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  • September 05, 2019 7:29 AM | Anonymous

    The Mountains are Calling!

    In less than 12 hours, over 200 teams from across the Southeast will begin the grueling 208 mile journey from Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia to Asheville North Carolina in what is known as the Blue Ridge Relay!  They will run day and night with over 38,000 feet of elevation change through some of western North Carolina’s most beautiful views and vistas. 

    In what has become the most well known rivalry of the relay, the Charlotte Running Club Men’s Elite team will challenge co-favorite, the Asheville Running Collective in the annual “battle for the belt” for the title of the best distance runners in the state. 

    Asheville looks to avenge last year’s devastating losses in both the Relay and Charlotte’s Winter Classic 8k Championship in January, while the Charlotte team will look to take back and defeat the relay record of 19 hours, 12 minutes, and 3 seconds over the 200+ mile course (an average pace of 5:35/mile).  This is the equivalent of running from downtown Charlotte to Wrightsville beach in less than 20 hours… except for uphill the entire way.

    But that’s not the rivalry we want to talk about.

    There are few fights as old as time.  Good vs Evil, North Carolina vs Duke, Rocky vs Creed, Celtic vs Rangers, Cady Heron vs Regina George, and the most passionate rivalry of all… JITFO vs Stache and Dash.

    Once Blue Ridge teammates, Allen Strickland and Rob Ducsay (both Charlotte Running Club Board members) split ways in 2012.  Only the two men know the whole story, but rumor says it has to do with management discrepancies over their original team. 

    In 2013 both men started their own squads of runners, selecting the very best men and women across the Charlotte region to compete in the Blue Ridge Relay mixed division.  Stache and Dash won, but the rivalry continued with the trophy jug being passed back and forth for half a decade. 

    As Charlotte and Charlotte Running Club grew, the teams got faster and the rivalry became even more bitter.  The teams routinely finished first and second in the mixed division of the relay every year.  Soon, Allen Created a second team, “Lil Jitty” and the men were now more coaches than competitors on teams with members faster than they were. 

    Things changed in 2018, though, as Asheville brought a competitive team of their own.  Both JITFO and Stache and Dash were beaten soundly by over an hour!  Asheville completed the course in 21:59:56, less than two minutes shy of the Charlotte Running Club’s 2010 mixed course record.  Asheville vowed to come back the following year and take the record in 2019.

    Later that year at Triple C Brewery, the two men came together.  Like Billy Hoyle and Sidney Dean before them, they put aside their differences and focused on what they had in common… running, a love of craft beer,  fast blonde women (the two men’s better halves and teammates are now faster than they are) and the desire to be the best Blue Ridge Relay mixed team on the planet.

    This year JITFO and Stache and Dash are no longer.  The two men have joined forces to create the StacheFO CRC mixed super-team and StacheFO Fun team (also extremely fast, but more fun than the super-team).  The two men will hand over the reins to former teammates and compete in the Mix Masters division on a team of their own. 

    Later this evening at Triple C, a few of the team members will meet to talk logistics and the rosters will be revealed.  We’ll follow up with the full rosters and bios and follow all 4 teams along the way.

    by Franklin Keathley

  • May 07, 2019 12:15 AM | Anonymous

    Five months ago, City Manager Marcus Jones left City Council members "stunned", "outraged" and "embarrassed" by announcing the Cross Charlotte Trail would be $77 million short of the funding needed for completion.  Last night, Council applauded Mr. Jones and the rest of staff as he announced $54.4 million in his proposed budget to complete the seven unfunded segments already in the plan or design stage.  Jones also promised $2 million over the next two years to study and plan the final two segments of the City's signature pedestrian project.

    The future of the Cross Charlotte Trail has remained in limbo since Mr. Jones’ announcement this past January.  Council delayed a vote to award the contract for the South Charlotte Connector, effectively halting progress.  Engineers and staff scampered to bring about makeshift solutions to complete the trail. 

    Ideas such as way-finding signs and "bike boulevards" replaced multi-use paths and a place-making program.  Some council members talked tough on fiscal responsibility and others questioned why wealthier parts of town had their sections funded while some northern sections hadn’t even been designed yet.

    After taking a step back (and some heavy lobbying from groups like Carolina Thread Trail, Sustain Charlotte and others), Council finally decided to bring back the vote to award construction for the South Charlotte Connector in February.

    Charlotte Running Club spoke in favor of awarding the contract at Febuary's meeting, after which a spirited discussion ensued.  In the thick of it, Councilwoman Dimple Ajmera asked City Manager Jones: What happens to the rest of the trail if it takes years to find out the cost of just one section?  Jones responded with a promise to provide the money needed to fund the study of the missing segments of trail, a commitment he followed through with last night… and more.

    By providing funding for the seven designed segments of trail, Jones’ budget would complete the majority of the trail the City promised voters years ago.  By studying the final sections from Mallard Creek Church Rd. to the Cabarrus County line, Jones commits to continuing work on those portions of the trail while appeasing budget hawks by not playing the guessing game that led to the initial cost miscalculation.

    The budget process will continue over the next month, just in time for contract approval on the Brandywine to Tyvola section that would take the trail from Uptown all the way to Ballantyne and the South Carolina State line. 

    Article by: Franklin Keathley

  • February 05, 2019 8:15 AM | Anonymous

    In January, City Manager Marcus Jones told City Council the “additional funds” the city knew about since the conception of the Cross Charlotte Trail amounted to 77 million dollars.  Last night, he presented Council with two options:

    Option 1: Start over and re-evaluate how to build the trail in its entirety. 

    Option 2:  Continue with “Shovel ready”, funded projects and create “bike boulevards” to direct the trail on to streets for the unfunded sections of “trail”.

    Mayor Vi Lyles and six City Council members, Larken Egelston, Julie Eiselt, Tariq Bokhari, Gregg Phipps, Ed Driggs and Justin Harlow voted for Option 2.  Even though Councilman Egelston described the option as a “band-aid solution” there is no set directive to complete any other portions of the trail as of yet.

    What’s next?

    If the vote holds true, the council will start awarding contracts for three upcoming sections of the trail: Tenth Street to Seventh Street, Brandywine to Tyvola, and the South Charlotte Connector.

