If you're running the Carolina Panthers' BluePoints 5K uptown this Saturday morning, a piece of advice: Don't go out too fast.
I ran the course last Friday. After a little riser on Stonewall in the first 400 meters, it's all downhill for the next mile and a half or so. Then you turn right onto Morehead ... and for about nine-tenths of a mile, you'll be climbing. The "best" part: Right before you crest (on the bridge-crossing over South Boulevard), you'll hit a final steep patch that I heard a friend refer to earlier today as "the wall."
Fortunately, the last half-mile is mostly flat or downhill. But the point is, don't burn too hot too fast -- or you'll be sucking oxygen alongside others who are crashing on the march up Morehead Street in Mile 3.
Current forecast shows that it'll be about 72 degrees and mostly cloudy when the gun goes off in front of Bank of America Stadium at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, with a slight chance of a shower or thunderstorm. In other words, warm and muggy.
Anyway, here are a few other tidbits about the event worth passing along, thanks to Dana Thomas of the Panthers:
- Typically, the BluePoints 5K draws about 1,200 to 1,300 runners.
- The start and finish is on Mint Street by the East Gate. All race activities take place outside the stadium, but the venue does open to the public at 9:30 a.m. for FanFest. The event includes contests, entertainment and a team practice from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
- Despite what Stonewall between Church and Tryon looks like at the moment (that is, a complete mess -- thanks to the Duke Tower water main project), Thomas assured me that "at least two lanes" will be open for runners and the course will not need to be altered.
- Runners and their families are likely to see official Panthers mascot Sir Purr and members of the TopCat cheerleading squad out and about; the awards ceremony will be hosted by Mick Mixon (a.k.a. "The Voice of the Panthers").
- Race sponsors are Blue Cross and Blue Shield of N.C., the Dairy Association, Aquafina, Gatorade, Carolinas Medical Center, Russell Athletic, Wendy’s, 107.9 the LINK, and WBT Radio. Each will either contribute to the goody bag or provide something at the finish.
- All participants are advised to park in the Mint Street Parking Deck for $5.