It took 125 races to do it, but this one will be immortalized, at least in the minds of Linda and I, as the race where we both won the Grand Masters trophies. With so few races even having a Grand Masters division these days (50 years and older), there are very few opportunities to win it, so it’s very likely it’s the first time and last time it’ll ever happen for us.
The JAZ Alive Memorial Scholarship 5k is held each year in honor of three high school students who died in an auto accident a few years ago, and the proceeds from the race go to a scholarship fund in their memory (JAZ stands for their first names: Jonathan, Amber, and Zachary). It’s the type of small-town race I’ve been enjoying lately with no huge crowds, parking problems, or jockeying for position at the starting line. I wasn’t able to find results from previous years online and for that reason I’m not overly optimistic there will be any official results posted online for this year either. It doesn’t really matter though and I knew that coming in. I would estimate there were about 100 runners in the race, give or take 25.
I wasn’t aware that there were so many hills in Bessemer City, or maybe they just picked streets with hills for the route, but it seemed as though there was hardly a flat area the entire race. As we settled into the first half mile or so, the young kids fizzled out after their fast starts and I was able to count the runners ahead of me. At first there were five, but I soon overtook the two who were closest to me, and although the three ahead were slowly pulling away from me they were still close enough that I could see what was going on. Leading the race was Brad McKee, the young track coach at Ashbrook High School who recently ran cross-country for St. Andrews College. He was followed by my friend Josh Barron, who had won the Cherryville race a couple weeks ago and by Shane Wilson, the brother of Mike Wilson who is in our running club. I haven’t seen Shane a lot and I didn’t even know it was him until after the race at the awards, but those were the three ahead of me. It stayed that way throughout the race until the final hill, where one of the runners that I had passed at around the 1-mile mark zoomed past me up the final hill. I could see a crowd of people in the distance, maybe 200 yards away, and I hoped that was the finish line but I wasn’t sure. I took a look behind me and I could tell there was nobody else nearly close enough to catch me so I decided that it would have no effect on where I finished so I stopped and walked for 10 or 15 seconds, just long enough to catch my breath and then headed for the finish line, which was much closer than I had thought (I guess I didn’t need the walk break). I was happy with my 5th place finish and I could see on the list as I handed the volunteer my finish card that I had won the Grand Masters since nobody ahead was over 50 years old. Of course then, it was no surprise when they called out my name at the awards ceremony, but when they called out Linda’s name as the female Grand Masters winner we were both shocked and delighted… it’s definitely the stuff of which memories are made.
Note: If I can ever find the results I’ll post a link to them here or possibly post the entire results.
3 – 1-10 Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
7 – 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
7 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
3 -10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
5 – 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)
4- 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
7 – 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
4 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
9 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
5 – 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 – 0-10 Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
0 – 0/5 Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
5 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
0 – 0-10 Other
TOTAL – 73
1st Overall Male: Brad McKee
1st Overall Female: Melissa Orr
My Stats (All are estimates since I don’t have official results):
Age Group: 1 of ?
Overall: 5 of 100?