    First up: The South Charlotte Connector

    The South Charlotte Connector is the cheapest, easiest and most efficient portion of Cross Charlotte Trail.  It connects McMullen Creek Greenway to Little Sugar Creek Greenway to create a 15-mile trail network from Rae Road all the way to Tyvola Road.  Over 76% of voters approved the .7 mile section of trail as a separate budget item from the rest of the Cross Charlotte Trail in the 2016 bond cycle.  The trail will cost 2.3 million, within its 3 million dollar budget.

    Council will have to move fast, though.  Despite the South Charlotte Connector being a separate item from the original trail cost, under budget, and the most efficient section of trail, City Council refused to award the expiring contract last month.  In a rare move, vendors extended the bid.  If Council actually lets the bid expire the process will have to start over.  Each bidding process costs thousands of dollars and takes months to complete.

    Section 2: Brandywine to Tyvola

    The "crown Jewel" of the Cross Charlotte Trail, this section will connect Park Road Shopping Center to the Tyvola Road trail-head.  When complete, we'll have over 18 miles of Cross Charlotte Trail from Uptown to the South Carolina border.  The aforementioned South Charlotte Connector would also allow access from Uptown to McMullen Creek Greenway.  At a projected 17 million dollars, this is the most expensive dollar per mile trail.  The low terrain and creek crossings through developed neighborhoods make both property and construction expensive.  Council will vote later this year to award construction.

    Section 3: 7th Street to 10th Street

    Connecting Uptown Charlotte along this section closes the gap caused by 277 and US Hwy 74.  While not a glamorous piece, it allows access from north of 12th Street at a price tag of $4.3 million. 

    Other items of note:

    We also noted that even though Councilman Winston voted against option B, he still spoke in support of completing the trail in its original form.  In addition, Dimple Ajmera made a simple, yet salient point when told sections of trail in low-income neighborhoods had low priority because there were no other trails to connect to… “We have no trails to connect to because no one builds trails in low income neighborhoods”.

    At the end of the day we are almost exactly where we started in early January.  On a positive note, we will likely have 18 miles of continuous trail in the next few years.  Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the trail will be completed in its original form.  

    Troubling to us was Council’s continued dismissal of “recreational usage” of the trail.  Multiple times, council members argued which sections were for “transportation” and which ones were for “recreation."  The dismissive nature of the argument justifies “bike boulevards” or “painted roads” designed for scooters and bikes instead of actual greenway sections that protect pedestrians.   We will continue to point out that in a city of over 850,000 people, the Cross Charlotte Trail is for recreation, all non-vehicular modes of transportation and so much more.

  • October 01, 2018 6:00 AM | Mike Beigay (Administrator)

    We would like to congratulate all those that participated in this years Blue Ridge Relay.  For a complete list of results check the BRR website from the link below:

    2018 BRR Results

    Congratulations to the Charlotte Running Club Men for bringing home the overall win for the 2nd time in three years!  Below is a recap to how their race transpired.

    CRC Men's Team (LtoR):  Ben Hovis (driver), Mike Mitchell, Bert Rodriguez, Jessie McEntire, Walt Guyer, Andrea Gargamelli, Chad Crockford, Dylan Lowry, Chris Capps, James Perez, Cody Hodgins, Chris Raulli, Dan Matena and Mike Beigay (driver)

    The CRC Men's team have traditionally enjoyed the last start time on Friday at 1:30 pm along with their nemesis, the Asheville Running Collective.  This allows the team to sleep in their own beds Thursday night and travel to the start Friday morning.

    The lead up to the Friday departure is somewhat nerve-racking to the team captains who are making sure all the final logistics are taken care of; van rentals, meet up location, running order, misc supplies, etc.  Leaving Friday morning does not allow for very much wiggle room to the planned schedule.  Unfortunately the team would not get out of Charlotte without a significant challenge this year.

    One of the team captains, Dan Matena, had organized the van rentals through Enterprise whom we've used for the past several years.  Dan made a point to stop by the rental location on the day prior to the departure to ensure the vans would be available for pickup the next morning.  Dan was reassured that the two vans would be available the next morning. 

    Friday morning, joined by fellow captains Mike Mitchell and Ben Hovis, Dan received a phone call just after 6:30 am from Enterprise explaining that the two vans scheduled to be available for pickup had both been "damaged" during transit.  No alternatives were offered by Enterprise which was extremely disappointing considering they are a sponsor of the BRR.  Mike Mitchell quickly reached out to Avis at the CLT Douglas Airport.  They just happened to have (2) 15-passenger vans available, but their cost was nearly $1,000 more than the agreement with Enterprise.  With no other options, the team was forced to pickup the vans through Avis and were able to successfully make the trip to the start line on time.

    Rotation #1 (Leg 1 - 12)

    The race started on time at 1:30 pm with Bert Rodriguez leading the way. CRC got out to a quick 30-sec lead which soon evaporated after leg #2.  Over the next several legs ARC continue to grow their lead to over 3-minutes.  The heat of the afternoon, as the teams approached West Jefferson, was some of the warmest temperatures experienced in the races' 13 year history.  Even with the deficit continuing to grow, CRC men were still running strong and running very close to their predicted time.  At the end of leg 12, CRC fought back to cut the ARC lead to 2min50sec.  One thing this race teaches you is that it is never over until it is over!

    (photo above:  Jesse McEntire and Dylan Lowry cooling off in a creek after Leg #3)

    Rotation #2 (Leg 13 - 24)

    The second rotation for the teams began in Blowing Rock just after sunset.  It was at this point in the race that adversity struck the ARC team.  ARC Leg #1 runner appeared to aggravate an injury to his foot during his first run.  As often is the case with BRR, runners exert themselves to a point in which they are not able to recover.  That is one of the toughest challenges of this race to explain to first time participants.  While runners need to push themselves each leg, they also need to ensure they have what it takes to run-recover-run-recover and run again!  Everyone is different in how they hydrate, stretch, re-fuel and prepare themselves for another hard run.

    When a runner is not able to continue, everyone moves up one position.  This resulted in ARC runner #2 & #3 needing to run 4 different legs instead of 3.  More importantly this has a profound affect on mixing up the intended order in which runners are strategically placed.  

