Thursday, February 10, 2011

Running in Greenville, NC - A Primer

When I moved to Greenville in September 2009 to enter graduate school at East Carolina University, I found it difficult to find information about places to run. So as I exit the town a year and a half later (for a new job in my second hometown of Raleigh, NC), I hope that this will be of future help to those that move to Greenville or to those that live here and are looking for new places to run. If you have any specific questions or think I am leaving something out, feel free to email me.

JH Rose High School - 600 W. Arlington Blvd
A nice rubberized track that is (generally) open to the public (ie. they leave the gates open on nights and weekends). Like anywhere in Greenville, it can get a little windy, but this is a nice track. The ECU team has been practicing here while theirs is being built, so that should tell you something about the quality of it. Also, it is about 2 miles from campus, which provides a nice warmup.

DH Conley High School - 2006 Worthington Rd
Conley is a bit out of town (down Charles Blvd towards Winterville), but generally has a little less traffic than Rose. It is a newer (also rubberized) surface than Rose and has an adjacent park that is great for warmups on the trail and grass. This can get a little windy as well, but not as bad as Rose.

ECU – Corner of Charles Blvd and Greenville Blvd
In progress as of this post, the new ECU track is going to be awesome. The old one was on par with the high school tracks, but the new one promises to be a nice all-weather surface with a steeple pit and everything you could want in a local track. Hopefully they'll let the public use it (they are building a wall around it). Just be smart and respect the team if they are out there and you should be ok. From talking to some of the runners on the ECU team, they have said expect it to be finished around March 2011 (but don't hold your breath).

EC Velo Bicycle Post Trails - 3132 Short Bridge Rd
The best trails in the Greenville area (Grimesland). These were built by the EC Velo Club for the mountain bikers, but are just as good for a run. $10 a year gets you entrance to these 10+ miles of single track trails that are great for a change of pace as there are plenty of hills and the whole thing is soft trails; a nice break from the constant concrete of Greenville. You may want to carry some pepper spray on the back of your shorts though as wild animals and unleashed dogs will run with you every now and again. If it is your first time, you may want to go with a friend or someone that has been there before. It's hard to get lost, but just a suggestion.

ECU North Recreational Complex - Highway 264 East (10 minutes from campus)
These soccer fields and attached trails are a great place for easy days and for longer intervals. There is a field house with a bathroom, water fountain, drink and snack machine which is nice as well. A loop around the soccer fields is just under a mile and if you add the trails in, you can make a 2.25 or so mile loop that is easy on the legs. Beware the windy days, but this place is one of my favorites for the day after a workout or hard run. Also, they close the gates at dark, so get out there early.

River Park North - 1000 Mumford Rd
This is a fairly short trail (about 2 miles out with a few side trails), but can be added to a run from downtown to make a good 7-8 mile loop. Nice crushed rock trails, but beware the side trails can get a little slick and muddy as I have taken a few dives.

Boyd Lee Park - 5184 Cory Rd
Many local high school cross country races take place here, but it is not a whole lot of trails. It is essentials running around a flat field with a few ducks into the woods. Can get pretty windy. I don't really like Boyd Lee, but some people do, so take it for a spin and see what you think.

Race Directors
East Carolina Road Racing - Kip Sloan
The staple in Greenville road racing, ECRR puts on most of the races around here. Kip's a very nice guy and will get you a course map and/or any info you need about a race by email quick.

Run the East - James Orr
This is a new venture that split off of East Carolina Road Racing this year. I have not met Mr. Orr, but by all accounts he's a good guy and seems to be very tech savvy. Expect good things.

GRG featured in Runner's World
Running Groups
Greenville Running Group - a great email list to get on if you are in Greenville where people bounce around ideas for runs and other local info. They also have a Facebook group where runs are organized during the week as well. If you are moving here, the first thing you should do is sign up for GRG's email list.

ECU Club Running - If you are in college and are not running varsity, ECU Club Running is a great place to keep the competitive juices flowing. The team meets daily and has a wide range of commitment and ability. Lots of nice people and they compete in NIRCA races, as well as local road and trail races. One of their favorites is the Medoc Trail Marathon (and 10 Miler).

GoRun - an all ages (8+) and abilities local group that does weekly track workouts at DH Conley, hill workouts at Town Common, Sunday long runs from Elm Street Park and competes as a team at local and out of town races (this spring they are all running the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach).

Running Stores
Omega Sports - 3160 Evans St (252) 317-8956
Not really a true running store, but as close as you get to one in Greenville. Omega has a great selection, a knowledgable staff and always has information on all the races coming up as well as the current issue of Endurance Magazine, which is a nice free pickup if you haven't read it before.

Popular Races
Reindeer Dash for Cash - in my mind, the best race in Greenville. Held every December and directed by Dawn Cash-Salau. The event features a 5k and a 10 mile race. The 10 miler has prize money and both events have a team component. Pretty typical Greenville 5k course, but great post-race food and nice awards and door prizes. The only true "must" race here.

Fiesta Biathlon - not just for runners, Fiesta is a 5k run followed by a 15 mile bike, but Fiesta is likely the longest running race in Greenville (25 years) that starts and ends at Chico's with a big post race party.
Thinking of buying near Greenville? I can help!

