Last Sunday I ran the Around the Crown 10K here in Charlotte. It was my first race since the start of the pandemic and it was an amazing feeling to pin on a bib and experience race day energy again. I sure have missed it a lot.
I wanted to write a full race recap and review of the Around the Crown 10K because it’s such a unique and fun race that really showcases Charlotte, the fastest growing Southeast city!
ABOUT THE AROUND THE CROWN 10K
(Image source Around the Crown Facebook page)
The Around the Crown 10K is a unique race because you get to run 3.1 of your 6.2 miles on the inner loop of I-277! The interstate is shut down to cars and runners take it over! It’s such a cool experience to run on the beltway while enjoying panoramic views of uptown Charlotte. The remaining 5K meanders through the streets of uptown Charlotte.
(Image source Around the Crown website)
Here’s the course map and elevation chart.
Overall, I found the entire event from expo to race day logistics to the after party to be extremely well-organized and executed.
AROUND THE CROWN 10K EXPO
The race expo was at Camp North End the day before the race. It’s a 76-acre site north of uptown that was previously used as a car factory and military depot. It has been transformed into a hub for innovation and creativity. You can find food stalls, shops, event space, restaurants, arts, nightlife and more.
There is tons of parking at Camp North End and it was easy to get to the expo. It took no time at all to grab my bib and t-shirt. We enjoyed walking around and exploring Camp North End while we were there.
GETTING TO THE RACE
Since I-277 is closed on race morning, you have to take city streets to get to the start at First Ward Park. This was no problem and super easy to navigate early on a Sunday morning when Charlotte is quiet. It took us no time at all to get uptown and we were able to park in a lot that was literally next to the starting line. It couldn’t have been more convenient. It was a pay lot but I think it was only about $8. There is tons of street parking and some free decks as well. All that to say, you don’t have to park far away and it’s easy to get to the starting line.
THE AROUND THE CROWN 10K IS A STROLLER FRIENDLY RACE
The race is super family and stroller friendly. Race director Brian Mister is a father of two small children (with one on the way!) that he often runs with and has done a great job with making the Around the Crown fun for the whole family. I decided to push Finn in the jogging stroller because I knew he’d love the course. Every time we drive past or through uptown Charlotte he always talks about the “big buildings” so I thought he’d get a kick out of seeing them up close like this!
Strollers started at 7:55a, 5 minutes before the official race gun. It was very nice to get a head start and not to have to navigate the mile one crowds with a stroller. I think there were about 2,600 participants in this year’s race. It was also cool to have the police motorcycle come up behind us when we were almost a mile in instructing us to move over because the elites were coming through. Loved watching them fly by!
There were a lot of stroller runners out on the course…and a lot of runners pushing kids Finn’s age and older as well as doubles.
We had unseasonably cool weather on race morning. It was a little over 60 degrees at the start with abundant sunshine and blue skies. A perfect day to race! Finn was in a great mood and we chatted about what he was seeing for the first few miles.
Before I knew it, we were merging onto I-277 for our 5K on the highway! I have driven this road countless times and never thought I’d ever actually run on it.
I went into this race with the mindset that we were just running for fun and I wasn’t going to be “racing” or pushing my pace. I was okay with stopping to take photos and keeping it super casual. It was really all fun and easy until the hill at mile 5 that was the last stretch on 277 before we exited back into uptown. OMG y’all…I walked up it. My tiny running coach likes to tell me, “mommy, go faster” when I slow down to walk but there was just no way I could run up that thing pushing the stroller and my hamstrings were screaming at me.
Note, I don’t hold this against the Around the Crown…haha. Charlotte is a hilly city and pretty much any race you run is going to have some killer hills. My neighborhood is super hilly so you think I’d be used to it…but I don’t think you ever get used to running hills with a jogging stroller.
Luckily, there was only a mile to go after that monster mile 5 hill and we were crossing the finish line before we knew it! The finish line was crowded with lots of people, lots of cheering and lots of cowbells. We ran in with cheers of “go mama, go baby!” 🙂 My official chip time was 1:00:48.
And here are my splits and stats from my Apple Watch.
POST-RACE FINISH FESTIVAL
The race started and ended at First Ward Park which is a beautiful 4.6 acre urban park in uptown Charlotte. Once we crossed the finish and collected our medal, we were directed into the chute to get water and a banana and into First Ward Park. They had music and a few tents set up with people like Carolina Sports Clinic and the Charlotte Running Club.
Finn was ready to get out of the stroller and hit the splash pads at the park. He ran his own little race and had fun getting soaked. This was followed by a dance party in his Batman underwear in the middle of the lawn.
We stopped by Sunflour on the way home to get a post-race treat. Finn chose a chocolate cake donut with sprinkles and I had a morning glory muffin and an oat milk latte.
All in all, we had an excellent experience with the Around the Crown 10K. I would HIGHLY recommend this race if you live in the Charlotte region for its unique course, family-friendly nature and top-notch organization. I will definitely run it again!
It was so special to get to share the morning with Finn. We had a lot of fun together and I think it’s really awesome for our little people to see us being active and healthy.
Also, I’ll be posting a full review of my new jogging stroller in the next couple of weeks. It’s the Cybex AVI and it’s amazing!