    This provided some hope to CRC to be able to take advantage of ARC's misfortune with some favorable matchup's on some tough upcoming legs...or so we thought!  Even with the change to their line up, ARC was able to extend their lead to nearly 6-minutes!  Even still, those on the team experienced in this race continued to encourage one another as ANYTHING is possible!

    Rotation #3 (Leg 25 - 36)

    Heading into the last rotation it was time for each runner to lay it all on the line!  There was no need to hold back now.  Leg #25 saw Bert Rodriguez up against ARC’s best runner, Ethan Coffey, who still had a 4th leg to run.  After leg #25 the deficit remained just over 6-min.  Leg #26 saw first time CRC runner Dylan Lowery up for his last leg.  He ran his best effort of the race and was able to pull back some time to get the ARC lead just under 6-min…it was just after 3:45am. 

    Next up was veteran CRC runner Jesse McEntire who had the toughest leg rotation of them all with just under 25 total miles.  Leg #27 was a long, grinding 9 mile leg.  Halfway through the leg, reports were that Jesse was rolling and was close to pulling back nearly 3-min of the 6-min deficit!  As Jesse crossed the line, the ARC lead was indeed reduced to around 3min20sec.  Leg #28 saw another veteran, Walt Guyer, up against one of the rookies for ARC, Tanner Cook.  Within 2 miles of the finish, Walt erased the deficit and CRC reclaimed the lead since leg number 1!  The wave of excitement through the CRC team gave the remaining runners a surge of adrenaline which they clearly put to use.

    Next up was Chris Capps with Leg #29 who continued to stretch the CRC lead.  Capps rolled the 6 mile downhill leg and handed off to Chad Crockford for Leg #30 with the advantage just under 3-min!  Chad also rolled a strong 4 mile route and handed off to Dan Matena for the infamous Mtn Goat leg.  Dan who has run the Mtn Goat leg several times prior was able to put an additional minute on the CRC lead as he handed off to James Perez…the lead was now 3min20sec.  It is extremely difficult to isolate one performance that made a difference in the race but the 9 mile downhill performance by Mr. Perez was special!  The previous CRC record for Leg #32 was 47:19 by Bob Marchinko (2011).  James clocked a time of 46:25 (5:04 pace!) which extended the lead to 9min38sec!!! 

    Leg #33 by Chris Raulli and Leg #34 by Mike Mitchell saw ARC pull 1-min off the CRC lead.  By this point, something catastrophic would need to occur to the CRC team for ARC to have a chance.  Yet again ARC had a runner that could not continue which resulted in yet another shuffle of their runners.  Leg #35 for CRC was Cody Hodgins while ARC saw Ethan Coffey take on his 4th leg.  As the final CRC hand off from Cody to Andrea Gargamelli for Leg #36, the lead was nearly 9-min.  The “Glory” leg into Asheville secured the win for CRC!

    Final hand off to start Leg 36; Cody Hodgins to Andrea Gargamelli

    The win for CRC was the 2nd in 3 years and 3rd Overall Title at BRR.  The rivalry between CRC and ARC remains extremely friendly and pushes each team to do their best each year.  Since 2006, teams from Charlotte (Team Mizuno, TrySports and CRC), and Asheville (Norms Maggots and ARC) have finished in the top 3 overall positions.  We look forward to the Winter Classic 8k where the two teams will square up once again to battle for “The Belt.”

  • August 31, 2018 8:25 AM | Anonymous

    If you run a lot in charlotte then you have probably had a close call with a motor vehicle.  It's a familiar story discussed after most long runs.  There is the person only looking left, the truck ignoring the cross walk, the car running the stop sign or the bus rolling a red light at the intersection.  Being a pedestrian in Charlotte does not just seem dangerous, it is.  With 19 pedestrian deaths through August, the city is on pace for its fourth straight annual increase in pedestrian fatalities, up 35% from this time last year. 

    In response, the City of Charlotte has adopted the Vision Zero campaign with the ambitious goal of eliminating pedestrian fatalities by the year 2030.  We talked with project manager Angela Berry to find out what the City is doing and what we can do as citizens and runners to help.

    Vision Zero started in Sweden in 1997. It is a strategy to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and severe injuries, while increasing safety, health and mobility for all.  What is an “acceptable” number of traffic fatalities? The answer is Zero.  When we asked Angela what Vision Zero was for Charlotte, she explained that the focus was on community engagement to develop a data-driven action plan where we can combine education and personal responsibility with tangible infrastructure improvements to make Charlotte a safer place to live.  That Action Plan began in May with the development of a communication strategy.  The plan will finalize in December after cross-disciplinary workshops, community engagement and an October draft.

    The process has already started with the “Vision Zero Task Force.”  Chaired by CDOT, groups such as CMS, Police, Fire, Sustain Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co. Health Department and others have been meeting once a week for the past month to workshop, brainstorm and collaborate to develop a comprehensive framework for the Action Plan (approved as a part of the City Council adopted Transportation Action Plan).  A mix of public, private and non-profits, each stakeholder brings their perspective and takes away their responsibilities from the meetings.  Using CDOT’s guidance, members collaborate so that the plan’s framework is ready for the next step: Community Engagement.


    From September through October, CDOT and the Vision Zero Task Force will be at public meetings, public libraries, pop-up events and OpenStreets704 to engage the public and ask them how they feel about being a pedestrian in Charlotte.  The first meeting is September 7th at Charlotte Powerhouse.  Berry says that “the goal is to go into the community and not make the community come to us”, so these are not Vision Zero specific events.  Staff will be piggybacking off other meetings to try to engage as broad a group of citizens as possible. 

    As runners, we have a unique perspective and opportunity to let city officials know how we feel about sidewalks, intersections, speed limits, visibility, signage and/or anything else you notice while running around our city.  If you cannot make a meeting, the City has created an interactive map for you to let them know about your experiences on Charlotte’s streets.  Just follow the link, then click on the map to add what you have seen that needs improvement or to be addressed.  While this data is for Vision Zero planning, If you have a more specific request you are adamant about you can also follow the 311 link at the bottom of the map intro page.  This will walk you through requests such as sidewalk repair, traffic calming, clearing right of way obstructions, etc.  


    While CDOT will use the information from the task force and community engagement to target problem intersections and know where citizens feel problems exist, Angela’s real weapon is the data.  A pedestrian struck at 20mph has a 9 in 10 chance of surviving a motor vehicle impact.  A pedestrian struck at 40mph has only a 1 in 10 chance of survival.  Vision Zero knows that accidents will happen; the goal is to eliminate loss of life when they do.  

