Honestly, as much as I like the race I probably wouldn't go either if not for the bonus points in the Running Journal Grand Prix (RJGP). For me, the RJGP races are my big races of the year. They're all great races -- a mixture of big and medium size races throughout the Southeast -- and the top eight runners in each age group get points (100, 85, 70, etc.). For the last couple years you could earn bonus points for running three races that are close together in time (February 16th to March 17th) but far apart in distance, so some travel would be involved for anybody who runs all three. The three races are the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon, the Gate River Run 15k (Jacksonville, FL) and the Germantown Half Marathon in Memphis. If you run all three you earn double points for your best race of the three. Since I ran all three and finished first in my age group at both Myrtle Beach and Germantown, I earned an extra 110 points (there's an extra 10 points for half marathons).
I hate to admit it, but I'm not the fastest runner out there, even in my own age group. There are some guys who, if they ran all of the same races I ran, would beat me. But as the old saying goes, "You must be present to win." Your girlfriend might be prettier than Miss America, but she can't be Miss America unless she actually competes in the pageant. Same goes for racing. If you want to win, you gotta show up.
Anyhoo, I wore my video sunglasses so I'll let the pictures tell most of the story. I did win the 60-64 age group, and I was 1st in the Senior Grand Masters category as well (ages 60-69). My friend Bobbi V (Roberta Villneff) also made the trip from the Charlotte area and at the age of 60 she actually won the female Grand Masters (ages 50+) by 5 minutes and her age group by about 45 minutes! She started running at the age of 58 and it's amazing to watch her progress (she's still getting faster). Also, my wife Linda, who cracked a rib last October when she tripped coming out of the finish chute at the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon, ran the 5k in Germantown for her first race back since her injury. She did great, finishing 4th out of 12 in her age group and 108th of 289 females in the 5k -- just about in the top third! Not bad for a 60-year-old lady who's had to put up with me for 30+ years!
Here's the video...
The half marathon and 5k started together. Bobbi V, JC Kelley, and I lined up just behind the elite runners...
Although there were a couple thousand runners at the start, there was plenty of elbow room...
About a mile into the race the 5k runners split off from the half marathon...
I had forgotten to bring the charger for my Garmin Forerunner GPS and had used it in the Saturday race so I didn't have my heart rate monitor and couldn't monitor my pace (which I don't do anyway) so I just ran the speed I felt was right. I was glad they had clocks at every mile and I managed to keep the pace around 7:00 to 7:15 most of the way.
Met up with Darth Vader about 4 miles into the race...
It was a little quiet for a while heading towards the turn-around.
I was right in back of Kris Huff, a great runner from the Memphis area, for about 2 miles. She eventually left me behind and finished about a minute ahead of me and was 2nd female Masters and 7th female overall...
Hit the 7-mile mark at almost exactly 50 minutes...
At this point a little over 7 miles into the race we turned around and headed back towards the start. On the left you can see the runners who are about to circle the park and school that we just left...
I felt pretty good about my time at the 10-mile mark. It was quite a bit faster than my finishing time at the Spencer Mountain 10-Miler a few months ago...
Still on track for a good race, I was thinking at 12 miles that even if it took me 10 minutes to run the last 1.1 miles that's a good race for me...
With just a tenth of a mile to go I was hoping I could make it under 1:35...
The finish line is in sight...
My official time was 1:34:58 but as I crossed the finish line I actually saw 1:35:01. Most races this size have a "gun time" and a "chip time," with the chip time starting when you cross the starting line (it can take a while in a big race). Apparently they only counted chip time and it took me about 3 seconds (we were near the front) at the beginning of the race to get to the starting line...
Johnny Goode from Birmingham, Alabama was only a little over a minute behind me. He finished as the 2nd Senior Grand Master...
The amazing Bobbi V finished about 45 minutes faster than any other female in the 60-64 age group...
J.C. Kelley, 68, of Baxter, Tennessee finished 2nd in the 65-69 age group and has a huge lead in the 65-69 age group in the Running Journal Grand Prix...
Post race celebration at Germantown is always nice. The awards were held a little later in the gym...
I got to meet Meggan Franks for the first time in person after following her blog for the past couple years. She's an outstanding runner and easily won overall 1st female with a time of 1:23:59 even though she was only running the race as a tempo run for an upcoming marathon and ran at an easy (for her) marathon pace. She's a 2:49 marathoner (won the Rock N Roll New Orleans Marathon in 2012)...
Bobbi V and me after the awards. She won 1st place Grand Masters (50+) along with 300 bucks! I won Senior Grand Masters (60+) which pays zero, but I was glad to get it anyhow. This was an RRCA (Roadrunners Clubs of America) championship race and we both won awards as Senior Grand Masters Tennessee State Champions in the half marathon...
Click Here for Race Results
Click Here for Official Race Photos
Age Group: 1 of 18
Overall: 53 of 1143 (4.6%)
Age Graded Equivalent Time: 1:16:06 (77.81%)
* RACE RATING *
3 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 - 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
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)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
1 - Cost: (0)expensive (1)reasonable (3)cheap!
0 - Race Day Registration: (0)no (3)yes
2 - Posted promptly online: (0)no (2)yes
1 - Clear link on website: (0)no (1)yes
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
0 - Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no (5)yes
5 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent ($6000+ in prize money)
2 - Age Group Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
0 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no (2)yes (3)fabulous door prizes!
5 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals
7 - Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
1 - Entertainment: (0)no (1)yes
1 - Finisher times posted after race: (0)no (1)yes
2 - Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
2 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
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
5 - Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
2 - Prices: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
0 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (2)yes (5)lots of free pics!
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
2 - Dedicated race website (0)no (2)yes
2 - Results or link to results posted on website: (0)no (2)yes
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