169 women head off down the trail after an Elvis impersonator got the Charlotte Run for Peace at Home started.
I don't know if organizers of the Charlotte Run for Peace at Home were singing the "rain, rain, go away" song earlier this week, but if they were ... well, it worked.
Not only were the 306 people who ran the 5K at McAlpine Creek Greenway greeted Saturday morning by sunny skies and temps in the very-agreeable mid-60s, the trails were virtually puddle- and mud-free -- astonishing considering all the rain we got in the first half of the week.
So first of all, kudos to the volunteers and the McAlpine folks for the great manicuring job they did. All that work, invisible to the participants, prevented the Run for Peace from being a messy, treacherous run.
It was my first visit to McAlpine, and I can safely say that if I didn't live 30 minutes away, I'd come back often. The course was circuitous but serene, and though the sun beat down on us as we traversed parts of the path around the pond twice during the second half of the race, much of the 3.1-mile route was completely shaded from the sun.
Most of it was flat, although about halfway through runners turned a corner and were suddenly confronted by a nasty little hill that at first I thought I might need a ladder to climb. The steep grade wound upwards rapidly -- and then seemed to drop back down even faster; footing was fortunately fairly stable, but you had to either do the quick-step on the descent, or suffer some serious pounding on the ol' knees.
The men's and women's start times were staggered by 30 minutes, and that made sense, given the narrowness of the trails. What didn't make sense was seeing a handful of men going off at 8:30 with the women. Also, hate to say it, but I don't think strollers should have been allowed. In one case, we saw a man and a woman pushing babies side by side in the women's heat, and it really clogged things up for runners trying to get by.
As for the amenities: Three porta-potties sufficed -- I never saw more than half a dozen or so people lined up. Bottled water and snacks were plentiful, though the area where all the sponsors' booths were located was the one place that was a little muddy. T-shirts are OK (not great, not bad), but the swag came in eco-friendly reusable grocery bags, and it was hard to complain about the full-size Snickers bars and bags of M&Ms tucked inside them.
I also liked the age-group winners' trophies, which were faux-cast-iron runners with bobbleheads (I actually got one of my own, for finishing third in the 35-39 group!). One complaint: Took awhile to get to the awards ceremony. It was originally scheduled for 9:15; not sure when it finally ended, but I had to hustle off right after I collected mine (to make it to a softball game), and we got into our car at 9:57 a.m. Ugh.
But in general, a fun experience. I'm really developing a soft spot for these more-intimate races, where you tend to run into a lot of other runners you know and the crowds are so small that organizers can make announcements without even having to use a megaphone.
I met several great people, including Jay Holder and Aaron Linz, two of the founding members of the new Charlotte Running Club I blogged about this week. They were the second- and third-fastest overall men (and Jay had a cold!), finishing in 16:21 and 16:29, respectively. My 8-year-old daughter was very impressed by how many readers of this blog approached me to say "Hello," and so was I.
A great morning for a very nice race. If you ran it, hope you had fun, too. Results are here, by the way.