Race #184 - The Scream! Half Marathon - Jonas Ridge, NC - 07/14/12

It was the second running of The Scream! Half Marathon, which is a point-to-point race that begins in the North Carolina mountains in the town of Jonas Ridge and ends about 2,000 feet below in Mortimer, which as far as I can tell isn't really a town but more like a small, sparsely populated community that might or might not be found as the smallest dot on a map.

I ran it last year and it was a lot of fun and the only half marathon I know of anywhere in the Carolinas in the month of July. Since I try to run at least one half marathon every month it'll probably be on my schedule for as long as they have it in July or until I give up on the half-marathon-a-month business. Incidentally, this was my 10th half marathon of 2012 and my 40th half marathon since I began running almost four years ago. My reasoning has been that if I run a lot of half marathons I'll get used to them and it won't be a big deal, and while that plan seems to have worked in some ways it's still pretty exhausting to run a hard 13.1 miles as often as I do.

The biggest drawback of this race is the logistical nightmare of getting there. The easiest part is getting from the start line to finish line -- you just run the race from the beginning to the end. More difficult is getting to the starting line. You can pay an extra fee (I think it was $12) to ride a shuttle bus up or have somebody drive you up or just drive up yourself then go back and get your car after the race. It's definitely worth the extra 12 bucks to take the shuttle, which I did. Last year runners were able to park at or near the finish line, but this year there were some last-minute problems with the local authorities that changed the plan to having everybody park 8 miles away at Brown Mountain Beach so all of the post-race activities were held there instead of the race finish. It actually worked out okay though and everybody was able to catch the shuttle buses back for post-race food and the awards ceremony.

I'm not much for carpooling. I'm well aware that my incessant blabbering, back-seat driving, and multiple other personality quirks are capable of driving people bananas, so usually it's just Linda and I traveling to races together alone. After 33 years of marriage she's adapted well and, although she hasn't mentioned it, it's a lot of trouble to start off with somebody new so she seems resigned to keep me along with all of my peculiarities. Despite my hesitancy to carpool, some friends and I from the Gaston County Runners, (Rick, Shashi, and Matt) decided to ride up together since it's a long haul on a desolate and winding road and none of us could take our families along anyway. We met at 4:00 a.m. just to be sure we'd make it for the shuttle bus at 6:30 and we were among the first to arrive. It had started to rain lightly when we got there, but no more than 5 minutes after we got out of the car it was raining cats and dogs and the rain beating down on the tin roof of the empty pavilion seemed like a million tiny drums warning us of impending doom. To make matters worse, there was an intense thunderstorm with lightning striking all around us. We were lucky in that we made it to a bus before most of the lightning started, but there were plenty of other runners who had to risk life and limb to make it onto one of the buses. To make matters worse, the first two of the four shuttle buses had their air conditioning turned on instead of the heat. When I questioned bus driver #1 about it he told me they called him "The Polar Bear," to which I responded by going to find a warm bus, which I found on the third bus, driven by a lady who was glad to accommodate the soaked runners who were lucky enough to get on bus #3 with some warmth.

After a long bus ride (20 miles maybe?) we finally arrived at the start. Thankfully it wasn't raining on top of the mountain and it felt great to me. The temperature was in the upper 60s, which is perfect by my standards, but it turned out that the 100% humidity made things difficult for some runners, including me. Or at least I think it was the humidity that caused me to run about 4 minutes slower than I ran the same race last year. It could have just been that I'm older and in not quite as good shape as last year, but there seemed to be a general trend among those who ran it last year that their times were slower this year by several minutes. There were exceptions, of course, but of all the people I know who were there last year, the only one I know of who was faster this year was Sharon Davis, and she's been running great for the past few months, quite a bit better than she did in 2011.

Finish line photo by Bobby Aswell.
I was a little disappointed that I was over 1:36 but considering the humidity, a little lower fitness level, and recent problems with piriformis syndrome maybe it's probably about right. Looking back at my Garmin data, it was interesting to see that in the last 2 miles I ran nearly a minute slower than I ordinarily would have with a pace of 8:14 and 8:25 in the 12th and 13th mile respectively, yet my heart rate was 168-169 in those last 2 miles, which would ordinarily keep me at a sub-7:30 pace. It's the first time I've ever seen that much of a discrepancy and I'm not sure what caused it.

