Thunder Road 5K Recap (Charlotte, NC)

My husband is probably the luckiest man ever, and not just because he married me.

A few weeks ago, Clay and I ran the James Island Connector Run, which had a nice after party in Cannon Park downtown. The race sponsors gave lots of items if you registered for drawings- with the biggest giveaway item from Y102.5, a local radio station. The prize was a weekend getaway to Charlotte, NC, which included two nights in a hotel, two race entries for the Thunder Road 5K, and a $100 Visa gift card.


Guess who won the weekend getaway to Charlotte?

Last Friday after work, Clay and I packed up the car and headed to Charlotte for the Thunder Road 5K. If we hadn’t won the 5K entries, I probably would’ve opted for the half marathon (there was also a marathon, but we know I’m “one and done” when it comes to fulls). I was cool with running the 5K. Less running = more playtime in the Queen City.

Charlotte, NC postcard

Our first stop was the race expo, where we picked up our shirts and numbers, and I bought a Christmas ornament. I’m not a huge fan of expos- to me, it’s a hassle to go somewhere the day before just to pick up a race number and a shirt.

The shirts and numbers for Thunder Road are really nice. If you registered early, you could even get your name on your number. We missed out on this, but it wasn’t a huge deal (who can complain when your entry was free?). My shirt is ladies cut and while it’s not a tech shirt, it’s a super soft cotton that you can wear when working out. Both mine and Clay’s shirts fit us which says a lot because neither of us ever manage to score race shirts that fit.


We headed downtown the next morning for the race. There’s no free parking in Downtown Charlotte, but we scored a $5 park at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which was only 3 blocks from the start and next to the finish lines. Even though we had to park in a garage, parking was plentiful (I think we were on the third level) and $5 isn’t a bad price- comparable to a garage in Downtown Charleston. The race expo also gave us wristbands good for free entry into the museum, but we didn’t go- neither of us like NASCAR at all.

Downtown Charlotte really gets behind this race. Even the 5K route had spectators and cheerleaders, which was pretty cool. Lots of people did the 5K as first-timers, couch to 5K participants from a local YMCA, etc. There was even a “warm up area” close to the start for those who didn’t want to stand around in chilly temperatures (it wasn’t chilly, but this was in place if it had been!).


I did a quick warmup then headed to the start area. Clay started further in the back but I started up front. I wasn’t looking for an award, but I learned my lesson after there was no timing mat at the start of the James Island Connector Run. However, the Thunder Road 5K *did* have a timing mat. Score for chip timing!

The 5K course had a few rolling hills, with some downhills in the first half. That’s always tough because what goes down must eventually come back up, and it makes it pretty hard to negative split the race. For the Charlotte area, I felt like the course was fast- but definitely more difficult than any 5K course in Charlotte due to hills. The last hill at the end really got a lot of people, as I saw when I finished and ran back to cheer.

As for me- I crossed the line in 23:05 and won 1st place in the 25-29 age group. My award was a fun checkered flag with the race on it and my placement. I love it and plan to hang it in my home office soon.


I was really surprised I did that well; I know the 5K was a part of a bigger race festival (which usually means the good runners do the marathon or half), but I figured there would be more competition in a big city like Charlotte. The finish times were all slower than what I would expect from a field that size here in Charleston, so I guess we really are a running city.


Originally we hadn’t even planned to stay for awards, but we hit the after party and they were going on, so we stayed around. The after party was great, minus only Michelob Ultra for beer (I don’t drink, but I’ve heard this beer is nasty). The after party had free food from local restaurants- I mean it, Charlotte seriously gets behind this run. We even had free quiche from a local restaurant- yummy!  Here are the freebies we racked up.


Finish photos and videos were also taken. Of course, the photos cost (and mine were horrible, as usual!), but, the videos are online and free, and official finish times were online that evening. Clay finished in 38:56.

