Generally I’m not a fan of nighttime races, but this one’s an exception. One of South Carolina’s top racing events of the year, the Midnight Flight (10k, 5k, and 1-mile) brings out several thousand people to run, cheer, volunteer, or just watch. It’s the fourth year in a row that we’ve participated and it’s one I always look forward to. Part of what makes it special for me is that it marks the beginning of the Running Journal Grand Prix, which is nine races throughout the Southeast. I’m hoping to run most of the Grand Prix races this year.
One of the drawbacks of traveling to a race that’s out of the Charlotte area is that there aren’t as many people there who we know, but it was good to see several of our friends from the Gaston County Runners as well as several other friends from our area who came down to get a start on the Grand Prix season. Most notably for me was Bob Nelson, who’s not only a friend but my age group competition most of the time when we race.
|Linda and me at the registration table before the race.|
The weather was warmer and more humid than I remember from past years. I noticed at the beginning of the 5k race at 10:00 p.m. the temperature on the bank clock near the starting line said it was 87 degrees. I’m not sure of the humidity level but it felt like it was 90% or higher. The 10k race started an hour later at 11:00 p.m. and it may have been a little cooler, but not much.
I made sure to wear my glasses this year because I remembered that last year without my glasses I couldn’t see my heart rate in the dark, and I always like to monitor my effort by my heart rate as I run. This race is an out-and-back course with almost a complete mile of downhill in the first mile of the course, which means that the 6th mile is almost all uphill. One thing I like about an out-and-back course is that you can see where you’re at in relation to everybody else. I tried to count the runners ahead of me and there were about 40 as I made the turnaround at the halfway point. I hadn’t looked back to see who was behind at all up until that point, and as soon as a turned I spotted Bob Nelson not far behind. Over the past several years I think Bob and I have agreed that he’s usually faster than me up hills and I’m usually faster down hills, and both of us knew that the last mile of this race is one big uphill climb. Ordinarily I try to keep my heart rate between 165 and 170 but I decided to nudge it up to 171-172 to stay ahead of Bob. I looked back at around 5 miles into the race and he was maybe 20 yards behind. After that I waited for him to pass me but he never did. When you get back to the starting line there’s a right turn that goes about a quarter mile to the finish line and it’s a pleasant gently sloping downhill finish. I wasn’t quite sure where Bob was and when I didn’t see him behind me I wondered for a minute if maybe he had passed me and I just hadn’t noticed. It turns out that he had a harder time with the final hill than I did this year and he ended up a minute or so behind me, and we finished 1st and 2nd in the 60-64 age group.
|A lot of people chose to wear their cool yellow tech T-shirts in the race!|
It was a good start for the Running Journal Grand Prix season. This year my wife Linda, who just turned 60, is competing in the Grand Prix for the first time, and in her first race she finished in 2nd place in the 60-64 age group.
For me, it was nice to win the age group, but in the Senior Grand Masters category I was 2nd to a well-known speedster from Louisiana, 65-year-old Sherman Stanford, who finished about 2 minutes ahead of me, and who will most likely mow down all of the 60- to 69-year-old runners if he decides to run all or most of the races this season. Butch Holt was also absent as he was running a marathon in Bend, Oregon this weekend but he told me recently that he’ll be back to run several of the GP races including the Rocket City Marathon, so it should make for a fun and interesting season.
Click Here for Race Results
Time: 45:09 (chip time)
Age Group: 1 of 7
Overall: 35 of 308
Age Graded Equivalent Time: 36:19
Age Graded Score: 73.94%
* 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)
2 – 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
1 – 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
2 – 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)
1 – Cost: (0)expensive (1)reasonable (3)cheap!
3 – 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)
2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
1 – Top Overall M/F: (0)none or first only (1)top 3 or better
1 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no (1)yes
1 – Grand Masters Category (50+): (0)no (1)yes
AWARDS (9 possible points)
2 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none (1)yes (2)excellent
2 – 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)
1 – Food for Race Participants: (0)none (1)some (2)adequate (5)a feast!
1 – Entertainment: (0)no (1)yes
1 – Finisher times posted after race: (0)no (1)yes
REST ROOMS (4 possible points)
2 – 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
2 – 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!
2 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (2)yes — IndependentMail.com
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
2 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no (1)yes, some (2)excellent
1 – Part of race series or Grand Prix: (0)no (1)yes