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Thousands of runners participate in 16th annual Tar Heel 10 Miler

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Racers sprint the final stretch past Teague Residence Hall during the Tar Heel Ten Miler on Saturday, April 22, 2023.

Though last Saturday morning was cloudy, the inclement weather did not stop thousands of people from lining up to participate in the 16th annual Tar Heel 10 Miler. Spirits were high among the runners, spectators, volunteers and emergency personnel despite the looming storm.

With a course that travels through UNC's campus and surrounding historic neighborhoods, the Tar Heel 10 Miler is a UNC tradition. The race hosts UNC students, UNC alumni and community members.

Other race options include the Fleet Feet 4 Miler and the 14-mile Double Down Challenge. 

In case of emergency, several EMS personnel were stationed at the start line and along the course. 

Chris Pope, the Orange County deputy chief of emergency medical services, said the most common emergencies he sees at races are dehydration and exhaustion. The cloudy weather helped prevent those problems at Saturday's race, he said. 

“It's gonna be nice weather today for a run because we're gonna have good cloud cover and probably some rain, so I'm not looking for heat emergencies,” Pope said.

One UNC student participating in the race was women's basketball player Alyssa Ustby. Since she was unable to run last year because of post-season basketball games, she said she was excited to run with her brother and his girlfriend.

“I'm really excited just to be a part of the whole race because it's such a great community event and just happy to be a part of it,” she said. 

Erin Bostic, a UNC senior who ran the Fleet Feet 4 Miler for the first time, said she was excited to finish her UNC career “with a bang.”

Bostic said she was most excited to see the people running and watching the race.

“I've heard that there's a lot of spectators and that they're very encouraging and very fun, and I'm excited to see everybody and meet new people and just enjoy it,” she said.

While her friends and her dad — a UNC graduate — ran in the race, UNC first-year Margaret Freeman held up a sign at the Bell Tower to cheer them on. The sign read, “Tar Heel 10: May the course be with you.”

Freeman said she planned to watch everyone start at the Bell Tower, walking to Franklin Street and back to Kenan Stadium to see the finish of the race. 

Many UNC alumni returned to campus for the run, including Claire Atwell, class of 2011.

Atwell ran the four-miler with her husband, who ran the full 10 miles. Atwell also brought her young daughter in a stroller and was excited to give her a tour of campus, she said. 

In addition to UNC students and alumni, the Tar Heel 10 Miler draws runners from all over the state. 

Runner Brad Hanes drove from Stokesdale, North Carolina, which is over an hour away from Chapel Hill. Hanes said he found out about the race from his friend, Jeff Olson. Olson said he learned about the race from other runners and online. 

“I know several people — friends and also in my running clubs — have done it in previous years, and it looked like fun so I thought I'd give it a shot,” Olson said. 

As they checked people in before the start of the race, volunteers Olivia Prevette and Valeria Rico said energy was high all morning.

Sherita Eaton, a traffic controller at the start of the course, said her favorite part of the race is seeing everyone's smiles.

“I’m always here for the ambiance of people supporting one another,” Eaton said. 

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