Runners begin the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10K in Richmond, Va.

The Monument Avenue 10K's flat terrain gives you a serious shot at a personal-best time. There is a slight incline at the beginning of the course, but the cheering crowd will help push you through it.

Image courtesy Sports Backers

Every spring, thousands of people descend upon Richmond, Va., for the annual Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10K, presented by Martin's. Runners from around the world arrive with different goals -- some to win the race, some to run their personal-best time and some to vie for first place in the costume contest.

Monument Avenue 10K -- sponsored through 2013 in partnership by Ukrop's Homestyle Foods and Martin's Food Markets -- got its start in 2000 with a field of almost 2,500 runners. The original idea was to create a community event for local runners while encouraging those who thought they couldn't run a block -- much less 6.2 miles -- to join the fun. With Richmond's mild spring temperatures, a relatively flat course and the race's festive atmosphere (think costumes, roadside bands and hundreds of cheering spectators), the popularity of the Monument Avenue 10K has increased dramatically. It attracts people of all ages and abilities, from the elite athlete to the casual runner. In 2010, the number of participants topped 37,000. It was the 10th largest race in the United States and the 26th largest race in the world. [source: Miles & Minutes].

Sports Backers, the organizers behind the race, have kept the Monument Avenue 10K rooted in the Richmond community. They partner with local organizations to promote fitness and well-being. There are two official race charities. VCU Massey Cancer Center offers a fundraising program for individual runners and teams to raise money for cancer research. They also recruit volunteers to help organize materials and information for runners and to man water stations. Fit For Life fights childhood obesity and promotes healthy lifestyles for children and teens; they sponsor the First Market Mile Kids Run for ages 5 to 12.

Other important information about the Monument Avenue 10K:

  • 2010 entry fee was $25. Entrance fees are nonrefundable and nontransferable.
  • Runners and walkers welcome.
  • Register online, by fax or mail. Limited registration at race expo, provided event hasn't sold out.
  • Average field size is 35,000.
  • There are 18 start "waves" organized by expected finish time.
  • There is no separate wheelchair division. Participants will be placed in waves according to expected finish time.
  • Runners must provide proof of racing time less than 56 minutes to be placed in the first 11 "seeded waves."
  • Runners receive a ChronoTrack "D" Race Time Tag to be worn on shoelaces.
  • Prize money awarded to top finishers.

[source: Sports Backers]

Has your interest to run what USA Today named one of the top races in the United States been piqued?