It was my first race in Newton and I’d been looking forward to it for a while. Having grown up in nearby Hickory, I had always heard of the “Old Soldiers Reunion” in Newton. It’s one of the oldest events of its type in the country, having begun in 1889 and held annually ever since except for two years in the 1940s when it was canceled due to a polio outbreak. The 5k part of the festival is fairly new, relatively speaking, but this was the 19th annual 5k race.
It was also a special race for me because I lived in Newton for a year or two about 1966. It was the town where I sowed the wildest of all my wild oats as a 14-year-old rebel without a real cause back in 1966. It was more than I or anyone else could handle, and before my 15th birthday it landed me in Stonewall Jackson Training School, where they had a way of getting things like that out of your system. I’ll save the details for my never-to-be-published autobiography, but suffice it to say that on those rare occasions when I visit Newton it really brings back all kinds of mixed emotions for me.
The 5k course was a good one. It actually started out up a steep hill for maybe 200 feet, but then it flattened out for the remainder of the first mile. The second mile had a few easy rolling hills but nothing too strenuous, then we circled around what used to be the old county hospital (I’m not sure what it is now) and headed back to town for the finish. I liked that there were only a handful of turns in the entire race.
I heard an announcement after the race that there were 349 runners but I’m not sure whether that was for just the 5k or also for the fun run, but it was a good crowd. It wasn’t my best race ever, but I did manage to finish first in my age division with a time of 22:10. The trophies were perfect: appropriately sized for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in each age group and clearly inscribed with all of the race information. Mine says: Soldiers Reunion 5k Run — Male Age 55-59 — 1st Place — 2009. Why don’t more races do that? The trophies for the overall winners were spectacular (you can see them in the photos).
The T-shirts were nice as well. They were bright yellow cotton and nicely designed. This shirt will be one of the 10% or so of race T-shirts I have that I’ll actually wear.
The post-race food consisted mostly of fruit (apples, oranges, bananas, cantaloupe, and watermelon) and this was the first race I’ve been in that in addition to water and sports drinks also had soft drinks afterwards. Not the healthiest choice, I know, but the Diet Mountain Dew hit the spot with me… anybody ever notice water doesn’t have a taste?
I’ve included 112 photos I took, and as always, you can view or download the high quality originals (3000 x 4000 pixels) for free by clicking on the slideshow and going to the Picasa site to view them.
4 – 1-10 Website (Informaton, results, registration, photo links, etc.) 10 – 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10) 8 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10) 7 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10) 8 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average) 4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No) 0 – 0/5 Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No) 6 – 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No) 7 – 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No) 8 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average) 8 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average) 5 – 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average) 7 – 3/7 Age Groups (7 if 5-year groups; 3 if 10-year groups) 5 – 0/5 Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided) 6 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities 0 – 0-10 Other