    The City can perform street and traffic studies based on community input.  By combining the data with problem locations (lack of crosswalks or locations notorious for speeders), driver and pedestrian education (learning who has the right of way and how and when to use crosswalks), police enforcement, and CDOT improvements we can lower the risk of a traffic fatality.    

    After talking about Vision Zero, I asked Angela what we could do as runners to stay safe.  Her advice: “Make yourself as visible as possible.  Wear bright or reflective clothing and obey the rules of the road.”

    In efforts to make crossings safer, the City has added multiple crosswalks and pedestrian refuges across town.  They have added bright yellow signs and painted or texturized them as well.  We asked Angela how to use them: “As a runner, you have the right of way at an unsignalized crosswalk like those in South End… but that doesn’t mean you should run out expecting cars to stop for you.  Make eye contact with the driver and make sure they are aware you are going to cross”. 

    Our members spend hours each week (sometimes each day) running and walking around our city.  Use this as your chance to add input that may change an intersection, lower a speed limit, fix a sidewalk, or maybe even save a life. 

  • June 20, 2018 12:30 AM | Anonymous

    Ribbon Cutting Saturday, June 23rd at 10:00am

    Tucked away off Tyvola Rd alongside the Back Yard Trails sits a new 1.5-mile section of Greenway that connects with the existing 1-mile segment behind Huntingtowne Farms Park.  The new section may be Charlotte’s best stretch of Greenway close to center city.  I just have to get there.

    It’s 5:30pm on a Monday, and I’m off to check out the newest section of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway, Carolina Thread and Cross Charlotte Trail.  Leaving Dilworth by bike from near Uptown, I decide to hop over to Freedom Park and follow the current Greenway to Brandywine Rd (at Park Road Shopping Center) where a future section will take me all the way to my destination.  For now, however, I have to make my way up to Park Rd.  Traffic is terrible as usual and I’m getting honked at as I navigate down the narrow sidewalk during rush hour.  After a stressful crossing of Park Rd, I tight-rope a mile and a half to Tyvola and turn right as cars fly by just out of arm’s reach.  This is not helping me wind down after a hard day’s work.  Once on Tyvola, the trail parking lot is about a half mile ahead on the left, but I see new pavement and markers to the right, so cut in and scoot around and under Tyvola.  I’ve finally made it.

    The trail is nice, but I’m still on edge from the ride over.  Moments later, however, I notice something.  I don’t hear anything.  No cars, no people, just running water.  This place is pretty secluded.  My tension eases, I make a quick stop to lock up the bike and off we go.  The trail is flat, starting out through hundreds of what will eventually be large red maples and towering cherry bark oak trees.  Rows of Cherokee dogwood, amalanchier, witchhazel and other trees and shrubs grow along the path courtesy of Trees Charlotte.  The mostly asphalt and occasional concrete path follows one of the wider sections of Little Sugar Creek and soon crosses a red metal bridge donated by Blue Cross Blue Shield (where the ribbon cutting will take place Saturday). 

     Runners, cyclists and walkers are already out here and the trail is wide enough to accommodate them all.  Multiple access points connect to the trail as I cross under Archdale Rd and follow the trail for another mile and across a few more bridges.  I’m soon in Huntingtowne Farms Park and on an older section of Greenway that is one mile in length. I pass more parking at Huntingtowne Farms Swim and Racquet club and finally come to the end of the line at the local Community Garden.  The combined old and new trail is just under 2.5 miles in length start to finish and the south side’s parking is at the end of Ramblewood Lane.

     Running back along the new section I am completely oblivious to being so close to the city.  Little Sugar Creek looks more like a river and the red steel bridges give a distinctly rural feel.  If you live anywhere along the trail itself, or even across Tyvola in Madison Park and want a great 5 mile out and back I highly recommend it.  

    As for connecting back to Park Road Shopping Center and uptown?  That project is not scheduled to be completed until 2021.  City and County engineers and planners are working extremely hard to acquire land and complete design in order to begin construction by the summer of 2019. 

    For the ribbon cutting, run or bike on over to the first red bridge just inside the Tyvola Rd entrance at 10:00am.  If you drive, parking is available across from the Queens University Sports Complex on Tyvola Rd.  

    Some staff will be out Saturday if you want to thank them and a few elected officials such as County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour will be on hand as well if you want to remind them to keep funding the trail and greenway projects.  The festivities last until 1:00pm, but if you don’t make it out Saturday make sure to find your way down to check out Charlotte’s newest section of Greenway!

    -Written by Franklin Keathley

  • November 10, 2017 11:34 AM | Anonymous

    Check out this great article featuring our very own Billy Shue on his quest to win the Charlotte Novant Marathon!
  • December 31, 2016 8:30 AM | Mike Beigay (Administrator)
    Running my first marathon at 50, the 2016 NYC marathon, was one of the most amazing, challenging and memorable events of my life (right up there with childbirth and marriage), neither of which I plan to do again. 

    Marathon weekend was filled with excitement beyond the rush of just being in NYC.  From meeting Michael J. Fox at the pre-race dinner (I ran for a cause close to my heart, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research) to walking into Meb Keflezighi giving a live interview mid-day in Central Park.  If that wasn’t enough thrill, I also received a panic call from my sister, Wendy, that she might miss her train into NYC from DC.  After she arrived, I knew everything was going to be ok.  She had a fat head made of me and was ready, along with my husband, Ken, to cheer me on through all 5 boroughs and over all 5 bridges. 

    On marathon morning, my team bus left promptly at 5:30am for Start Village in Staten Island.  Start Village was divided by colors then corrals and waves.  My wave didn’t start until 11:00am so I had enough free time to burn through all my adrenaline before the race began.  Fortunately, I met up with some NYC marathon experienced Team Fox members and we slumbered in the runner’s tent eating (wanted DD donuts) nutrition bars, drinking water and Gatorade and waiting.  We had so much fun talking for hours and getting to know one another, I almost forgot why I was sitting bundled up on blankets outside (45 degrees) in my pajamas (over my running clothes) surrounded by 1000s of people from all over the world. 

