Thursday, July 17, 2014

Race #263 - Athletic Quilt Street Light 5k - Morganton, NC - 07/12/14

To say there's not much advance promotion for this race is an understatement. There's no website or even a Facebook page, which could be set up for free in about 5 minutes. I couldn't even find an address for it until I saw that somebody on Facebook had posted the address of the Roses store in Morganton. Having said all that, it was their 20th annual race and word of mouth over the years has resulted in it becoming a popular race even without any promotion. It's a nighttime race, beginning at 9:30 p.m. There are enough street lights that the entire out-and-back course is lit pretty well except in just a handful of areas. There aren't any hills at all and no turns to slow you down so it should be a really fast course, but most nights in the middle of July are hot and muggy and that generally slows things down. On this night it was really muggy, resulting in several people dropping out, and there was also at least one runner who needed an ambulance. From what I've heard, that runner recovered okay, but it was definitely a hot one.

Something about this race brings older runners out of the woodwork, with all of the older age groups being more competitive than at almost any race I know of. I managed to squeak by Daryl Simpson of Virginia by less than a minute to win the 60-64 age group. The 65-69 age group was even more competitive, with four runners finishing from 23:17 to 24:54. Two runners in their 70s finished in under 30 minutes.

Pros:
  • Money Drawing: Probably the biggest appeal of the race is that after the race part of the proceeds are given back to the runners at a drawing. It changes from year to year but this time around they gave $40 to ten different people and a grand prize of $100 to one lucky runner for a grand total of $500. This year I didn't go home with any of the loot, but when I ran here a few years ago I won $50 in the drawing. 
  • Low Cost: This is one of the rare races that knocks off 5 bucks if you don't want a shirt, making it $15 for race-day registration. I've got a lifetime supply of T-shirts so I always take that option when it's available.
Cons:
  • No website and very little information can be found for the race. 

Click Here for Overall Race Results

Click Here for Age Group Results

My Stats:

Time: 21:51
Pace:  7:02
Age Group:  1 of  10
Overall:  61 of  446
Average Heart Rate: 163
Maximum Heart Race: 175
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  17:16 (74.71%)

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 - Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 - Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 - Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
3 - Course Scenery:  (0-5) 1=bad  and 5=fantastic
2 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
5 - Finish line: (0-9)   0=bad  and 9=spectacular!
2 - Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 - Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION
5 - Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
3 - Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS
2 - Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Clear link on race website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 - 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 - 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 - 14 and under group (1)
1 - 65+ group (1)
1 - 70+ group (1)
2 - Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
2 - Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes
0 - Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes

AWARDS
5 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
5 - Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
9 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
0 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
6 - Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
6 - Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
2 - Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

REST ROOMS
2 - Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
0 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 - T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
0 - Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
2 - Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
0 - Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
x - Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
2 - Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

OTHER
0 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
0 - Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes


TOTAL:  95

Monday, July 7, 2014

Race #262 - HFFA Firecracker 5k - Huntersville, NC - 07/05/14

This was my third time to run the Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatics (HFFA) Firecracker 5k but the first time in three years. There was one noticeable difference from the two previous races: the race this year was less than half the size that it was then. In 2009 there were 401 finishers and in 2011 a whopping 471 finishers, but this year only 152 crossed the finish line. I'm not sure why the race has shrunk so drastically, but possibly the result of new races that have sprung up since then, most notably the Run for Your Life Spectacular 4-Miler and the Charlotte Firecracker 5k, which are both fairly new and popular races (although the Charlotte Firecracker 5k was canceled at the last minute this year because of severe thunderstorms). Anyhoo, this is an enjoyable race on a good course and if nothing else it was nice to be able to compare my present running times with those from previous years. This year my time of 21:19 was a little slower than 2011 (20:23) but a little faster than 2009 (21:39). 

