Monday, November 23, 2009

An alternative to SouthPark's Turkey Trot

Maybe an 8K is too long -- or too short -- a race. Maybe you don't want to fight the massive crowds. Or maybe SouthPark is just too far, well, south.

Whatever the case may be, the fourth annual Lake Norman Turkey Trot is a smaller-race option Thursday morning that offers a 5K, a 10K, and a half-marathon (although despite the LKN in the name, the race is run in a Huntersville business park, nearly 3-1/2 miles away from the water's edge).

The Lake Norman Turkey Trot is not a tiny event -- as of today, nearly 800 runners total had registered across the three races -- but it's nowhere near the size of the hugely popular Charlotte SouthPark Turkey Trot, which is expecting 5,000-6,000 participants. And that's exactly the contrast race director Zahid Buttar is looking for.

"The mega-events leave athletes [with] the feeling of being lost in the shuffle," says Buttar, who organizes a variety of races in Florida and other parts of the Southeast. "We like the mom-and-pop feel of all of our events."

If you've done the 10K or the half-marathon here in past, you already know the most unique aspect of the longer races: It's set on a loop, so 10Kers essentially circle the 5K course twice and half-marathoners run a dizzying (and potentially monotonous) four laps. Of course, the good news is that runners can more easily lock into a groove and go, without having to worry about unexpected twists and turns along the route. Just be aware that the long downhill on the backstretch comes at a price: what goes down must eventually come back up.

Buttar told me over the weekend that they're not planning any changes for the 2009 event. He said they're providing Dunkin Donuts Munchkins as a post-race treat for runners, and asks anyone interested in helping out Thursday to contact him at ("Finding volunteers has proven to be the most difficult part of the event!").

More information on the race can be found here. Online registration deadline is 5 p.m. Tuesday; prior to that time, cost is $30 for the 5K, $35 for the 10K, and $45 for the half (click here to sign up). Thereafter, prices increase by $5 each and registration must be done in person. Information about the race beneficiary is here.

Half-marathon gun goes off at 8 a.m., followed by the 10K at 8:10. I'll be pacing my 8-year-old daughter through her first 5K, which starts at 8:20. This, by the way, underscores a potential selling point for Lake Norman's 5K: All but the slowest runners will be done before the SouthPark race's 9 a.m. start ... meaning you could be back home and preparing your feast that much earlier.


Anonymous said...

I ran my first half marathon on this course in 2007, and it can be a bit wearing on you, running the loop 4 times. But you also know what you're getting into and it's less crowded. We'll be out there running the 10k Thursday and looking forward to it!