    Finally, it was time for me to visit the port-a-potty one last time, donate my non-running layers and line up like cattle.  The cannon went off and I slowly made my way to the start.  The climb up the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was breathtaking as the magnificent view of the Manhattan skyline was waiting at the top…… was then I realized this was what I was waiting for and mentally prepared for what lay ahead.  The weather was perfect, I trained hard since July and felt ready to face my marathon fears and take on Manhattan, until mile 4.  My left calf tightened; like a ball formed inside.  Just before taper time during training, I developed and was getting PT for shin splints and hadn’t run more than 6 miles in one run since.  My worries going into the marathon were related to my shins, not my calves.  While running, I tried to stretch my calf.  It felt better for a few strides then balled up again.  I didn’t know if this would progressively get worse and ultimately stop me in my tracks.  Despite being surrounded by 1,000s, I didn’t have anyone to ask what to do, so I did what I knew.  Stop periodically to stretch it out.  It helped but I was stretching intermittently for all 26.2.  Despite hitting most of my ambitious training pace targets for a 4:30 finish, I knew after mile 4, this goal needed to be tweaked. 

    After crossing the Verrazano Bridge, I was in Brooklyn.  The crowd support was amazing and before I knew it, I would see Ken, my sister and fat head at the well-organized orange Team Fox cheering section at mile 7 (on the left).  I was running on the right and no one was crossing over to the left side of the road.  It was as if there was a wall instead of a median.  Perhaps, it was because the NYPD officers were standing on the median for these miles.  I knew if I didn’t cross I would miss seeing Ken and Wendy but this was not the time to break the law (not that there is ever a right time), so I asked if I could cross the median.  They waved me over.  I did this at mile 6 in preparation for seeing my family and the Team Fox cheering section.  The Team Fox cheering section was alive with bells ringing, high 5’s and personal cheers for me passing by.  No sign of Ken or Wendy.  This was the fuel I needed to forget about my calf and run harder.  Where the hell were they?  My sister used to live in Brooklyn and I met Ken living in Manhattan, they knew their way around.  They were only planning to cheer from 2 stations (mile 7 and 18) and they didn’t even make it to the first.  I could not wait to hear their side of the story and I couldn’t wait to tell them mine.  I later found out, they were on the wrong side of the road at first then joined the cheering station but I had already passed.  They blamed the tracking device too.  We are still trying to figure out what happened.

    Before I realized it, I had crossed another bridge and was in Queens.  Still running slower than my goal pace but enjoying the cheering crowds, getting high 5’s, jamming with live music and reading funny signs.  I ironed my name on the front of my Team Fox singlet and my grandma’s and father-in-law’s name on the back as I was running in memory of them.  Crowds cheered my name and it really helped me when the going got tough.  My legs were tiring near mile 15 as I approached the 59th street bridge (3rd out of 5 bridges and my first wall).  I thought I was running up the bridge but was going so slow I was keeping pace with walkers next to me.  Therefore, I stopped to walk up the rest of the bridge and jogged down.  I thought I could buy some time on the declines but they hurt my legs too.  At some point, I had caught up with the 5-hour pace group and thought for a brief second that they must be running slow too but then remembered that I never saw my 4:30 pacer and I was the one crawling.  I did not have someone to run with but did find some runner dude that I was keeping pace with on and off for at least ½ the marathon.  He was nice on the eyes and helped me stay “pace” focused. 

    I was now in Manhattan, the same borough as the finish, which was a tease as I still needed to run over two more bridges, one to the Bronx and then another back to Manhattan for the finish.  I was also trying not to get my hopes up that my hubby, Wendy and fat head were going to be waiting with open arms at mile 18.  I cried when I saw them, so relieved and stopped for hugs and pictures.  Their support (literally holding me up for a few seconds) and amazing words of encouragement gave me strength to push forward. 

    I read about hitting the wall at mile 20 and I did but it was my second wall.  I slowed further and adjusted towards a realistic finish time.  Time in the Bronx was brief as I approached my final bridge into Manhattan.  In Manhattan, I loved running down 5th avenue (really up) heading towards where I used to live, shop and the finish in Central Park.  At mile 24, I just wanted to be done.  I saw the light at the end of the tunnel (it was not the sun as it had started to set), was shivering with chills but picked up my speed and kept this pace until I crossed the finish.  I finished in 5 hours, 14 minutes at a 11:57 pace.  I have never averaged a pace this slow in training or run this far but never felt as accomplished as I did when I crossed the finish line.  Goal met! 

    Walking to the exit needed a training plan of its own.  I could hardly walk and had no idea it would be this difficult despite being warned.  My body has never endured anything like this before. I received my finisher medal with pride, my swag bag filled with nutrition then had to walk for what felt like another mile.  I was in the exit lines to receive my luxury flannel lined poncho then meet Ken and Wendy at our previously arranged meeting spot hoping they did not give up on me.  The meeting spot was further than I wanted to walk so I reached for my phone to text them and meet ½ way (it’s the least they can do).  It was dead (I didn’t even realize the music had stopped), I had no money and it was getting darker.  I just wanted to cry.  Within seconds, I pulled myself together and trudged toward our meeting spot.  He was there with open arms but no sight of my sister.  I finished too late, the exit took too long and she had to catch her train home.  Boy, was I ready to catch a cab back to the hotel!  Ken helped me come to my senses that there were no cabs (what? No cabs in NYC?) Nope, not after the marathon.  We headed to the subway and I could barely walk up a curb let alone the 100 stairs to the turnstile.  Everyone else had the same idea and it was packed.  I must have looked like I was going to fall over so someone offered me a seat on the train.  Thank-you stranger! 

    Ken and I stayed one extra day.  We went back to Central Park to walk the finish and Runner’s Pavillion taking pictures along the way.  It was during this stroll that we bumped into Meb Keflezighi giving a live interview. We stood within feet of him.  Only in Manhattan!  He was sharing advice when running a first marathon.  He said not to have a goal time; that your first is just a baseline.  My running friends have told me the same thing but it didn’t make sense until I heard it from Meb.  I can’t imagine my next marathon weekend anywhere else exceeding my “baseline” experience.  NYC marathon, I’ll be back.  Until then, I’m getting ready for the CRC Winter Classic! 

