Due to a variety of circumstances, none having to do with my health, I managed to skip racing on three consecutive weeks for the first time ever since I began running nearly four years ago. I feel like I function better in every way when I race every week so I was really looking forward to getting back into the races this week.
Since I’m trying to run a half marathon in every month this year my only choice was this one or one up in the mountains. I’m not a big fan of mountain races with all the hills so I picked this completely flat indoor half marathon. It’s rare to find a race at an indoor track, and even more rare to find a half marathon on a track. The race was held at the JDL Fast Track, a huge indoor track facility located in a large industrial park in Winston-Salem that will host the Big South Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship in 2013 and also plays host to many college and high school indoor track events. Normally you would run the standard oval track with all turns being to the left, but the organizers decided since that much left-hand turning would result in major boredom at the very least, and possibly even injuries, they would create a course that included both right and left turns. If my count was correct there were a total of 10 turns on the 500-meter course, and since we ran it 42 times the result was a race with 420 turns, and that’s a bunch of turning. The end result was that even though it was completely flat the multitude of turns made for a fairly slow race.
The organizers limited the field to 125 runners, but I was surprised to learn when I picked up my chip that only 35 runners had signed up. With everybody complaining about the hot and muggy weather this time of year I would have thought the race would have sold out. Nevertheless, it met the criteria of my self-imposed obligatory half marathon for August so it didn’t really matter to me how many people were running.
This was my first race in Winston-Salem so I didn’t know anybody other than Butch Holt, who also came up from the Charlotte area to run. Butch and I are in the same age group (60-64) and he’s always a force to be reckoned with. I usually do well in my age group, but when Butch is there I usually finish about one spot lower on the age group totem pole than I would when he’s not there.
The race started off about as low-key as I’ve ever seen. Somebody yelled “Go” and we were off, with most of us not expecting the quick start. Within a hundred yards or so I found myself in 2nd place, just behind one of the younger local runners, and Butch was somewhere behind me. After a lap or so I decided the pace was just too slow so I took over the lead and led for a couple laps before the younger runner caught back up with me. We started lapping people and then he went ahead of me but nobody else caught up with us until Butch caught up with me several miles into the race. We talked a little bit and I figured he already knew but I pointed out that the only person ahead of us was that same runner, who was wearing a distinctive yellow shirt so he was easy to spot. I kept up with Butch for a couple laps before he took off in pursuit of the leader. I followed both of them for what seemed like forever and they stayed together for a while until Butch finally pulled ahead of him. I noticed that I was closing the gap on the 2nd place guy and probably around 8 miles or so into the race I caught him and again we ran together for a while and talked. Butch looked strong and was beating us by probably a few seconds each lap so we knew we wouldn’t catch him unless something unforeseen happened. I thought to myself that it wouldn’t be bad if I could get 3rd place overall. Looking behind me, the only people I could see were people we had passed so we felt like we had a pretty good lead. As I ran along with the other runner, all of a sudden I realized he wasn’t there anymore. I didn’t look back but could sense that he had disappeared somehow. A few laps later I saw him about a half lap in back of me. After the race he told me he had started out too fast and died after 9 or 10 miles. For the rest of the race I was only aware of me and Butch. He was still running strong. I was doing okay but was having to make myself speed up when my heart rate started getting too low. Eventually Butch lapped everybody in the field, including me. I’m pretty sure I lapped everybody except for Butch and possibly the 3rd and 4th place finishers. Regardless, Butch finished 1st overall in the race and I finished 2nd overall. It’s not often that two guys in their 60s finish 1st and 2nd in a race, so we were both happy with the outcome. I heard that 34 people started the race, but the results show that only 25 finished. I’m not sure what happened to the others but possibly it had something to do with all of the turns.
Click Here for Race Results
Overall: 2 of 25
* 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
0 – Course Scenery: (0)bad (1)good
2 – 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
0 – Certified Course: (0)no (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads: (0)yes (1)no
REGISTRATION (6 possible points)
3 – 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)
0 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
0 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
0 – 14 and under group (1)
0 – 65+ group (1)
0 – 70+ group (1)
1 – Top Overall M/F: (0)none or first only (1)top 3 or better
0 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no (1)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+): (0)no (1)yes
AWARDS (9 possible points)
1 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none (1)yes (2)excellent
1 – Age Group Awards: (0)none (1)yes (2)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no (2)yes
0 – 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!
0 – Entertainment: (0)no (1)yes
0 – Finisher times posted after race: (0)no (1)yes
REST ROOMS (4 possible points)
0 – Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
2 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
T-SHIRTS (8 possible points)
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no (2)yes
1 – 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
0 – Prices: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
0 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (2)yes
PARKING (8 possible points)
2 – Close to Start: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Close to Finish: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Free Parking: (2)yes (0)no
WEBSITE (5 possible points)
0 – 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)
2 – 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