CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Nearly 5,000 experienced and novice runners hit the pavement Sunday morning for a very unique race that literally wrapped around Charlotte: the Around the Crown 10K.
It was an event that gave runners a look at the city unlike any before - the first for a road race in Charlotte- something only a few other races across the country are doing. The part-race, part-run, part-walk celebration of Charlotte took place on I-277.
That’s right - part of I-277 was shut down to allow the thousands of participants to cover the roadway on foot.
The run started moments after sunrise at Romare Bearden Park, went through the the Third Ward neighborhood, then onto I-277. But it was the ramps and the slopes that tested the runners’ endurance, even for an avid runner like WBTV’s own anchor John Carter.
“You cross where the 3-mile marker was, then up ahead of you, you see ‘Mount Everest.’ It was just some big hill going way up," Carter explained, still catching his breath from the run. "I tell ya, what it was brutal but we made it.”
Despite the incline, Sunday’s run-time was no comparison to any Charlotte commuter’s rush-hour drive time. Just 32 minutes and 20 seconds after the horn sounded, Chad Crockford was the first to cross the finish line.
“I feel great," Crockford said after crossing the finish line. "It’s so cool to be able to run where normally you’re seeing cars, and going under the underpass and seeing people cheering for you all over the places.”
Despite the competition, Carter says the Queen City’s commodore took the crown.
“That’s what I think is so wonderful about when you do races like this - everybody is cheering everybody else on, they’re boasting everybody. They are encouraging you, everybody around you," Carter said. "You just feel that spirit.”
When plans for the Around the Crown 10K were first announced back on Earth Day, Organizer Brian Mister said the idea came from a place we can all relate to.
“The idea came from, I think what everyone has said, where you’re sitting in traffic and you say, I could get out and run faster... I could get out and walk faster than this," Mister said in April. "It’s one thing to drive 277 and try to look at it as you’re going past. But it’s another thing to be able to stop at a water stop and be able to see your city from that different angle, and changing that speed limit from 50 to 5 miles an hour.”
Mister came up with the concept for the race with his wife. And it wasn’t just the course that was different than other races Charlotte’s seen, it was the manner in which things were being done: “eco-sustainability.”
Not only were participants’ shirts made from 100% recycled materials, this was also a “cupless” race. Instead of providing cups of water at each water stop, runners were given recyclable cups at the beginning of the race.
The main beneficiary of the race was Partners for Parks, a local independent group that works to promote the quality of life in our area. WBTV was a proud sponsor.