February 28, 2016
When I moved back home from D.C., I had to get used to running down country roads in my hometown rather than running through the big city passed monuments and through the National Mall. Although the peace of my little neighborhood in Mint Hill was completely conducive to getting your zen on, I much prefer running in Charlotte’s urban areas. I think it has something to do with accountability. No, those poor souls leaving the office at 8 p.m. or lovebirds on their way to a dinner date don’t care that I’m running, but I use each person I pass as a reason not to stop. They’d be disappointed in me– at least that’s what I tell myself.
After moving into Third Ward, being a runner and uptowner has been a unique challenge in the route development department. Things to keep in mind:
- Crosswalks: Nothing is worse than hitting the wrong intersection at rush hour. This is both a timing and route-mapping issue.
- Pedestrian traffic: You don’t want to have to bob and weave too much and no one wants your sweaty body rubbing against them on their commute– well, some do, and for them we have pepper spray.
- Safety: As much as I love my tunes, make sure you can still hear your surroundings and that you are also visually aware of the people and cars around you.
- Travel: Don’t be shy about getting in your car to drive to a fun new route. You have to keep yourself interested and your body guessing!
- Modify: Don’t like a certain leg of a route you want to try? Change it! It’s your run, you’re the boss. Combining routes and changing them to suit your needs is a great way to change it up. Don’t think you can run a full six-miler? How about trying two three-milers with a short break? I use Sgt. Roy’s Total Strength or Heather’s Barre class at the Dowd for my breaks if I can, but also don’t mind a brewery pitstop either.
For Charlotte runners that want to log miles and take in all of the beautiful scenery that the Queen City has to offer, there are a variety of options if you plan ahead:
- Uptown Proper: It’s pretty easy to crisscross through the wards and make up your route as you go, with the skyscrapers shading your path and breaking the wind for you. Have fun with this one and improvise! Adding a pit stop to your route can be a game changer, and there are ample opportunities in uptown and uptown-adjacent.
- Like, Sports and Stuff: Train like a pro while you run by all of Charlotte’s major sports venues: Panthers’ practice field, Bank of America Stadium, BB&T Ballpark and Time Warner Cable Arena.
- Dilworth: This route is light on stops at crosswalks. Going on an adventure down one of the side streets in this historic neighborhood does not disappoint. Dilworth’s iconic bungalows make for great home shopping fantasies, not to mention distractions from the fact that you’re putting your body through the ringer with obstacles like the Scott Avenue hill, one of my most and least favorite places to run. Expletives usually cannot be helped at the top.
- Plaza Midwood: Running over Independence Boulevard on the Central Avenue bridge at just the right time in the morning gives you the very best view of the skyline lit up by the rising sun.
- Freedom Park: Everyone knows that Freedom Park can be a little slice of Heaven. Catch it in the Spring when the weeping willows kiss the duck pond and sway in support like adoring fans’ outstretched arms as you run by.
- The Booty Loop: Traditionally, a cyclist’s haven, and the site of the popular 24 Hours of Booty fundraiser, the tree-lined streets, beautiful homes and challenging hills make The Booty Loop one of my favorite places to spend some time pounding the pavement.
- Toby Creek Greenway: Links to Mallard Creek Greenway in the University area. Parking at 235 East Mallard Creek Church Road (Mallard Creek Park) or the Harris Teeter shopping center at the other end of this route on University City Boulevard is a breeze. This route has great tree-cover,
What is your favorite route?