Race #125 – JAZ Alive 5k – Bessemer City, NC – 05/14/11

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.

Race Rating:

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

Race Stats:

1st Overall Male:  Brad McKee
1st Overall Female:  Melissa Orr

My Stats (All are estimates since I don’t have official results):

Time:  21:40
Age Group:  1 of  ?
Overall:  5 of  100?

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6 Replies to “Race #125 – JAZ Alive 5k – Bessemer City, NC – 05/14/11”

  1. Hi Richard,

    I came across your blog while searching for info on the upcoming NB MT110, but wow – how do you go from 208 pounds to a sub 20 minute 5K in three years?

    I am a forty something “middle of the pack” trail runner trying to make a come back of sorts after a couple of decades of minimal activity.

    Any input you can give me would be greatly appreciated!

    BTW – I am in Spartanburg County.


  2. I ran the race. It was my first 5k race, and I started somewhere near the middle of the pack…and managed to win my age group with a time of 30.04. I held back during the race…didn’t want to injure myself, and I wanted to keep a steady pace. I’ve been running for around 8 months now, and I try to do this at least 4 times a week.

  3. @Anonymous… Congratulations on winning your age group in your first race! Hope you’ll keep it up… the races are great motivation!

    @Larry Linux (Chris)… I added your blog to my Blogroll just now. I was actually about 193 pounds when I started, and I’m not really running a sub 20-minute 5k every week but I did run one. (I’m usually about 21-22 minutes on a 5k.) I’m not really sure why I’ve had as much success as I have, but it’s nice being one of the faster 59-year-olds out there. I never ran before I started at 56 and some people say I have “fresh legs” for whatever that’s worth. I saw on your blog you’re starting heart rate training. That’s great, and that’s one of the things that helps me tremendously. Unlike most people who use heart rate training, I don’t like the overly complicated formulas I see with some of the different methods (there are many ways to go about using a heart rate monitor). Anyhoo, I’m all for simplicity, and the book “Heart Monitor Training for the Compleat Idiot” has been my greatest tool for success. It was written by John L. Parker, Jr., who also wrote the novel, “Once a Runner,” which is regarded as the greatest novel about running ever written. It’s so easy to read and understand that you can learn what needs to be done in about 15 minutes. After that you’ll spend some time fine tuning it for your own needs but it’s never complicated. I sometimes see what other people are doing with heart rate training and my eyes glaze over after about a minute.


  4. Great job as usual Richard.

    To Larry,

    I started running in 1976 at 257 pounds, ran my 1st race in 1978 within 5 years had lost over 100 pounds. My advice is to run, race and become addicted – the rest will take care of itself. By the way, like Richard I am now 56 (almost 57), weight 175 and love this sport. Would have been dead years ago if I had not started running. Go for it and live a long and healthy life!

    Steve Staley

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