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Race Review: July 4th Spectacular 4 Miler

race-review-july4th-spectacularI don’t know about you, but I love kicking off holidays with a race. It’s a great way to get into the festive spirit – and to offset some of the tasty treats I indulge in later in the day.

This fourth of July I ran the July 4th Spectacular 4 Miler in Charlotte, N.C.

I like this race because it’s one of the few local ones that have a jogging stroller division. I ran last year (the inaugural year) pushing my son – and we won the division. So, we were back to try to repeat this year!

About the race
The race starts on 7th Avenue, right next to Memorial Stadium in Charlotte. The course takes you through the quaint neighborhoods of the Elizabeth section.

While the course is beautiful, it’s also pretty hilly, especially on the third mile. And since the race is in July in the Carolinas, the weather isn’t exactly pleasant. At the start this year, it was a balmy 74 degrees Fahrenheit with drizzle and 100 percent humidity — far from ideal running conditions. There were two water stations on the course.

Thankfully, the spirit of the crowd overshadowed the weather. There were only about 500 race participants, but they must have been some of the friendliest people around. Everyone was cheering for one another. I’ve never received as many positive comments from fellow competitors as I did during this race.

However, in an effort of full disclosure, I need to mention the negatives. The race organizers ran out of water at the finish – people who came in after the 40-minute mark were left with only Gatorade. Also, the official results aren’t accurate. I wasn’t listed as a participant despite finishing and placing, and neither was a friend of mine. I emailed the race director and he agreed that I was right and they had proof of me finishing, but it’s days later and I’m still nowhere to be found on the official results.

Racing with a stroller
The jogging strollers got a one-minute head start on the other runners. We went out pretty fast, and were the lead stroller from the get-go. It felt really cool to be in the lead and following the cop car for the first couple of minutes!

I felt strong in the beginning of the race, and my 19-month-old was actually sitting still in the stroller, so I was a happy runner. But the humidity was intense – it literally felt like we were running through smog. I was sweating so much that it became a bit difficult to hold onto the stroller – my hands kept slipping off!

When we hit the hill right after the mile 2 marker, things got rough. I hadn’t been training with the stroller and this long, steady climb just about did me in. Luckily, the other racers were so supportive and all of their “you go girls” kept me from stopping to take a walk break.

After the major hill, I just made it my goal to hang on to the jogging stroller lead. The humidity was getting to me in the last mile, but my competitive spirit kept me going. I was so happy when we made the final turn and I saw the finish line. Unfortunately, it was still a good half mile away — kind of a tease!

I was able to hold on to a strong enough pace that no other strollers passed us. We finished in 31:14, a bit slower than our time last year, but good enough for first place in the stroller division.

Final thoughts
The 4th of July Spectacular 4-Miler was overall a good experience. I plan to be back next year.

Written by Jen Matz.

Related: More race reviews from our blogging team