    Thank-you CRC for giving me an opportunity to share my life changing experience.  Never say never!  If you made it this far, thank you for reading this “recap” and to all members that supported me along the way! 
  • December 04, 2016 3:30 PM | Mike Beigay (Administrator)

    Below is why I decided to use a coach for the first time for my 9th marathon. While my main motivating factor was the desire for a faster time (BQT), by far the most important benefit was that I remained healthy. In my experience, a qualified coach in many forms (group, individual, online, etc.) can help you enjoy running more and reach your goals.

    I ran my first marathon in college because I needed motivation to exercise; signing up for a race 7 months away seemed like a bold yet ridiculous plan. I think my original goal was to keep running and not stop. Later in my training, I found out that Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs was running the NYC Marathon that same year, so I modified my goal and just wanted to beat Puffy. I trained completely solo from a program I got off the marathon website. I remember getting really caught up in the entire marathon race excitement; my family traveled to Richmond to see me, and I went out way too fast for my first race. But I guess sometimes there is strength in ignorance. I thought it was supposed to hurt like hell the entire way. I surprised myself with a 3:15.

    I didn’t even know about the Boston Marathon until I talked to a pacer after my race. I thought that a bigger race, one I would need to qualify for, seemed even more exciting. So I made qualifying for Boston my goal. I signed up for another marathon the following spring. I did worse. I got injured early in training and didn’t know better, so I kept the same goals I had started with. When marathon day came, I went out at the same pace. Soon after, I entered another race. It was even worse than the previous one.

    This cycle continued for the next 10 years. I could run a pretty good half marathon--or string together a month of solid running. It seemed that the second I felt like I was bursting through a plateau, I would be laying on the PT table within a week. I thought my body couldn't handle speed workouts and that I could cross-train my way into marathon shape. I think anyone who strives to better themselves will come to the ultimate conclusion: “I’ve peaked.”

    Deep down I thought that if I could stay healthy for 3-4 months, I could BQ. I asked around about training programs. As I planned my 9th marathon, I thought I’d complete a form of the plan I had used before: find a training plan, water it down, and adapt it to my comfort zone; make the easy runs harder, the hard runs really hard (when I felt like it) and rely on getting super jacked up for the race itself. There are many types of information and coaching plans out there--books, online coaching, group programs, individual, etc. Each are situated towards a particular budget, goals, and motivational style. I knew that I needed a plan of what to do each day, but also someone to prevent me from deviating. Otherwise I knew I would fall into the trap repeating the same 6-mile loop at relatively the same intensity.

    I ended up getting in contact with Mike Moran, Manager at the Dilworth Charlotte Running Company. Mike was developing a summer training program (26BQ) designed specifically to get a BQ at a fall race. Our initial conversation was good, with both sides trying to influence the other: Mike trying to convince me to change Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon as my goal race and me trying to lower the mileage, limit the number of days, no track work. I quickly realized that if I did my own thing, then I would get the same results.

    Mike gave me an overview of the plan: “Every run has a purpose. You don't need to fully understand why it works.” Then, Mike laid out the high level plan for the training program. The schedule each week was one tempo or track day, one middle-long run, one long run, and two other middle runs. He also had the entire 15-16 weeks planned out, but gave me the workouts in 2 week increments.

    At first I was skeptical of this and the first few weeks of the program were really hard. I wasn’t used to a faster run each week.  It was early summer and I struggled through my first few attempts at tempo runs. I figured out how to make a Garmin watch set a pace range that chirps (happy/sad) when you are fast/slow. During the first 2-3 weeks of runs that had a specific pace, I heard nothing my sad chirps. It was the middle of the summer and it seemed that I couldn’t wake up early enough to beat the heat. Then, suddenly, a turning point; I started to feel better. The workouts got more intense but manageable. Once I felt comfortable with tempo runs, then it was to the track. Since I was preparing for a hilly course, I started to run as many hills in South Charlotte as possible.

    Ultimately, I grew to enjoy getting the piecemeal workouts. It allowed me to focus on each run, be present, and not worry about a more difficult run later in the program. I knew that I would become a better runner by then.

    To put it short, having a coach gave me a plan that I couldn't make myself. I put complete trust that if I performed on task, I would progress as planned. I would believe in the process and not try to take shortcuts or go after a more ambitious goal, thus putting the current one in jeopardy. Mike helped me become more consistent and pushed me to work hard when the plan called for it. By late summer, it felt like the program was holding me back from the progress I wanted to make. I now realize that was the entire point. I was able to run harder than I ever thought and also stay healthy by staying within the plan.

    Last month, at the City of Oaks Marathon in Raleigh, I held on and finished in 2:59.02--my first marathon staying healthy throughout/after training, my first BQ, my first sub 3, a better race than I ever thought possible for myself. Coach Mike gave me the plan and my wife Mary Jordan gave me the support I needed.  

    Thank you.


  • September 13, 2016 9:34 PM | Anonymous

    The word epic can be defined as “a story about exciting adventures” or something that is “very great, difficult, or impressive.” However, in recent years the word epic probably became the most overused word by the younger generation. Everything became “epic”, from cars to movies to haircuts to tests and even fails.

    Special Thanks to Charlotte Running Company and Donny Forsyth for Sponsoring the Team Singlets  

    At the conclusion of the 2016 Blue Ridge Relay, grown men ranging in age from twenty-two to forty-two, were using the term to describe the previous twenty hours. I do believe it’s the perfect word to describe the battle that had taken place between two distance running groups from North Carolina.

    The Asheville Running Collective and The Charlotte Running Club began their rivalry at the 2011 Blue Ridge Relay. That year after twenty plus hours of running, the guys from the ARC won by a mere two minutes and ten seconds. Both teams smashed the former course record, and that began a string of “belt races” between the two groups.

    After that year a WWF World Championship belt was purchased from Toys “R” Us for about $23. This belt has become a tradition and symbol of honor and pride, worth well more than its purchased price. The belt represents the friendly competition and sportsmanship between the two teams.

    So, why was the 2016 race an epic one? To make a long story short . . . after thirty-six different legs covering 206 miles, almost twenty hours of running, twelve different individuals on each team running three legs apiece, and the two teams starting at 1:30 PM on Friday afternoon (90 min. after the next fastest teams), ARC and CRC finished just ten seconds apart at the finish line in Asheville, NC.

