Monday, February 8, 2010

Cupid 5K: 'One of the fastest finishes in N.C.'

After a spotty month for racing due to wintry weather, scores of runners will coming out of hibernation this weekend for what could wind up being the city's largest 5K of the winter.

The Cupid's Cup 5K and Fitness Walk -- set for Saturday in Dilworth -- has exploded in popularity since the inaugural event in 2005, when just a few hundred people ran it. This year, organizers are expecting 1,500-1,800 participants.

Part of it has to do with the fact that many runners are itching to tie chip timers back onto their shoelaces after a couple months away from racing (the last big Charlotte 5K was Thunder Road on Dec. 12). But another factor is the unique course.

Runners line up on East Boulevard, about 300 meters west of Queens Road, and head west up East. The first 1,000 meters represent a steady (but not too steep) climb, then the route turns right onto Dilworth Road East. After a quick downhill -- about 400 meters long -- everyone turns left onto Romany Road; another gradual climb leads runners onto Park Avenue briefly, then the course turns left onto a flattish part of Euclid Avenue.

Getting bored? Snap out of it, because here comes the unique part: After two blocks along Euclid, everyone turns left and gets back onto East ... and for a mile and a quarter, it's virtually all downhill to the finish.

"A strong runner who has paced themselves through the earlier miles can potentially run a negative split, which will set them up nicely for a fast time," says Scott Dvorak, race director and owner of Charlotte Running Company. "I'd have to say that's my favorite aspect of this course. I love to see the runners storming down East Boulevard!"

Dvorak says he would rate the course about a 6 on a 1-to-10 difficulty scale, but adds: "I would say that the course does have PR potential. The hills are gradual and come early enough that there is time to recover for one of the fastest finishes in the state. Anytime you have a race where the last one-third of the race is all downhill, there's potential to run fast!"

Some other details about the Cupid's Cup 5K, courtesy of Kirstin Ashford, director of communications for Carolinas HealthCare Foundation:

About the cause: The race proceeds benefit cardiovascular health and rehabilitation programs at Carolinas Medical Center, providing resources for patient education and outreach, as well as programmatic and equipment upgrades.

About the event's increased popularity: "We actually had 1,500 total participants last year, including walkers (and) folks who signed up day-of. In '08 it was 1,200, including volunteers. I think the event is popular because it is well-publicized; well-run -- no pun intended; features a great route; supports a great cause, in a month where you're actually thinking of 'hearts,' too; and sign-up time falls right when folks are thinking about healthy routines and New Year's resolutions. ... We have also had tremendous support from our presenting sponsor, Brinkley Financial Group."

About the couples and team categories: "(They) certainly add a fun element to the race. It's also a great way to encourage classmates, spouses, friends, and other family members to support each other and work out together. What better incentive than a persistent wife who says, 'Honey, ya better get off the couch and run a bit, or I'm going to run circles around you in that 5K'? Prizes include wine and heart-healthy candy -- perfect timing for Valentine’s Day!"

Odds and ends: The race also supports Heart of a Champion Day, which provides free cardiovascular screenings to over a thousand student-athletes in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools -- 1,200 last year, more expected this year. ... You can see the logo that will be used on the race T-shirts at right. ... And there will be food from Jersey Mike's Subs, coffee from Starbucks, and fruit and bagels from Earth Fare.

Registration for the Cupid's Cup 5K is $25 (or $20 for the 1.5-mile Fitness Walk). Register here.

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Anonymous said...

I have run this race a few times in the past and agree that it is a fun and fast race. As one of the slower runners, the out and back nature of the course also allows us to see the faster runners coming back down East Blvd.

Anonymous said...

I ran this race last year. First race after a stress fracture and found it to be an easy course. My first race of the year and pr for the year (uphill at first) but if you warm up on it if feels like nothing (a downhill fnish!). My favorite CLT race.

Dennis said...

This is a fun race with a great course, but beware there is no race day registration.

Anonymous said...

Will the race be postponed if it snows? Will they post an anouncement on the race website?