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The Daily Tar Heel

Community gathers for 17th annual Tar Heel 10 Miler

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Runners pose after the finish line at the Tar Heel 10 Miler run on Saturday, April 20, 2024.

At a bright 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, a buzz filled the air as thousands of runners gathered on South Road, preparing for the 17th annual Tar Heel 10 Miler

The event consisted of three races: the Fleet Feet Four Miler, the Tar Heel 10 Miler and the Double Down Challenge, which included both the four and 10-mile races.

A UNC tradition, the event gathered students, faculty, alumni and community members from across the country for a morning of sweat, laughter and complimentary bananas. 

A group of UNC first-year students, Ella Bucy, Riley Buelow, Emaline “EmmySloane and Riley Vanness, stood in front of the Bell Tower in matching blue shorts and white tank tops, waiting for the race. 

The group said they had bonded over training for the event and hoped to continue the tradition of running the 10 miler for all four years of their college experience. 

“We wanted to make it a goal and prove to ourselves that we could do it,” Sloane said

CEO of the Capstone Event Group Charlie Mercer, who hosted the event along with UNC and the Town of Chapel Hill, said there was an expected capacity of just over 8,500 runners this year. 

The race course, which spanned from the Old Well to Anderson Softball Stadium, required shutting down parts of Franklin Street, Cameron Avenue, South Road and Raleigh Road. 

Because of road closures, the race required an end time of 10:35 a.m. for all finishers. Those participating in the Double Down Challenge had to finish their first four miles by 8 a.m. to allow South Road to open back up. 

Mercer said one of the biggest benefits of the event is the engagement between the Town and gown — UNC's campus community and the broader Chapel Hill area.  

“It's symbolic in a way because our course starts on campus, runs through campus and then runs through the Town of Chapel Hill, and so everybody who participates is experiencing both segments of this community,” he said.

Every participant’s unique reason for participating can be celebrated, he said — whether running a personal best time, racing in honor of a loved one, completing a rite of passage or cheering on others. 

Family members and friends held encouraging posters on the sides of the race course, shouting through bullhorns, waving noise makers and cheering on those who ran by. 

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Harrison Holmes and Corinna Fultz cheer on Willow Grossmann at the Tar Heel 10 Miler run on Saturday, April 20, 2024.

UNC sophomore Parker Stiles said running up Franklin Street was one of his favorite parts of the course. 

“It was just that Tar Heel energy,” alumna Katie Moss said, who ran the Double Down Challenge. 

Suzanna Henderson said her husband is stationed at Fort Liberty in Fayetteville, North Carolina and she uses running as an outlet to stay fit and active after having two sons. 

Alvin Cade, who also happens to be stationed at Fort Liberty, said he is motivated by his running partner Kenard Holmes and the promise of a post-run beer. 

Finishers received medals in the shape of a bow tie: navy blue for the four miler and Carolina Blue for the 10 miler. Those who completed the Double Down Challenge received both bow tie medals and a third medal, which featured two rams butting heads. 

Abigale Locklear, a 2022 graduate, said she ran the Tar Heel 10 Miler her senior year. Two years later, she traveled from Charlotte to run the race again with friends. 

While the race was hard, she said it was also rewarding.

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“Yesterday we got into town, and the energy was so different,” Locklear said. “We're just so happy to be here. Every time we come back, we get so nostalgic.”

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Runners cross the finish line at the Tar Heel 10 Miler run on Saturday, April 20, 2024.

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