Soles stirring

Dear Ace: What is the big deal about the Charlottesville Ten Miler, anyway? I’ve lived in lots of places where there have been many races for runners, but you get the feeling around here that the Ten Miler is the World’s Only Race! Please explain.—Lace Yursneeks

Lace: The first thing Ace needs to do is disavow all personal knowledge of the Ten Miler. By which Ace means he finds he likes breathing steadily far too much to engage in something as…odd…as purposely running a 10-mile course quickly. Ace gets enough exercise applying his formidable wit to life’s little idiocies. But Ace digresses, as Ace is wont to do from time to time.

   But though Ace doesn’t enjoy running, Ace loves a good parade, and that’s probably the best way to describe the Charlottesville Ten Miler, which will be run for the 31st time on Saturday, April 1. Organizers expect 2,500 misguided souls, or is that soles, to participate in what is Charlottesville’s oldest foot race. (Ace’s employer, this very newspaper, is a
sponsor of the race and Ace tells you that in the interest of full disclosure, not because Ace is trying to suck up to the
big man, although if you’re reading this, Rob, Ace says, “You’re looking very handsome today.”)

   The course literally snakes through the heart of UVA and Downtown Char-lottesville, with more than 400 volunteers, 60 police officers, a half-dozen bands, a gospel choir, countless spectators, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Oprah lining the course in support of the runners. O.K., Oprah had to decline the invitation, but you get the idea. There’s a lot of cheering and plenty of doughnuts for spectators.

   Runners range from the superhuman six-minute-mile types to walkers who take around two hours to finish. “That means,” says Mark Lorenzoni, a race organizer and the brains, with wife, Cynthia, behind Ragged Mountain Running Shop, “if someone took a photograph from the sky of the leader breaking the tape, his trail, that dragon, would go all the way back Downtown and the last finisher would be around 5.5 miles [into the course]. The engine crosses the finish line as the caboose is still five miles away. Talk about a parade.” Ace’s sentiments exactly.

   And if that weren’t glory enough, the race is a charity event. This year’s proceeds go to Madison House, a campus group that sends volunteers to organizations around the community.

   Now you’re probably wondering how to get involved, Lace, since Ace has put to rest your cynicism about the Ten Miler being “just another race.” Check out www.cvilletenmiler.com for more info.

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