Greater City Providence

New “Downtown” 5K?

st-pat-5kI received an e-mail a while back screaming the headline “New Downtown 5k!” about the new St. Patrick’s Day 5K coming up this Saturday on March 21st. “Awesome!” I initially thought… “Sign me up…”

I’ve run in the CVS Downtown 5K for the last 4 summers and have always enjoyed it. Hosting several thousand runners, many of whom are from out of town, the race is a fantastic showcase for the city. It starts with runners streaming down Francis Street by the Mall and the route then takes them through the best of downtown as they snake through downcity towards Fox Point along the river, then up North Main Street past RISD, and they finish by looping back along South Main and Memorial drive to a dramatic Statehouse finish as they race up Francis Street.

So a new “downtown” race should be great, right? Well, I look a look at the route… It starts at the Statehouse. Great! Then, um, huh… They run west on Smith Street… Ok, do they turn left down Orms towards the Promenade? Uh, nope, they just keep going west on Smith Street to Elmhurst. Uh, OK, what next? They do a little loop before reaching Providence College and they then turn back around and run back east on Smith Street until they reach the Statehouse again…

Now, don’t get me wrong. It sounds like a great race. I love Smith Street and they’ve already got over 2000 runners registered. If fact, you’ve got to sign-up online by tomorrow if you want to get in yourself. But calling this a “downtown” 5K? I don’t think so…

The Elmhurst St. Pat’s 5K? Or the Smith Street 5K? Sure… But “downtown” is something of a stretch. I’m glad that some people out there believe that Smith St and Elmhurst are or should be part of downtown but, for the moment, this marketing effort seems a bit forced…

Bret Ancowitz

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