Other Places to Run

Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium - 100 Ficklen St
One of the best places to get your hill repeats in. The ramps at Dowdy are a nice gradual incline and the gates are generally open to knock these "stadiums" out mid run without catching any flack from university security.

Town Common - 100 E. 1st St
This is where 90% of the local races start. It is also a good place to do some hill repeats or meet a friend for a workout or run.

Greenville Greenways - All over Greenville
The greenways are currently expanding and the new section will run from around the dog park down the New River to behind the cemetery at the end of 5th Street near Green Springs Park. This will be a nice new option.

Post-run Fueling
B's Barbecue - 751 B’s Barbecue Rd (No Phone)
One of the oldest and most famous barbecue joints in North Carolina, B's is always busy. Get there early as I believe they only cook 4 hogs a day and when they are gone, B's closes up. They are closed Sunday and Monday and are cash only. They won't break the bank though as a barbecue plate with a side and a sweet tea is around $5. A great place to hit when coming home from the EC Velo Bike Post Trails.

Chico's - 521 Cotanche St (252) 757-1666
Possibly the best reference point in Greenville. Chico's is always busy and has a happening bar area with happy hour appetizer specials daily. Decent mexican food and nasty bathrooms, but a good place to meet up for a run (as you can stash water bottles, gels, etc behind the wall right across the street on the campus side for long runs).

Sup Dogs - 213 E. 5th St (252) 752-7682
A great post race stop and the only outdoor deck in downtown Greenville you can sweat on! Great hot dogs and burgers and cheap daily deals. On Saturday they have $1 hot dogs and $1 PBR draft in a mason jar. Always a good celebratory lunch after a good 5k on a spring day.

Other things of Note
ECU Student Recreation Center (on Campus)
This is the best gym I have ever been in. If you have access to this, use it! It has tons of nice treadmills, a rubberized 235 meter flat track, plenty of weights, basketball courts, a smoothie bar, a pool (with hot tub) and stationary bikes, ellipticals, etc. I haven't checked out the local health clubs like Golds and Snap, but can fully endorse the SRC. Just make sure if you come as a guest that your sponsor doesn't leave as I was recently jerked off a treadmill mid-run and asked to leave because my friend went to class. Lame!

Massage Works of Greenville - 104 East Victoria Ct (252) 355-1000
I am getting older and need work! Spencer at Massage Works does a great job and will keep you loose and limber. Only $50 for an hour massage and well worth it!

Running Assessment Clinic At East Carolina University (RACE)
Dr. Blaise Williams is doing some cool things and has monthly lectures on different topics (which I hear are great). They also do studies from time to time that they will post on the Greenville Running Group email list.

Future Additions
This was orginally posted in February 2011. My hope is that when people google "running in greenville, nc," that they will find this post, so if there are any additions I am missing, or things change in the future, please email me and I will revise accordingly!

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  1. you covered it all pretty much. Just wish they wouldn't pave the trail along the river because its one of the few in Greenville like you said.

  2. awesome work! Have you considered a brochure/handout to put out?

    anyone wanting more info about GoRUN(Greenville organization of runners) can contact me on facebook,, and 252-902-7021

    keep up the great work! BEAST!

  3. Your post is amazing! Thanks for the great ideas!

  4. This is all great information! I'm a grad student as well who just moved to Greenville this past January and I have been wondering where there is to run here - in particular, trails! Just one question though... as a female running by herself, how safe are these trails in general??

  5. All the trails are very safe. My only recommendation is to carry pepper spray on the back of your shorts in case of altercation with wild animals or unleashed dogs if you choose to run at the Bike Trails.

  6. What a great write up. Would you mind if I posted this up on GRG board? There is some really nice information for area runners up here. Thanks for taking the time to do it and for the nice review on Bright Night 5k!


  7. Thank you! Just moved to Greenville and this is incredibly helpful.

  8. No problem! If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me

  9. Thanks for the post. Wish I had found it sooner. Home visiting for the holiday and ended up doing intervals at the old track by Aycock elementary school off of Greenville Blvd and Red Banks. I will have to check out the trails next time.

  10. Thanks for this post. I'm moving to Greenville this summer and this is really helpful!

  11. Hey, thanks for the post. My wife is considering a job in Grenville, and I was wondering where I might be able to run. We are from Chicago, so having access to running trails will be awesome, even if they aren't all that extensive. My only concerns at this point are heat and humidity. We get them both in Chicago, but not of the Southern variety. I have two running friends who re-located to the Research Triangle in the past year, both of whom say that running there has been vastly different than Chicago. My fingers are crossed.

  12. Thanks so much for this! I use to live in Greenville but wasn't a runner then. I may be moving back soon and this will really come in useful! One question; I sometimes run with a stroller, which places (other then the tracks) would you suggest when I'm with wheels? Thanks again!

    1. Since you and I have left, they have built a nice paved greenway, so I believe that would be your best best!

  13. I will be visiting Grimesland in about a month or two. I'm really scared, because someone told me that there is NO place to run there.
    Where I live (outside of US) I can just get out of my house and start running on the sidewalks and even go to the highway and run to other cities on my long run days.

    I prefer asphalt or pavement over trails. Will I be able to find at least 2 miles straight to run there back and forth!?

    Please, if someone can help me out I'll be very thankful!

  14. Thank you for this post! I am visiting relatives next weekend and googled "best places to run in Greenville, NC". This has been very helpful!

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