Click Here for Overall Race Results

Click Here for Age Group Race Results

Click Here for Facebook Photos by Vac & Dash

Click Here for Facebook Photos by Bobby Aswell

My Stats:

Time:  1:36:21
Pace:  7:21
Age Group:  1 of  5
Overall:  39 of  284
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:17:57 (75.97%)

Post race ice water bath. Photo by Vac & Dash.

* RACE RATING  (100 Possible Points) *

Note: With my new rating system (started in December 2011) there's not a chance of any race scoring near 100. If it's important to you, look at each individual category to see how points were earned (or not). Just trying to be more objective with the details. I generally like all of the races I run. If there's something that really rubs me the wrong way I'll mention it in the summary above.

RACE COURSE  (20 possible points)
3 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 - Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 - Water Stops: (at least 1 for 5k, 2 for 10k, 4 for half marathon) (2 points)
1 - Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
1 - Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (1)good
1 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
2 - Finish line: (0)mediocre  (2)pretty good to excellent
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  (6 possible points)
1 - Cost:  (0)expensive  (1)reasonable  (3)cheap!
0 - Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS  (3 possible points)
2 - Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 - Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS  (13 possible points)
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)
1 - Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (1)top 3 or better
1 - Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (1)yes
0 - Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (1)yes

AWARDS  (9 possible points)
2 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (1)yes  (2)excellent
2 - Age Group Awards: (0)none  (1)yes  (2)excellent
0 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes
3 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (1)yes  (3)really cool medals

POST RACE  (7 possible points)
2 - Food for Race Participants: (0)none  (1)some  (2)adequate  (5)a feast! (Not bad... but no pizza!)
0 - Entertainment:  (0)no  (1)yes
1 - Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (1)yes

REST ROOMS  (4 possible points)
1 - Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
0 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS  (8 possible points)
2 - T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 - Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice
2 - Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 - Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY  (12 possible points)
0 - Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
x - Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
2 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes

PARKING  (8 possible points)
0 - Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
0 - Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
0 - Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

WEBSITE  (5 possible points)
2 - Dedicated race website (0)no  (2)yes
1 - No dedicated site but separate page on other site (organization, running store, etc):  (0)no  (1)yes
2 - Results or link to results posted on website:  (0)no  (2)yes

OTHER  (5 possible points)
0 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (1)yes, some  (2)excellent
0 - Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (1)yes

TOTAL:  57

Shannon Johnstone, Matt Hoholek, Rick Gagnon, Richard Hefner, Sharon Davis, Bobbi Villneff.


  1. Richard, congrats on your latest race result. I hear it was a Scream!

    And 40 half-marathons is fantastic!

    That transition from downhill to flat(tish) towards the end is a difficult adjustment, that's for sure. My last three splits at The Scream (2011): 7:15, 7:48, 8:44. I don't quite understand it. That last mile I felt like I was running through Jello.

    Anyway, congrats on doing that race in those conditions. Tough one.

  2. Thanks Ken! I was definitely dying in those last 2 miles. I guess I wasn't alone. One day later (today) I'm about as sore as I've ever been. Just ran 1 mile on the treadmill in 14:02.

  3. It's my First HalfJuly 8, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    Thanks for an excellent review. I'm training for a Nov marathon (Savannah) and signed up for this thinking it would be a good training run I could do at about marathon goal pace. After seeing your comments, I'm a little concerned about two things: First, will I be able to run the next week? To stay on my marathon training track, I need to be able to do intervals Monday, and reccovered enough to do 8 miles easy Tues, 10 Wed, and a 17 mile backloaded run Sat. Second, how does the pace of this run compare to your "normal" halfs? I'm concerned if it is a lot slower, then i will worry I'm off with my marathon goal pace. Thanks for any help you can give.

  4. I think it'll be great as a training run leading up to your marathon in November! That's still a long way off. You might need to alter what you do for a few days but it's not going to make a big difference in your conditioning if you switch your training program up some, especially just for a week or two. I've run The Scream twice now and first time I got a PR (I think it was 1:32:11). The second time was this one in 2012 and I was closer to my normal half marathon time. Depends on a variety of factors. Just run and enjoy it then use common sense in taking a few days off if you need to before getting back on your marathon training program.


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