lynchburg is situated in a valley, there will be numerous rolling hills on this 13.1 mile run; however, they also want runners to experience Moore County’s scenic beauty as they go. One notable hill is Whiskey Hill beginning around mile 4. With steady inclines over about one mile and some steeper pitches at its final stretch – until eventually coming to rest. Following Whiskey Hill comes short rolling hills before steadily decending until arriving back onto flat ground at last mile 25.

The Oak Barrel Half Marathon and 5K races are USATF-certified events and qualify as Boston qualifiers! Both races begin and end on 4th Street near Old Courthouse Square with parking located throughout downtown Santa Rosa for easy accessibility.

RaceJoy is an official race partner of the Oak Barrel Half Marathon and provides live phone tracking, GPS progress alerts, and cheers for runners. To use RaceJoy before your race, download its free app ahead of time and invite friends and family members to follow your progress and send audio cheers; when you reach the finish line enter your bib number to automatically submit finish data for real-time scored results.


Oak Barrel Half Marathon began when there were few races of this distance in Southern Middle Tennessee. “We saw a need and responded,” according to Miller of Mach Tenn Running Club. The race now draws thousands each year; regular registration spots sell out within an hour of opening and charity slots are incredibly popular; during COVID-19 pandemic participants write out checks directly to local nonprofits for inclusion in exchange for race participation.

Are You Training for a Half Marathon? Join Oak Barrel Intermediate Training Program starting January 10th for $75 (includes group coaching sessions, workout plans & guidance). Register Here

Packet Pickup

The Oak Barrel Half Marathon takes place each year in Lynchburg, the home of Jack Daniels whiskey production and home to thousands of residents in Tennessee. Additionally, this small town serves as the starting point of one of Tennessee’s most celebrated road races: Oak Barrel Half Marathon.

This year’s race is scheduled for November 25th 2023 and registration slots have already sold out, however runners can still register as charity slots which allow them to write directly a check to an organization that benefits locally in exchange for their spot in the race.

As its name implies, Oak Barrel Half Marathon features several bars and restaurants along its course as well as an unforgettable hill known affectionately as Whiskey Hill.

Runners planning on running this year should make plans to visit downtown Santa Rosa at least 24 hours before race day for some pre-race festivities and pre-race activities. The race website features an excellent list of bars and restaurants that you should enjoy before running your event, so be sure to explore!

Packet pickup for the 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon runs is available Friday and Saturday; alternatively runners may opt to have their packet mailed directly to them during registration; this option provides a great alternative to dealing with traffic and congestion on race day!

for runners looking for an extra challenge can try their luck at the Double Barrel Challenge, which combines 5K/10K races with either Half or Full Marathon events. Participants who complete it will get exclusive race swag as well as medals.

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