As luck would have it, a great opportunity for a personal best is presenting itself this weekend in Dilworth: It's the Yiasou Greek Festival 5K, and its reputation precedes itself. For all the details, let's dish off a buncha questions to our friend Ashleigh Lawrence, who's coordinating the event for Run For Your Life.
Q. I don't think I've had a single conversation with someone about the Greek Fest race in which the word "flat" or "flattest" has not come up. Was the course designed specifically with flatness in mind, or did it just work out that way?
Ashleigh: It more or less worked out that way. Our partnership with the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and the Yiasou Greek Festival is what brought us to that location, but then as [Run For Your Life owner] Tim Rhodes was designing the course, he found that he had options that could make this course one of the "flattest" routes we could offer in Charlotte. So he ran with it and it has become a participant favorite.
Q. Flat often translates to PR opportunity. I'm sure this is helping to drive up registration, right? Where are you guys at right now in terms of numbers for the 5K?
Ashleigh: That does translate to PR – and this race is known for being a PR course, for sure. Interestingly enough, all of our races, both Grand Prix and non-Grand Prix, have seen great growth so far in 2009, so PR course or not, we are expecting awesome growth. Last year, we had just over 1,000 runners for this event, and we are expecting 1,300 this year. To date, registration is up to 750 runners, so we are right on target for 1,300.
Q. Why is the race held two weeks before the actual Yiasou Greek Festival, as opposed to the same weekend?
A: Actually, years ago these two events were on the same weekend, but then the Yiasou Greek Festival has become such a large and well-attended event, as has the 5K, that I’m sure you can imagine how difficult it would be to host both events at the same time. It was either select different dates or select different locations. Of course, we opted for a different date – it was the best option to keep a strong connection with the Festival and the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral.
Q. Cool bonus to get two free tickets to the Festival for registering. They're good for any day of the Festival?
A: Yes, they are! Any day, any time! You can get information on the festival and what’s going on when at www.yiasoufestival.org.
Q. How's the T-shirt?
The T-shirt is cardinal red with the race logo on the front in cream and white colors. Of course, we use the back to thank our title sponsor Presbyterian Orthopaedic Hospital, as well as the Grand Prix and event sponsors.
Q. Will any of the post-race snacks or activities, or the awards, go with the Greek theme?
The prizes – including the kids' prizes - we actually ordered through the same company that provides merchandise for Greek Festivals all over the country, including this festival. So yes, the prizes are true to the Greek Festival theme, for sure – but I can’t tell you what they are! The food, although it does not reflect the Greek theme, is still great! Just Fresh will be there along with Great Harvest Bread Company, Diamond Springs with Water, Powerade, Michelob Ultra, and Coca-Cola will have some soda for those that want the caffeine kick! Everyone will have plenty to drink and to eat!
Q. Who's the beneficiary of the race proceeds?
The Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, our host and coordinators of the Yiasou Greek Festival, will receive the race proceeds.
Q. Got parking recommendations?
The Cathedral parking lot will be open, however, it is not large so it will probably fill up quickly. Our best recommendations are to park on the surrounding streets, but stay clear of fire hydrants, residents' lawns and driveways. Keep in mind some of the residential streets behind and around the Cathedral are part of the course. So it would be wise not to clog up those roads too much with vehicles because it will affect the path for the runners in an event as large as this one. And remember where you park your car! People that are not familiar with the neighborhoods can easily get confused when trying to back track to their car after the race – it happens every year at this event!
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The 2009 Yiasou Greek Festival 5K starts at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 600 East Blvd. ($20 for the 5K through Friday, $30 on race day; K-12 registration is $15/$20). For more details, or to sign up, click here. To jump straight to the course map, click here.
My PR is 21:39 (and I'm actually kinda hoping to break 21:00 after rocking a 23:09 in the 5K at the tail end of Sunday's Lake Norman tri -- see next-most-recent blog entry). Wish me luck, and I'll do the same for you! As usual, say "hi" if you see me out there Saturday...