I’ve been in love with this iconic community since I first raced over its many hills in the spring of 1981 and have been intimately involved with it every single year since, as a race director, coach and volunteer and, during that journey, I’ve seen and learned a lot about this beloved footrace. Here are 10 tidbits worth knowing about this legendary event, whether you’re a runner or not:
1. It’s hilly. Good grief, what do you expect? It’s 10 miles through the streets of one really hilly city. But what many folks don’t seem to fully appreciate is that what goes up must come down. For all the many ascents, there are just as many descents, so, if you’re racing it, really lean into those downhills.
2. While we’re talking ascents, many runners also don’t take stock of the fact that one of the single hilliest miles of the course is the very first, where fresh-legged racers have a tendency to sprint out. So, keep that early race adrenaline in check by deliberately going out slower than your targeted goal pace. Note that I said “slower” and not “easier”, because when you’re “feeling” like it’s easy at the beginning of a long race can, in reality, be running way too fast. So, run slower.
3. Only four people in all the 43 years of the race have ever broken 50 minutes over this uber challenging course. But, as the late and always funny John Shrum, who loved running this race every year, once put it: “Everyone breaks 50 minutes at the race every year…it’s just a matter of where…whether it’s at mile 4, 5, 6 or wherever!” In other words, the race pace demographics are wide open, from five to 14 minute/mile pace and with the median average usually in the 9:30/mile pace range. Every year, the leader crosses the finish line as folks are still streaming up the mall to the halfway point. Close to a third of the field will be running the race for the first time.
4. It’s three races in one. If you’re racing, in addition to getting a 10-mile time, there will be splits along the way at the 5K and 10K marks too.
5. Spectating and want to see a loved one as many times as possible during the race? Cheer at the UVa Chapel and you’ll see them at mile 3 and 8.5 and, if you’re fast-a-foot or on bicycle, also at the finish. Another hot spectating spot is at the Pavilion at the east end of the Downtown Mall, where you’ll cheer for them at mile 5 and mile 6.9. And, while spectating, listen to live race coverage, with Jay James, on WINA 1070AM.
6. Are you a city motorist and want to be able to get around, by car, this Saturday morning? Then I’d suggest avoiding downtown and Main Street from 7:30 a.m. until 9 a.m. One of the main reasons that the CTC starts the race at the crack-of-dawn 7:15 time is to be a good neighbor so we’re off the streets before folks are out and about and most businesses are open.
7. Speaking of being good neighbors, the residents along 2nd, Northwood, Evergreen and Lexington always come out in force to cheer and annually are voted, by the racers, as the loudest and best spectators along the entire route.
8. Nicole Brimer is in her third year as Ten Miler race director and she leads a corps of over 300 volunteers, who will be out along the course keeping the participants safe and handing out water.
9. From day one, way back in 1976, the Charlottesville Track Club, one of our communities top fundraising organizations, has donated all of the proceeds (usually in the $50,000-$100,000 range) from the Ten Miler to a variety of local causes. This year’s recipient is Computers4Kids and one of those kids has created a “high five meter”, which will light up and count the number of high fives he receives as the runners slap his electric glove on their journey up the Downtown Mall.
10. We’ve seen all kinds of weather for this early spring event, from snow (1990) to torrential downpours (2005). But no weather proved to be more challenging and downright dangerous than it was in 1985, when the temperatures at the start were in the mid-80s. This year’s conditions look almost perfect, with temps ranging from high 30s to the mid-40s. Hopefully Dr. Wilder’s experienced Race Medical team won’t see much action.
Mark Lorenzoni co-directed the Ten Miler from 1984-1995 and has been coaching the Ten Miler Training Program since 1987.