Age Graded Equivalents:

2009 - Age 57 - 21:39 - Equivalent Time: 17:52 (72.19%)
2011 - Age 59 - 20:23 - Equivalent Time: 16:32 (78.01%)
2014 - Age 62 - 21:19 - Equivalent Time: 16:51 (76.58%)




My Stats:

Time:  21:19
Pace:  6:52
Age Group: 1 of  3 
Overall:  21 of  152
Average Heart Rate: 163 
Maximum Heart Race:  171
Age Graded Equivalent Time: 16:51 (76.58%) 

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE  
3 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 - Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 - Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 - Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
3 - Course Scenery:  (0-5) 1=bad  and 5=fantastic
2 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
7 - Finish line: (0-9)   0=bad  and 9=spectacular!
2 - Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 - Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION  
2 - Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
3 - Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS 
2 - Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS 
2 - 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 - 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 - 14 and under group (1)
1 - 65+ group (1)
1 - 70+ group (1)
2 - Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
0 - Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes
0 - Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes

AWARDS 
5 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent ($150 1st; $100 2nd; $50, 3rd)
2 - Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent (Gift Certificates - $20, $10, $5)
0 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
0 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

My friend and GCR runner Matt Longworth was 1st Overall and won 150 bucks for 16 minutes of work!

POST RACE  
5 - Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
6 - Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
2 - Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

REST ROOMS  
0 - Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
2 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS 
2 - T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
0 - Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 - Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY  
0 - Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
x - Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
2 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING  
2 - Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

OTHER 
2 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
0 - Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes


TOTAL:  84

The local fire department saw to it that the kids didn't get overheated in the Super Soaker 100 yard dash!


Friday, July 4, 2014

Race #261 - Fighting ALS with Jay 5k - Fort Mill, SC - 06/28/14

This was the 2nd annual "Fighting ALS with Jay 5k" held for Jay Tolar, who now lives in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Last year's race was held in San Antonio, Texas, where Jay was living at that time. This year's race was handled by Start2Finish Event Management, which with their great use of technology is becoming one of my favorites. Every race they've done that I've been a part of has been outstanding as far as timing, quick results, great finish line, etc., and this one was no exception.

Pros:

  • Nice size -- Not too big and not too small (287 finishers).
  • Immediate printout of your race results as soon as you finish.
  • Nice finish on middle school track.
  • Nice medal for age group winners.
  • Finish line video for all runners posted on YouTube...



Cons:

  • No complaints other than the sound on the video (you might want to turn your volume down).
Click Here for Race Results

My Stats:

Time:  21:34
Pace:  6:57
Age Group: 1 of  6
Overall:  17 of  287 (6%)
Average Heart Rate:  166
Maximum Heart Race:  176
Age Graded Equivalent Time: 17:03  (75.7%)

Me and wife Linda (she won her age group!) and our friend Jennifer from SC.
Notice the "finisher whistles" that were given to all of the race finishers.


***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 - Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 - Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 - Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
3 - Course Scenery:  (0-5) 1=bad  and 5=fantastic
1 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
7 - Finish line: (0-9)   0=bad  and 9=spectacular!
2 - Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 - Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes*  (1)no (*small section of grass)

REGISTRATION
2 - Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
3 - Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS
2 - Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 - 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 - 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 - 14 and under group (1)
1 - 65+ group (1)
1 - 70+ group (1)
2 - Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
2 - Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes
0 - Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes

AWARDS
5 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
5 - Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
5 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
3 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes*  (5)really cool medals
       (*Not a medal but all finishers received a whistle... kinda neat...)

