Charlotte, NC — A hometown winner, a sold-out race, and rain clearing just in time to reveal great running weather. If you’re Tim Rhodes, you’re feeling pretty satisfied.
Of course if you’re Tim Rhodes, that doesn’t mean you can kick back and relax. There’s still a lot to do before New Year’s, and there’s always next year to think about. But check off the 2019 Novant Health Charlotte Marathon as a success, with even better things to come.
“We work really hard to put on an exciting, memorable event people can take with them and have great memories of,” says Rhodes, who for 15 years, has led the local marathon that launched in 2005 as Thunder Road and each November, takes Charlotte by storm. (A previous marathon carried a different name under different leadership before Rhodes launched Thunder Road.)
Will Volkmann of Charlotte took home the top men’s prize at 2:30.59. Amanda Morris of Pineville won the women’s race, breaking just under 3 hours with 2:59.19.
“Our goal isn’t to be the biggest, because that’s not a realistic goal,” says Rhodes, citing New York and Boston as examples. “But we can be the best — we can be more runner-friendly in sign up, and more convenient to them.” This year, the event’s popularity was proof of that.
The Novant Health Charlotte Marathon was bigger than expected — the 26.2-mile race reached capacity at 1,200 several days before race day, bumping late-comers to a waiting list. (“We didn’t order enough medals,” admits Rhodes. “We won’t make that mistake again!”) Gratefully, enough runners deferred until next year that everyone on the waiting list got to run the full route.
In total numbers, about 3,000 runners took to the half-marathon distance, 1,200 ran the 5k, and about 200 teams signed up to share the day and run a relay — the largest growth in sign-ups of any distance. In all, just shy of 6,000 people from 40 states and 8 other countries took home their finishers’ medals and swag on November 16th. That’s 15% more participants than last year — one person for every medal ordered. Exactly.
“I think it says a lot about the Charlotte community, and as a city, and the accessibility — how people get here, what there is to do here,” says Rhodes. “It tells us there is a lot going on in Charlotte and people are willing to visit.”
Rhodes is grateful for the thousand-plus volunteers, along with sponsors, runners, and spectators who make the race fun and rewarding for everyone. He’s even more grateful the race raised $37,732 for Hemby Children’s Hospital, the beneficiary of the day’s proceeds.
“It speaks to the team we have and dedication to putting on a world-class event,” he says.
So is Rhodes satisfied about THAT? Maybe. He’s already planning ahead to 2020.
Expect a slight change in the course, to capitalize on efficiencies that will be less taxing on law enforcement and other logistical services along the route. And those hills?
“It would be nice to have fewer hills,” laughs Rhodes, “but we’ll see.” He acknowledges that out-of-towners don’t quite expect hilly terrain, with the worst incline coming between mile 25 and 26 (Oh, the humanity!) But he really doesn’t want to change much, because everyone is kind of used to the way it is.
“Can I make it a better experience for runners, capitalize on the best neighborhoods with most crowd support, and add more entertainment?” asked Rhodes. Those are his primary focus areas for the new course, which he plans to keep for the next 5 – 10 years.
With that adjustment, he’ll be happy if he can make the race bigger, making it better, and keeping the same positive vibe throughout.
And of course, he plans to order more medals.
Want to get in early? Sign up here: https://runsignup.com/Race/NC/Charlotte/CharlotteMarathon