The China Grove Main Street Challenge is one of those races that is growing by leaps and bounds in recent years. Three years ago in 2008 there were only 254 finishers. In 2009 it swelled to 390, then in 2010 there were 531, and this year it topped out at 606 runners crossing the finish line. I really don’t like racing at night and seldom do well at it, but this is such a fun race that I just hate to miss it. It attracts some of North Carolina’s best runners. There’s a little prize money involved, but I think the big draw is that it’s a fun race on a Friday night with a great post-race celebration and lots of camaraderie among runners. I couldn’t count the number of familiar faces and friends that I had met at other races, all meeting up in the tiny town of China Grove, population 3,616, but bursting at the seams on this beautiful summer night.
Did I mention there were some fast runners out there? The top three runners all finished the race in less than 15 minutes. Charlotte speedster Jason Holder blistered the course in 16:23, a time that most of us could never even dream of, yet he finished 6th in his age group. There were 23 runners who finished in less than 18 minutes — a time that would win most local races — and 45 finished in under 20 minutes.
So, needless to say, I was somewhere back in the pack, but ultimately glad I finished in what came close to being my first DNF (Did Not Finish). At the first mile split I was at 6:55, about 20 seconds slower than my normal first mile, and I seriously considering throwing in the towel, but as I thought about having to walk back to the finish line and explain it to everybody (I didn’t have a good excuse other than feeling lousy) I decided to just keep going. It worked out generally okay and at the finish I was in the neighborhood of the times I’ve been running lately — somewhere between 21 and 22 minutes — and I managed to eke out a 2-second age group win over another runner in my age group at 21:44.
One final note… Lately my diet has been a disaster (just ask anybody who saw me with an ice cream cone AND a lime slushy 10 minutes before the China Grove race). Before I began running I was known for two things: being a ukulele player and eating way more than any one person should ever eat. I still dabble with the ukulele, but that’s relatively harmless. The eating is a problem though. I’ve decided that this week I’ll be re-joining WeightWatchers and try to climb back aboard the sensible eating wagon. As scrawny as I may still appear, I’ve gained about 10 pounds since I did my best running and I really think I need professional help. Linda and I both became Lifetime Members of WeightWatchers three years ago but we didn’t keep up the requirements so we’ll both be going back the drawing board, hopefully beginning this week.
Click Here for Race Results
5 – 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)
9 – 1-10 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)
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)
4 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
8 – 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)
5 – 0/5 Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
6 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
TOTAL – 91
1st Overall Male: Ryan Woods (14:46)
1st Overall Female: Caitlin Chrisman (17:21)
Total Finishers: 606
Age Group: 1 of 19
Overall: 83 of 606 (13.7%)