POST RACE
5 - Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
4 - Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
0 - Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

REST ROOMS
2 - Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
0 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 - T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 - Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
0 - Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 - Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
0 - Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
x - Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
2 - Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

OTHER
0 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
0 - Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes


TOTAL:  86

Me and Ken Simpson after the awards. I won the 60-64 age group and he won the 70-and-over division.
Besides the winners certificate all of the age group winners received a nice custom-made medal.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Race #260 - Rhododendron Run 10k - Bakersville, NC - 06/21/14

The Rhododendron Run 10k is now in its 37th year, making it one of North Carolina's oldest road races. It's held on the weekend of Bakersville's Rhododendron Festival, and this year it was chosen to be the RRCA State Championship 10k road race. I've wanted to run this race for several years but never have because it's not easy to get to from Gastonia. This year though, since it was the state championship, Linda and I made the trip up the mountain and spent the night in nearby Spruce Pine in one of the 50-year-old motels in the area. It was the weekend of our 35th wedding anniversary so it was a good time to get away for a couple days.

Being in the mountains the course was far from flat, but after looping around the town for the first mile the remainder of the race was an out-and-back through the countryside so whatever hills you climbed you got to go back down them on the return.

Pros:

  • Beautiful setting:  It's hard to beat running a road race through a Blue Ridge mountain community holding its biggest celebration of the year.
  • Pancake breakfast:  Mmmmm... Pancakes, bacon, coffee, orange juice.
  • RRCA State Championship: That's why I was there, of course. I can't win 'em all, but if I'm able to get to a state championship race I'll be there. If I don't win at least I'll try to provide a little competition to whoever beats me. This time I was fortunate to win the Senior Grandmasters Championship... Yay me!
  • Door Prizes:  The awards were interspersed with drawings for various items... It definitely keeps people around for the awards!

Cons:

  • One small hiccup that only affected a handful of runners (unfortunately I was one of them) was that this was the first state championship race that didn't allow "double dipping." In most of these races if you win the state championship it's a separate award and you also win the age group award separately. It's no big deal since my main goal was to win the one I actually ended up with. The age group awards were really nice plaques though and Linda received one for finishing 3rd in her age group.


Click Here for Race Results


In my last couple of State Championship races I've finished second,
so I was really happy to finally win this award.
My Stats:

Time:  44:12
Pace:  7:07
Age Group: 1 of  7
Overall:  18 of  132  (14.3%)
Average Heart Rate:  165
Maximum Heart Race:  174
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  34:56  (76.87%)

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 - Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 - Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 - Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
4 - Course Scenery:  (0-5) 1=bad  and 5=fantastic
2 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
6 - Finish line: (0-9)   0=bad  and 9=spectacular!
2 - Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 - Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION
5 - Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
3 - Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS
2 - Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 - 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 - 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 - 14 and under group (1)
1 - 65+ group (1)
1 - 70+ group (1)
2 - Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
2 - Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
3 - Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes  (*RRCA)
5 - Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes  (*RRCA)

AWARDS
5 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
5 - Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
5 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
0 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
8 - Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
3 - Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
0 - Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

REST ROOMS
0 - Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
2 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 - T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 - Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
0 - Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 - Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
0 - Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
x - Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
2 - Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

OTHER
2 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
2 - Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes (*RRCA State Championship)


TOTAL:  104

Friend and speedster Bobby Aswell Jr. was the Grand Masters champ (age 50-59)
and took some time after the race to pose in the rain. The weather was actually
pretty good except for a downpour for about 30 minutes that started when I was
about 5 miles into the 6.2-mile race.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Race #259 - The Cat's Cradle 5k/10k - Morganton, NC - 06/14/14

Last year a few of the Gaston County Runners made the trip up Interstate 40 to Morganton for this race and spoke highly of it, so this year even more of us attended (15-20 maybe?). The Cat's Cradle is a nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing, sheltering, and finding homes for homeless cats. I'm a cat lover, so I'm all for supporting a race that rescues cats, and the organizers are doing a great job with this race so I hope it will continue for many years.

Having run two half marathons in the previous two weeks and with a 10k on my schedule for the week after this race, I decided to take it easy and run the 5k instead of the 10k.

