Friday night runs are a big help when trying to work in new counties, so when Chad told me about his 2007 trip to the Tour de Kale 5k Night Run in the city of Denton in Davidson County, I knew it would help my tally, too. The Tour de Kale is mainly a cycling event that promotes fitness and benefits worthy causes, but they also hold a 5k run on Friday night to kick the whole weekend off. Instead of a large charity, the Tour de Kale annually benefits local citizens that are experiencing difficulty, and this year two Denton residents who are facing large medical expenses will benefit from the Tour.
I arrived at Harrison Park in Denton about an hour before the race and got to enjoy how they had set up the park with tents on the green for registration, pre- and post-race food, chip pickup and prizes. The park's bandstand was occupied by a local rock band that was entertaining the runners, walkers and spectators. Everybody was very friendly, and you could tell that the Tour is a big event in Denton and that everyone wanted to make sure all were welcome. The race organizer announced that, with an expected crowd of 190 entrants, the 2009 TDK would be the biggest field to date! An elementary school student sang the national anthem, a local preacher gave an invocation, and then we were off on the 5k!
The course itself was a very basic out-and-back route, with long gradual rises and downhills, but nothing severe either way. By the time we reached the half-mile mark, we were already out "past where the sidewalks end" and into farm country. Friendly volunteers staffed the mile markers and a very busy water station, but other than that the runners were on their own. It was a really hot, humid evening, even with the 8:00 p.m. race start, so we were all drenched before too long and looking for replacement fluids. The few residents we did see on the route seemed pleased to have the race coming right by their property, and they cheered us as we passed.
I went out way too fast on my first mile (9:20) and faded quickly in the second mile as the heat and humidity took their toll. By the time we passed the water station and the two-mile mark, I was just shuffling along enjoying the evening and the company of my fellow back-of-the-packers. Fortunately, the last half-mile was a gradual down-slope to the finish area, so that helped me pick up the pace a bit towards the end. The Denton fire department and EMS staff were out to cheer the finishing runners, and the spectators formed a loud, cheering chute for the runners to pass through to the ultimate finish line. More volunteers greeted us at the finish with very much appreciated cold bottles of water, and we all got a new pair of socks for finishing as well!
And where else would you be but central North Carolina to have Cheerwine at the finish? In addition to the Cheerwine, the post-race spread included slices of watermelon, fruit and bagels, and the very creative 5k cookies! (Delicious!) The TDK goodie bag included some Biofreeze samples, a sewing kit, a breast cancer ribbon pin, band-aids, a water bottle and cup, and, maybe specifically for Chad and me, the North Carolina highway map! The race t-shirt was also a lavender color that will be unique on my shelf. The band kept the crowd entertained through the last finishers and the compilation of the results, and then they gave out door prizes -- TDK shirts, towels and notebooks -- until they were ready to do the 5k awards, which were run medals for the age group winners and plaques for the overall winners.
They really put on a great 5k in Denton in the Tour de Kale, and I'm sure the weekend's bicycle race also benefited from their friendliness, attention to detail and spirited volunteers. Thanks for treating Chad and me so well at the TDK, and hopefully we'll be in Davidson County to run it again soon!