    It’s truthfully hard to understand how two groups can cover that distance and time with so many different individuals and finish so closely together. The competition between the two teams brings out the best in each and every member. None of the guys that ran are professional runners. Some have been running for well over twenty years, and others are recent college graduates. At any stage in a competitive runner’s career, motivation is important. For the Asheville Running Collective and the Charlotte Running Club, the Blue Ridge Relay is one of the major motivating factors come summer time each year.

    Captains Frankie Adkins of Asheville and Mike Beigay of Charlotte spend a lot of time preparing during the preceding months. They are gathering intel, putting the team together along with alternates, and getting all the final details from the Blue Ridge relay race director. The amount of work they do certainly doesn’t go unnoticed.

    Team members were finally announced the week of the relay via Facebook, but it wasn’t until about 12:45 PM on Friday that the running orders were shared with one another. At that point each team began the obvious conversations about the matchups. However, it’s the Blue Ridge Relay and after years of competing, both teams know that anything can happen.

    As 1:30 PM approached, the lead off runners got in their warm ups, and the initial casual conversations between the two teams switched to silent head nods and low key wishes of luck. The competition was on and it was time to get serious. 

    How it played out.

    Leg 1: Bert Rodriguez of the Charlotte Running Club blasted an 18:18 on the leadoff 3.9 miles downhill to open up about a 50 second gap.

    Leg 2: Jesse McEntire, CRC, increased the lead to 1:38 over the 7.5 miles. However, Asheville’s Pat Woodford closed the gap some during the final couple miles.

    Leg 3: A new course record was set by CRC’s Ryan Jank, running 27:22 for 5.2 miles. He was able to increase the lead by about another minute. The lead grew to about 2:37.

    Leg 4: A pretty even leg between CRC’s Chris Capps and ARC’s Brent Schouler. Capps was able to put another 16 seconds up for CRC. The lead was now just over 2:50.

    Leg 5: Mark Driscoll of Asheville closed the gap through the streets of West Jefferson. He knocked off 1:15 on the 4.8 mile leg. CRC’s lead decreased to 1:35.

    Leg 6: Charlotte’s Mike Mitchell and Asheville’s Chass Armstrong tackled the newly lengthened leg 6. Already a difficult leg, now became more of a grind. Chass gained another 1:15 on Mitchell. The gap was now only about 20 seconds after the first van completed their legs.

    Leg 7: Both Ed Schlichter and Phil Latter ran well for their short 2.3 mile run, and CRC’s Schlichter increased the lead ever so slightly. CRC was now up 28 seconds.

    Leg 8: Rookie Reed Payne of the Charlotte Running Club increased the lead by around 1:00 over the difficult 5k. Lead now up to about 1:25.

    Leg 9: Asheville’s Caleb Masland closed the gap by about 50 seconds over leg 9’s 4.6 miles. The lead was down to around 30-35 seconds.

    Leg 10: CRC’s Ben Hovis increased the lead by just over a minute, now 1:42, over the 5.3 miles along the South Fork New River.

    Leg 11: Shiloh Mielke of the ARC closed the gap over this 8.4 mile leg by around 25 seconds. The lead was approximately 1:15.

    Leg 12: Another newcomer, Mike Tamayo of the CRC team, crushed a 10k along the Blue Ridge Parkway in 32:40, just missing the course record. The lead was now up to 3:47 for CRC after the first full rotation.

    Leg 13: Bert Rodriguez had another solid leg heading into Blowing Rock, NC. Over the 9.3 miles, Bert was able to increase the lead by just over a minute and a half. The lead had now been pushed to over 5:00 for Charlotte.

    Leg 14: Pat Woodford of the ARC lowered the lead to back under 5:00, as he was about 45 seconds quicker over the 6.2 mile leg. Next up was the huge 10.5 Grandfather Mountain run! The lead was about 4:45.

    Leg 15: Ryan Jank of the CRC and Alex Griggs of the ARC ran almost identical times rolling up this difficult 10.5 mile run. Despite being separated by almost 5:00, Jank only put 8 seconds on Griggs over this grueling leg.

    Leg 16: Chris Capps, CRC, ripped the 3.2 downhill leg following Grandfather. He rolled 4:40 pace, going 14:58 for the leg. However, Schouler of the ARC wasn’t far behind with his 15:20. The lead had jumped back up to just over 5:00, about 5:15.

    Leg 17: ARC’s Mark Driscoll once again ate into the lead, knocking off about 50 seconds over 2.9 miles. CRC’s lead was now just under 4:30.

    Leg 18: Closing out Van 1 for the 2nd time around, Chass Armstrong, ARC, took about 2:00 off of the lead over this 5 mile leg. Lead now down to about 2:30. Driscoll and Armstrong were able to impressively cut it in half over only about 8 miles of running.

    Leg 19: Asheville’s Phil Latter chipped away a bit more, taking 20 more seconds off the CRC lead over this 5.8 mile leg. Lead now down to around 2:10.

    Leg 20: CRC’s Reed Payne lengthened it back out by just over 50 seconds during the 3.8 mile run. So it appeared the lead was just over 3:00.

    Leg 21: Over the next two legs, classic Blue Ridge Relay troubles occurred for CRC. Caleb Masland of the ARC ran a great leg over a nasty 8 miles, while CRC’s Chase Eckard dealt with some cramping in his legs. The lead changed hands for the first time, as ARC took a lead of close to 1:00.

    Leg 22: Then, CRC’s Ben Hovis missed the first turn of leg 22, and added on almost ½ a mile to this short 2.6 mile leg. Stu Moran of Asheville was able to increase the overall lead to around 4:00 after the mistake by Hovis.

    Leg 23: Dan Matena of the CRC took it upon himself to get his team back in the mix. Matena chopped off just over 2:00 during the 6.6 mile run. The lead for ARC was just over 2:00 now.

    Leg 24: CRC’s Mike Tamayo then rolled 19:16 over the next 4 miles to cut another 1:30 off the lead. So after two complete rotations, ARC had a lead of just above 40 seconds.

    Leg 25: Now it was time for each athlete to run their last leg of the competition. CRC’s Rodriguez lost some ground to ARC’s Javan Lapp early in the leg, but was able to cut back about 15 seconds in the end. The lead was in the 30 second range.

