Alternating between light and darkness, and finishing in a packed football stadium, the Jungle Run is a unique experience.
Great Outdoor Provision Co. Presents the Featured Meet of Week 3:
The Jungle Run
Hosted by South View High School, Hope Mills
(Schedule, teams attending)
The Jungle Run serves the same purpose for Eastern North Carolina that last weekend's meet provides for the western half of the state: a great early-season test for strong teams with ambition for the season, plus a chance for newcomers to get acquainted with the feel of a championship atmosphere. In the words of meet director and longtime South View head coach Jesse Autry: "The Jungle Run started out an "outside-the-box" conversation that I had with former assistants Todd Leggroan and Rick Newton back in the 2001 (I think) season. We were traveling back from Wilmington after the Seahawk Invite and discussing how we would like to host the Regional meet the next year. So, the obvious questions were, do we have the man-power and experience to make it happen? I knew we had a dedicated parent/alumni group. I said, 'I know a way we can find out, let's host an invitational.'
How would we make people want to come to Hope Mills? We needed a gimmick. So, I said, "Let's just run it at night. That will be different. It's still hot early in the season and people will think the night-time thing is cooler and just plain cool." Since we were coming back from Wilmington we discussed how we could use our wide open practice fields like UNCW does. All the stadium lights combined with rental lights would give us the geography needed to get close to 5K. A day time race on the same course would be boring, hot and monotonous. But at night, it could be awesome. Then there was the whole concept of the kids running down the hill into a crowd-filled stadium and cranking out about 350-400 meters with specators cheering. All this, we thought, would create an incredibly exciting environment. That first year we had about 16 full teams. But since then, the rest has been history."
The South View High School course is flat and fast, looping around the athletic fields on the school's fairly spacious campus. The surface is mostly low-trimmed grass over sandy soil, although areas of loose soil occur here and there, and they can be a little slippery. The course also follows a few small trail segments that connect between fields, some of which have roots that need to be avoided. The finish is in the school's football stadium, where runners have to cross over the asphalt track but can then run on the grass of the infield the rest of the way to the line. In the past, the course has been about 40 meters short of a full 5K, but meet management is trying to make up that distance this year. Jungle Run races often run 15-30 seconds faster than other races on this same course, due to the excitement and atmosphere of the nighttime race.
The Weather Channel's long-term forecast for Hope Mills predicts a high of 87 degrees and cloudy skies, but only a 20% chance of rain. After the sun goes down and the temperature cools, conditions should be great for the races!
- From the Raleigh area: via Google Maps
- From the Wilmington area: via Google Maps
- From northeastern North Carolina: via Google Maps
- From the Charlotte area: via Google Maps
- From northwest North Carolina: via Google Maps
Things to Do Outdoors Near Fayetteville
It's Labor Day weekend, the perfect time to turn a meet into a few days away from home. While many will head to the beach, there are plenty of other places in Eastern North Carolina to spend an interesting morning or afternoon. Consider some of these locations around Fayetteville if you want to make a trip of it:
- J. Bayard Clark Park: fronting the Cape Fear River, the park has a Nature Center and is preserved in a natural woodland state. Access to the 147-mile Cape Fear River Trail. More Info
- If golf is your game, the closest to the meet are Baywood Golf Club and Cypress Lakes.
- For a leisurely activity outdoors, try the Cape Fear Botanical Garden.
- The Cape Fear River is an excellent location for kayaking and canoeing. Here is some information about access if you have your own; try here if you would like to rent and have a guide.
- If you want to exercise indoors (in case of bad weather), the Cape Fear Valley Healthplex allows visitors in for a $15 daily fee. More Info