The Novant Health Charlotte Marathon is creating a new opportunity for competitive runners on the local and regional scene. This year, the marathon launched the Elite Athlete program which invites top runners to compete for a cash prize.
The idea came from James Perez, the 2018 Men’s Marathon Champion, who wanted to find a fun way to invest in local athletes who have more advanced running goals. The Elite Athlete program is a new space where these runners can set out to achieve those advanced goals alongside some of the best runners around.
To apply for the program, runners must be able to complete a full or half marathon under the respective qualifying time within a year from July 15, 2019.
How Fast is Elite Fast?
“I believe a program like this creates a buzz, especially among our faster runners, which generates more positive publicity,” says Tim Rhodes, race director and owner of Run For Your Life. “It’s a new way to inspire athletes to train harder and run faster as the competition gets stronger.”
On race day, elite athletes receive complimentary entry into the full or half marathon. They also have access to an exclusive area where they can stretch indoors before the race (and use heated bathrooms!).
“We want to attract a competitive field of runners for the marathon and be sure the athletes have a fantastic experience,” says Rhodes.
The program brings in the local community too by asking them to host elite athletes from out of town. “We are looking for local runners to host the athletes during their stay in Charlotte. Imagine the conversation around the dinner table with an elite athlete if you are a family that runs! I think it can be an inspiring opportunity for local runners,” says Rhodes.
Runners interested in applying for the program can start by visiting the Elite Athletes Program page, where they’ll find more detailed race-day information and a link to the application. This is also where community members can sign up to host an athlete.