Pros:
  • Cheap! Race day registration was only $20 for your choice of either the 5k or the 10k!
  • Flat and mostly shady course on the greenway that runs along the Catawba River, with the race starting and finishing at the beautiful Catawba Meadows Park.
  • Both the 5k and 10k have 5-year age groups all the way up to 80+.
  • Lots of good food for runners after the race (especially great pastries).
  • Results posted quickly after the finish, both at the race site and online.
  • A drawing was held after the awards (gift certificates, merchandise, etc.).
Cons:
  • No photography. It would be great if they had either a professional race photographer or just one or more volunteers with point-and-shoot cameras taking photos of runners that could be posted after the race. I believe it would generate more interest in the race (runners love race photos!).
  • Can't think of anything else I didn't like. I hope to make this a regular race I run every year.

Race Results:

-- 5k Overall
-- 5k Age Groups

-- 10k Overall
-- 10k Age Groups


My Stats:

Time: 21:07
Pace:  6:48
Age Group: 1 of  3
Overall: 7 of  114  (6.1%)
Average Heart Rate: 162
Maximum Heart Race: 175
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  16:41 (77.31%)

Some of the Gaston County Runners who ran the race.


***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 - Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 - Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 - Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
2 - Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (2)pleasant  (5)extraordinary
1 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
5 - Finish line: (0)mediocre  (2)not bad  (5)very good  (7)spectacular!
2 - Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 - Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION
5 - Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
3 - Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS
2 - Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 - 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 - 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 - 14 and under group (1)
1 - 65+ group (1)
1 - 70+ group (1)
2 - Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
0 - Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes
0 - Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes

AWARDS
5 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
2 - Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
8 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
0 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
9 - Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
6 - Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
2 - Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

REST ROOMS
0 - Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
2 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 - T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 - Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
0 - Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 - Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
0 - Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
x - Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
2 - Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

OTHER
2 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
0 - Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes


TOTAL:  92


Friday, June 13, 2014

Race #258 - Downhill at Dawn Half Marathon - Black Mountain to Old Fort, NC - 06/07/14

This was my 65th half marathon, and my fastest half marathon ever. It was my first half under the seemingly unattainable (for me) hour and thirty minutes. My old PR (Personal Record) of 1:31:57 had stood since the autumn of 2011, when I had set all of my race PR's and did my best running ever. In 2011 I was 59 years old, and that was my best year of running since I began at age 56. Now at age 62 I seem to be undergoing a resurgence for some reason, at least for now. It may end in a week or two but it'll be interesting to see how things go over the next few months. I'm hoping it continues for a while.

Running buddy Stu Stepp from Salisbury finished just ahead of me.
He's gotten way faster than me over the past year so I was happy
just to be able to almost keep up with him.
Sure, I had the help of about 6 miles of downhill running so it wouldn't hold up if there was some kind of official record involved, but for me it's a Personal Record that I'll proudly proclaim, so people should probably try to avoid me over the next month or two while I get over my exuberance.

Pros:


  • Hard to beat 6 miles of downhill for a fast finish time. That still left another 7 miles or so of either flat or uphill, but it's still the fastest race that most of us will ever run.
  • Plenty of rooms were available at the Ridgecrest Conference Center and prices were reasonable. The race started only about 50 yards from the room where we stayed. It wasn't fancy (no TVs in any of the rooms, for example) but it was okay and very convenient.
  • The temperatures tend to be a little cooler up in the mountains, and that helps when you run a half marathon in June.
  • In addition to a professional photographer with reasonable prices, there were also hundreds of photos that are available for free on Facebook.


Cons:


  • Point-to Point course, with the finish line about 10 miles away from the starting line. The shuttle bus was fine but it's always nice if you can just hop in your car and leave after the race where the start and finish are at the same spot.
  • There was more unpaved road to run on than I expected (maybe 3-5 miles?). It wasn't a huge problem but I'm a road runner and prefer pavement.
  • Underwhelming finish line. Plenty of people besides me had an all-time PR in this race. A more impressive finish line would have had me (and probably others) wanting to buy the finish line photo of my memorable finish.

