Limit on Raleigh races was overdue

February 20, 2013 

Raleigh has apparently run out of patience with runners. Or, rather, with runs.

On Tuesday, the Raleigh City Council approved a cap on the number of road races and parades that cause road closings that are a bother to downtown residents along the routes, motorists passing through and businesses that become inaccessible for a few hours.

Though parades are mentioned, Santa Claus and St. Patrick aren’t the problem. It’s the legions of runners who show up for weekend road races, often catching nonparticipants unaware and either closing in or closing out people who live along popular routes such as Hillsborough Street.

Now the number of street-closing events will be capped at 100, a limit that’s likely to be reached. The number of such events has spiked in recent years, rising from 45 in 2011 to 71 in 2012 and 85 and counting for 2013.

Part of the growth reflects running’s popularity, but it’s also driven by more nonprofits using the events as low-cost fundraisers, often with the help of companies that specialize in setting up races.

The limit is a good idea and overdue. A few major races a year concentrated in downtown Raleigh are a good thing. They’re festivals of fitness that make the city itself feel more vibrant. But, as all runners know, running is a thing you must be careful not to overdo. The same applies to closing streets for racing.

Despite the limit, races can still be held frequently in and around Raleigh. The greenways and parks can be used, and other properties such as the PNC Arena and Cary’s WakeMed Soccer Park can be rented.

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