All in all, Thunder Road was the nicest 5K I’ve run. Everything was well thought out, including the shirts, expo, course, parking, timing, after party, and awards. I believe the 5K price was $30, and even though we did not have to pay, I consider that a steal for what we got (keep in mind, we got the free admission to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, even though we chose not to use it). I *highly* recommend Thunder Road 5K for anyone in North Carolina, runners who are NASCAR fans, and those who like to travel for a fun race.


Both Clay and I won race entries from Y102.5, a local radio station here in Charleston, SC; however, this complimentary entry did not affect my opinions of the race, and I was not compensated for this post. I’m thankful for the opportunity to run the Thunder Road 5K and would gladly run this race again on my own dime.

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17 Responses to Thunder Road 5K Recap (Charlotte, NC)

  1. runner1313 says:

    Awesome award and great finish!

  2. Steph says:

    Nice job! I hope you found somewhere awesome to eat! The last time we went, the place we tried to eat at had terrible service and we ended up eating at Subway, haha. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      We had great food :). Coming up in a later post, hehe. We did have one pizza place that Clay didn’t like (I didn’t think it was horrible but it wasn’t that great either).

      Other than that our food was delicious and we didn’t eat at Subway- we normally don’t do chain restaurants but especially when travelling. We like local gems!

  3. Amy says:

    Awesome. You are seriously the luckiest person ever. It seems like every other post is about winning something. I *never* win anything, except sometimes fun blog giveaways 🙂
    I really want to know what restaurants you ended up going to before/after the race!

    My other blogger friend who ran the full marathon complained a ton about the hills so I have no doubt it was a rough course. She also finished the marathon and then went to the hall of fame and I was impressed her legs could carry her through it!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I’m gonna write another recap more about our trip :). I just didn’t feel like combining them into one post because I took some more non-race pictures. We actually didn’t take the camera to the race and Clay does take his phone but I didn’t want to bug him with pictures.

      I’m sure the full was a rough course because Charlotte has some serious hills- the hills we saw when driving around town were a lot steeper than those on the 5K course!

  4. When I saw you had to pick up packets the day before I thought, wait wasn’t this a 5k
    ? Then with all the free things you get, Charlotte really knows how to treat their runners. Wow. Quiche is one of my favorite foods…I haven’t had it in a while but now I’m kind of craving it.

    It’s a shame this wasn’t a month ago when I was in Charlotte. It would have been fun to do together!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      It was really fun- the reason for picking up the day ahead was because there was also a half marathon and marathon and most of those you have to pick up the day ahead. So I guess they wanted everyone to pick up the day before to keep it simple.

      We actually got there late so most of the “expo” had already packed up but we didn’t care, haha. Most of the free stuff the next day was typical race swag but the local restaurants offering free food were pretty awesome!

      • Oh that makes a lot more sense then! I was like that is such a hassle to pick up for a 5k. I’m not much of a race expo person myself so I wouldn’t have minded…

      • Amy Lauren says:

        I don’t really like expos either. They always have the same stuff and it’s never anything I really want. The Christmas ornament I bought was cute but I mainly just got that because I collect ornaments and wanted a cool one since it’s close to the holidays.

  5. Woot about the free race entry and even better that it leads to a trip for you and Clay for the weekend! Always great to change things up and get away and what a better way to spend it than doing what you love? Running a race that is 🙂 Congratulations on the first place as well Amy, you are a beast and a half!

  6. I swear you need to buy lottery tickets! You’re the queen of winning events! That’s awesome sounds like a great weekend!

  7. Congrats on winning the getaway and race entry- definitely an awesome prize for runners!!! Love that you 2 were able to go have a great time and congrats on placing well too!

  8. Congrats on getting first place!!!!! that is awesome!!!!

  9. LilMysNinja says:

    I love Charlotte! Congrats on placing, that’s a pretty cool award. 🙂 Sounds like a pretty awesome after party and you can away with a load of freebies. That was definitely a great racecation weekend!

  10. Stephanie says:

    All I can is all that is AWESOME! Yay for winning such a great getaway and awesome race! Congrats!! best feeling 🙂

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