NOTE: This article was written as a preview for 2009’s Anthem Stride Through Time. If you’re interested in taking part in the 2010 walk, head on over to sportsbackers.com.
Disclaimer: Stride Through Time / Sports Backers is a sponsor of RVANews.
The Valentine Richmond History Center has partnered with Sports Backers to offer a 10K – the likes of which you’ve never seen! “Another 10K,” you say with a sigh, “Another 10K.” But listen, this one has a dual focus, for those of you who want a walking challenge AND a dose of historical whimsy. They have impersonators, bands, a bunch of stuff along the route through various historical parts of Richmond. And no one’s allowed to run! It is for walking, learning, and benefiting the city.
Lesley Bruno from the Valentine kindly offered to give us some more info on the Anthem Stride Through Time, which takes place on Saturday, May 30 at 9am…
RVANEWS: I am most attracted to guys when they are wearing knickers and three-cornered hats and writing the Declaration of Independence. Is this walk basically created so that people like me can surprise Thomas Jefferson reenactors with an unsolicited hug?
LHB:That was one of the reasons. But if you think knickers and three-cornered hats are hot (they’re actually called “breeches”), think about what these guys actually accomplished, much of it in Richmond. The 10K walk passes through nine historic districts, many of which Jefferson and the boys frequented as they went about the business of forming a country. St. John’s Church, for instance, was the site of Patrick Henry’s famous “Give me liberty, or give me death” speech, which he delivered to an all-star cast of Founding Fathers. The newly-restored Virginia State Capitol was designed by T.J. and sits atop a hill that the man himself climbed time and again. In fact, it was Jefferson who proposed moving the Colonial capital to Richmond from Williamsburg because Richmond is more centrally located and easier to defend. Imagine how differently Richmond’s history would have turned out if it weren’t for his genius! Good bye, seat of the Confederate government. So long, Federal Reserve. Adios, Capital Ale House. So yeah, give him a hug. He deserves it.
RVANEWS: So what other big fat historical deals will the Anthem Stride Through Time be striding through? Or near? Or past? Give me some examples of what makes these different from all the other 10Ks. “Walk me through it,” as it were.
LHB: Aside from being the first-ever race or walk to go through downtown Richmond, no other 10K is as diverse in scenery or terrain. We chose a walking-only event because a.) this is a hilly, multi-surface course and b.) we want people to see things as they stride by. If you were to run by the Henry “Box” Brown monument on the Canal Walk, for instance, you probably wouldn’t get that it’s a replica of the 3’ long x 2’ wide box into which Brown folded himself for the 27-hour journey to freedom. (I probably couldn’t fit my first computer into a box that small.)
Or try jogging by the giant bronze cross on the Canal Walk and also learning that it’s a replica of the wooden cross planted by Christopher Newport and his band of English explorers in 1607. One of his shipmates was this guy you may have heard of, Captain John Smith. (Unfortunately, we do not have a bronze replica of John Smith. Nor do we have one of Colin Farrell playing John Smith in a movie.) Plus, the Canal Walk, which still remains a mystery to much of Richmond, involves steps and gravel and water and machinery. None of this would work on a run.
RVANEWS: Walk me through the route. Or stride me through it, if you will. It seems like it’s pretty challenging, topography-wise, even though it’s just walking.
LHB: After navigating the aforementioned Canal Walk, you’ll cross onto terra firma at Bottom’s Up, where the Virginia Slave Trail weaves underneath the train trestle along the Flood Wall. Up on Cary, you’ll pass the gleaming condos and restaurants along Tobacco Row, as well as the new site of the Holocaust Museum, before heading up (the very steep) 25th Street to Church Hill. You’ll actually walk through the cemetery of St. John’s Church – no doubt encountering some Founding Fathers milling about – and then back down the even steeper, half-stone, half-asphalt hill on 23rd Street. Look for Edgar Allan Poe near the Poe Museum on Main Street heading toward Shockoe Bottom. (This is one of the coolest views in Richmond).
The 17th Street Farmer’s Market will be in full swing that morning, and scaffolding or not, Main Street Station is impressive as you exit the Bottom, passing a gentlemen’s club and a reconciliation statue in the same block. Once in the business district, you’ll turn north on 10th Street and mount yet another colossal hill past St. Paul’s Church, Capitol Square and the Executive Mansion. After crossing Broad, you must nagivate a secret tunnel through the VCU Hospital system (Take that, Monument Avenue 10K!), before happening upon the White House of the Confederacy, the Valentine Richmond History Center and the John Marshall House. (Breeches alert!)
Back on Broad, you’ll pass the National Theatre, the new UR Downtown campus and the newly opened Miller & Rhodes Hilton, before turning north again toward the Richmond Visitor Center. At this point, you’ve hit the four-mile mark and will welcome the leafy calm of Jackson Ward, where you’ll see the Hippodrome, the Maggie Walker Historic Site, Croaker’s Spot, the vacant lot that was once the Eggleston Hotel, and the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. Crossing Broad one last time on Adams, you’ll stride through First Friday Artwalk territory before entering Monroe Ward. This final Franklin Street stretch passes the Jefferson Hotel, the Kent-Valentine House, the Linden Row Inn, the YMCA, the Media General headquarters (not a historical site yet but maybe one day?) and the Richmond Free Press, before turning south onto 5th Street for the downhill stroll back to Brown’s Island.
RVANEWS: You are blowing my mind with this wealth of historical knowledge. I hope what you’re saying is that this is like watching ten movies while getting some exercise and chatting with all the friends you persuaded to come with you.
LHB: Precisely. Say you normally meet for coffee with 5 friends on Saturday mornings. Why not take those friends on a walk instead? You have from 9am to 1pm to complete the 6.2 mile walk, but because it’s not timed it’s more like a social event than a fitness competition. You won’t even realize you’re walking!
Possible things to do with friends along the way: Get coffee at Cafe Gutenberg. Loll about on Capitol Square. Try to fit inside the Box Brown box. Peek at the Lumpkin’s Jail excavation site. Buy paper dolls at the Valentine Gift Shop. Grab a lemonade at Croaker’s Spot. Run in and gape at The Jefferson rotunda. Pound a pint at Penny Lane along the home stretch. Enjoy bands and vendors at The Thompsen McMullan Finish Festival (Finish, not Finnish) on Brown’s Island. Bands will be playing along the route, and registrants receive a universal coupon granting them $2 off admission to museums for the next calendar year.
Did I mention that there will be bands and antique cars and things all along the route?
RVANEWS: Did I mention you are a dork?
LHB: Did I mention that I’ve set the table and you get the small fork?*
RVANEWS: DID I MENTION THAT I HATE YOU? Also, can I borrow that dress you just bought?
LHB: Sure! If I can borrow some shoes next week.
RVANEWS: Deal. See you at Dad’s this weekend.
*This is too embarrassing to explain, but suffice to say, Lesley Bruno is my older** sister.
(**She always manages to slip this in. –Lesley)
More information about the Anthem Stride Through Time and to sign up, go here.
Disclaimer: Stride Through Time / Sports Backers is a sponsor of RVANews.