Although we've run some sorority fundraising 5Ks in Chapel Hill, the Tarheel 10-Miler is the longest race we've done in the county, so it's the one we include in our countdown. The Franklin 5,000-meter event started in 2007 and the inclusion of the 10-miler this year is a great extension of the running scene in Orange County.
The Tarheel 10-Miler started on the UNC campus around the baseball stadium, then passed the football stadium and on out by the bell tower and through campus before making a few turns and going right down the main drag of Chapel Hill, Franklin Street, and then on into Carrboro. We hit all the major landmarks in Carrboro like the Weaver Street Market in a tour of several neighborhoods and schools before entering the greenway system, crossing over Franklin Street again, and then finishing in a serpentine finish area set up in one of the town parking lots.
Although it wasn't a great big event, having the 5k run in conjunction with the 10-miler increased the turnout of both participants and spectators. Even out in the far reaches of the 10-mile course, there was plenty of road support, help at aid stations, and spectators cheering on the runners -- or at least wondering good-naturedly what was going on. In one neighborhood, a fellow came out and played his violin for us as we ran by. I also had to chuckle when I saw the signs stipulating how individuals were welcome to use a school track, when that is often a contentious topic back home.
The fine folks at Endurance Magazine did a great job producing the Tarheel 10-Miler and the Franklin 5,000, and I remember the Carrboro-based Cardinal Track Club having a very enthusiastic group of volunteers in one stretch near the end. The post-race party was a lot of fun and well-stocked, and it was probably one of the more well-documented local races, with at least three photographers on hand to take pictures. We both enjoyed the Tarheel 10-Miler, and we'll be back in Orange County to see how the running calendar develops (supposedly a half-marathon is in the works) and keep tabs on the sorority fundraisers.