Results and Photos:





This was one of the free post-race pics available on Facebook.
My Stats:

Time: 1:29:25
Pace:  6:49
Age Group: 1 of  8
Overall: 20 of  453
Average Heart Rate: (Heart monitor wasn't working correctly)
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:10:59 (83.42% -- My highest percentage ever!)

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 - Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
5 - Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 - Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
2 - Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (2)pleasant  (5)extraordinary
1 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
0 - Finish line: (0)mediocre  (2)not bad  (5)very good  (7)spectacular!
2 - Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 - Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION
2 - Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 - Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS
2 - Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 - 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 - 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
0 - 14 and under group (1)
1 - 65+ group (1)
1 - 70+ group (1)
3 - Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
2 - Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes
0 - Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes

AWARDS
2 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
2 - Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
0 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
5 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
5 - Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
4 - Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
2 - Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

REST ROOMS
2 - Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
2 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 - T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
0 - Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 - Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
5 - Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
2 - Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
5 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
2 - Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
0 - Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

OTHER
0 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
0 - Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes


TOTAL:  82

Some of the Gaston County Runners after the race.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Race #257 - Charity Chase Half Marathon - Hickory, NC - 06/01/14

This week I revisited the place I call my hometown even though I left it more than half a lifetime ago. It was my fifth straight year of running this race and every time it's been one of my favorite races of the year. The course passes the site where I lived fifty years ago, now just an empty lot full of memories. It passes my old high school, travels past the houses of old friends, and runs along roads where I still remember every curve.

Every year it reminds me of how fortunate I am to still be doing what I love, and it amazes me that I'm able to run 13 miles in relative comfort, which is something that I would have thought to be nearly impossible when I was a teenager if running that distance ever even crossed my mind.

So no doubt I'm biased in my appreciation of this race, but the Charity Chase should appeal to all half marathoners whether or not they've ever stepped foot in the City of Hickory before race day. It's one of finest races you'll find anywhere.

This year was my fastest of the five times I've run the race, finishing 26th overall at a time of 1:36:43. Because of the hills it's not a course where you'll run your fastest times, but the cooler weather this year (about 59 degrees at the start) helped.

GCR friends after the race.

Pros:

  • Best water stops of any race. Local nonprofits compete to see who can do it best and runners can vote for their favorite.
  • Big enough, but not so big that you get lost in the crowd either during or after the race (418 finishers this year).
  • Great crowd support.
  • Nice tech T-shirts.
  • Excellent awards ceremony.
  • Great downtown location for pre- and post-race activities.
  • Plenty of free parking nearby.
  • Live streaming video online of race start and finish.
  • Great pro photography with very affordable pricing and pics published the same day of the race.
  • Post-race pizza!

Cons:

  • There are some killer hills. That comes with the territory when you're in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains so it's not unexpected, but it discourages some people from running this race.
  • No real complaints... Great race!


Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Race Photos


Thanks to Bobby Aswell for this finish line photo!
My Stats:

Time:  1:36:43
Pace:  7:23
Age Group:  1 of  6
Overall:  26 of  418 (6.2%)
Average Heart Rate:  165
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:16:47 (77.12%)

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 - Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
5 - Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 - Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
2 - Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (2)pleasant  (5)extraordinary
1 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
5 - Finish line: (0)mediocre  (2)not bad  (5)very good  (7)spectacular!
2 - Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 - Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

REGISTRATION
2 - Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 - Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS
2 - Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
2 - 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 - 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 - 14 and under group (1)
1 - 65+ group (1)
0 - 70+ group (1)
2 - Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
0 - Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes
0 - Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes

AWARDS
5 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
2 - Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
0 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
5 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
9 - Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
7 - Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
2 - Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

REST ROOMS
2 - Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
1 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 - T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 - Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
2 - Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 - Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY
5 - Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
5 - Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
2 - Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

OTHER
0 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
0 - Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes


TOTAL:  97