Charlotte ranks 30th-best running city but Raleigh ranks higher

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Photo by Jeff Wilhelm/Charlotte Observer

“We’re America’s 30th-Best Running City!” isn’t quite impressive enough to be worth shouting from the top of the Bank of America Corporate Center, but hey, we’ll take it.

That’s the ranking Charlotte was awarded this week in Runner’s World’s inaugural list of the top running cities in the U.S., after editors analyzed more than 250 cities with populations of more than 160,000 and weighed factors including parks, climate, food and safety. (To learn more about the methodology, visit www.runnersworld.com/bestcities.)

And 30th out of more than 250 is certainly much more optimistic than the label the city got tagged with in July: a dismal 99th out of 100 on personal-finance website WalletHub’s list of 2016’s Best and Worst Cities for Recreation.

Here’s what Runner’s World had to say about Charlotte:

“Welcome to the Queen City, a place filled with healthy professionals who enjoy 14 running stores, nine running clubs, and dozens of races. Runners in this city do not take their resources for granted. For instance, the Charlotte Running Club hosts Le Tour de Charlotte – a program that gets its members into the specialty running shops so they can explore and buy local. For a great run, head to the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.”

It is actually pretty significant that the city can support so many specialty running stores per capita. Within just a few miles of uptown alone, there’s Inside Out Sports (more focused on triathlon, but certainly qualifies as a running store, too) on the edge of SouthEnd and the Ultra Running Company in the heart of it; Run For Your Life’s flagship store in Midtown near Metropolitan; Charlotte Running Company in Dilworth; andanother Ultra Running Company in Myers Park.

And the Charlotte Running Club is certainly influential, with hundreds of members and nearly 4,000 people following its busy Facebook page.

But I wouldn’t necessarily point to Little Sugar Creek Greenway as our crown jewel. It’s great – I run on it all the time – but McMullen, McAlpine and Mallard Creek/Clark’s Creek/Toby Creek greenways are just as great or even greater; and the vast network of trails at the U.S. National Whitewater Center is fantastic.

That said, it’s impossible to make a case for Charlotte ranking higher on Runner’s World’s list than San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, San Diego or Washington, D.C., which all made the Top 5.

Instead, what should jump out to Charlotte runners is Raleigh being positioned at No. 19. Eleven places higher? I smell an argument brewing…

“Raleigh is known to be a city rich with charm and infused with modern technology and sophistication – and its running scene is no different,” the editors of Runner’s World write. “In 2016, the city hosted 100 races, including the Rock ’n’ Roll Raleigh Marathon. For long runs, The Capital Area Greenway has more than 100 miles of mostly paved trails. For a softer surface, head to William B. Umstead State Park for 13.3 miles of multi-use trails along three lakes.”

The “America’s 50 Best Running Cities” list will be featured in the October issue that hits newsstands Tuesday.

This story originally ran at CharlotteObserver.com.

Photo: Jeff Wilhelm/Charlotte Observer

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