    Leg 26: Jesse McEntire of Charlotte, after a self-proclaimed rough leg 2, went chasing after ARC’s Pat Woodford. On a quick decent about halfway into the leg McEntire caught Woodford and now they were running stride for stride. They competed well over the final climbs of this run and Woodford handed off about 2 strides in front. So, after 26 legs and about 13 hours and 23 minutes of racing, the two teams were right back where they started. All tied up.

    Leg 27: This leg proved to be one of the most insane of the race. Both Jank, CRC, and Griggs, ARC, were coming off of amazing runs up to Grandfather Mountain. Now, they were neck and neck with 9 miles to cover. Jank pulled away after a couple of miles together. However, late in the race, with about ½ a mile to go both athletes were having real difficulty. Jank was beginning to weave across the road and Griggs was complaining of both legs seizing up on him. The lead was about 90 seconds with ½ mile to go, but by the time they both stumbled to the exchange zone, everything was tied up once again. Both Jank and Griggs collapsed to the ground and had to receive medical attention. Thank goodness both athletes were okay in the end! The spirit of the competition was definitely represented by both athletes.

    Leg 28: CRC’s Chris Capps and ARC’s Brent Schouler took off together into the darkness of the night with 8 miles of road ahead. Capps was able to gain the lead for CRC and handed off about 26 seconds ahead of Schouler. This was officially the 3rd lead change.

    Leg 29: Asheville’s Mark Driscoll went out hard, catching CRC’s David Willis a couple miles into their 7 mile leg. The two then ran next to one another for a couple miles before Driscoll put the hammer down and was able to get a lead of about a 1:00 by the next exchange. The 4th lead change.

    Leg 30: Chass Armstrong took off for Asheville and covered the 4.4 mile leg very quickly. He was able to add to the ARC lead, bumping it up to just over 4:00. Now Van 1 was done and all that was left were the 3rd legs for Van 2.

    Leg 31: One of the most talked about legs at the Blue Ridge Relay was up next. The “mountain goat” leg that gains almost 1,400 feet in the last 5.5 miles of a 6.5 mile run. CRC’s Ed Schlichter ran inspired and took off almost 1:30 by the time he reached the top. The lead was now down to about 2:30 minutes for the Asheville Running Collective.

    Leg 32: This 9.4 mile run pitted CRC’s youngster Reed Payne against ARC’s veteran Frankie Adkins. Reed had cut the lead down to about 30 seconds with just over a mile to go, but Frankie was able to dig down and run a bit quicker over the last bit. By the end of the leg, Payne had knocked the ARC lead down to about 58 seconds.

    Leg 33: Another “mountain goat” leg. One that has climbs of in the 10-15% gradient range. This leg peaks and then flies down the other side. ARC’s Caleb Masland set a new course record as he finished up his set of 3 legs. Caleb increased the lead back to over 3:00 with just 3 legs to go. Charlotte’s Eckard did recover well from his previous leg and went 4:54 pace down the backside of the climb.

    Leg 34: CRC’s Ben Hovis, needing redemption after getting lost on his 2nd leg, was able to cut into the ARC lead by around 1:00. The lead for Asheville with 2 legs to go was just over 2:00.

    Leg 35: Charlotte’s Dan Matena lost a bit of time to Asheville’s Mielke on the initial climb of this 4.2 mile leg. However, Matena ran the downhill like a man on a mission and was able to close the gap down to about 1:48 with one leg to go.

    Leg 36: Heading into this leg, both teams were looking at the 2:00 barrier as the place they needed to be. Charlotte wanted the lead to be just under two minutes, and obviously Asheville was hoping for the opposite. Both ARC’s Matt Hammersmith and CRC’s Mike Tamayo were working the tangents and dodging cars as they cruised down the mountain into Asheville. The road is a windy one, and both of the runners knew every second counted. Each team’s vans were stopping regularly to bark out time gaps and motivate their final runners. With somewhere between a ½ mile and ¾ of a mile to go, Tamayo reached Hammersmith and they were neck and neck. So after almost 206 miles of running, it was coming down to a final race over about ½ a mile to the Blue Ridge Relay finish line. Both teams were lining the street, making sure their runner knew where to go and wanting to witness the final steps of this amazing race. CRC’s Tamayo was able to close his final leg of around 6.5 miles at an astounding 4:57 pace! His exceptional final leg was the 5th lead change of the race and gave the Charlotte Running Club a 10 second victory.

    Both teams broke the old course record of 19 hours and 50 minutes, as both snuck under 19 hours and 49 minutes. CRC had run 19:48:47 to ARC’s 19:48:57.

    As you can imagine, there was an explosion of emotions at the finish. However, in the true spirit of this rivalry, within a minute of the completion of the race both teams were sharing hugs, handshakes, and congratulatory fist bumps. Sportsmanship and respect is evident between the two teams.

    Both the Charlotte Running Club and the Asheville Running Collective knew they were apart of something historic and epic. The 2016 BRR  will certainly be a race to remember for all of those involved. None of these guys will ever forget this one. Whether coming in 1st or 2nd in this race, with what had conspired over the previous twenty hours, both teams knew this was special.

    So for now the belt resides in Charlotte, NC. The next competition between these two teams will be the CRC Winter Classic, an 8K XC race held in Charlotte in January of 2017. Can it come close to writing an EPIC story like the 2016 Blue Ridge Relay? Only time will tell. 

    Time to train.

    Written by CRC’s Ben Hovis  Legs 10, 22(yep, the lost leg), & 34

    Charlotte Running Club, 19:48:47,new course record. Members were:

    Bert Rodriguez, Jesse McIntire, Ryan Jank, Chris Capps, David Willis, Mike Mitchell, Ed Schlichter, Reed Payne, Chase Eckard, Ben Hovis, Dan Matena, & Mike Tamayo

    Asheville Running Collective, 19:48:57. Members were:

    Javan Lapp, Pat Woodford, Alex Griggs, Brent Schouler, Mark Driscoll, Chass Armstrong, Phil Latter, Frankie Adkins, Caleb Masland, Stu Moran, Shiloh Mielke, & Matthew Hammersmith


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The Charlotte Running Club consists of passionate runners that strive to spread the love of running and to help each other grow. The Club's goal is to bring the expansive, diverse, and exciting Charlotte running community together under one umbrella through motivation, group runs, and social events. 

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