The 5K run/walk starts on Chestnut Street. Don’t make the mistake of lining up at the front if you are not really fast or you may end up with tread marks up your back. After a brief sprint on Chestnut, you take a big left turn onto Ninth Street. If you are serious about running, you don’t want to linger at the start so get to Ninth ASAP. Crossing over Elm on Caldwell Street, you get your first glimpse of beauty as you head down Riverside Drive along the scenic Lumber River. There is a small downhill grade on Riverside, so those of us who rely on momentum can get a boost. But pace yourself! If you get a little too confident and caught up with the real runners you might end up with a sub-6 minute mile which will make it tough going on those of you who are happy to plod along at about an 8.5-minute pace.
At the end of Riverside you take a short cut through on Brunswick Street across Carthage Road and onto Kenan. This, by all accounts, is the tougher part of the race as there is much less to see. But have no fear as the Robeson Road Runners have a contingency plan. As you follow Kenan up to 26th Street and down Rowland Avenue, you will be cheered on by millions (OK I exaggerated a little) of screaming fans, Boy Scouts and volunteers. Homes have boom boxes blaring with great tunes and all the neighbors shout words of encouragement, pick you up if you fall and even let you use the bathroom if you just can’t make it to the end. Turning left onto 23rd Street, you are more than halfway there as you hit the two-mile mark at the intersection of 23rd and Elm. Now the fun begins and it is all downhill, literally, from there as you head down Elm to the finish. This is the point that separates the men from the boys. Or ,as my Grandpa used to say, “Time for one last kick to the finish.”
This has always been my favorite part of the race and my least favorite depending on how I am feeling on that particular run. On the occasion where I am feeling energetic and fast, seeing my daughters and their friends and hearing them scream, “Go Mommy, Go!” at the top of their lungs spurs me on. However, in one race when I had spent myself long before reaching 16th and Elm Street, the cheering kids and the sight of my dog curled up asleep in the living room window drove me to tears. Anyway, Elm Street is the place to leave it all on the road and “kick it” to the finish. At the finish line, congratulate yourself for a job well done, remember to turn in your timing chip, thank the volunteers and enjoy the festivities.
You have completed the course Rumba-style and are entitled to that much-deserved cold one and some chili.
— Kathy Hansen has over 20 years experience in the health and fitness field and is a five-year veteran of the Rumba on the Lumber. She can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.