This was the 21st annual Matthews Labor Day race but the first time we’ve been here. In previous years there’s been a Labor Day race in our hometown of Gastonia, but that one’s been discontinued for some reason, leaving this as our best option. The race is part of the Matthews Alive Festival, which was much bigger than I expected with lots of food vendors, rides for kids, arts and crafts, a parade, and other fun stuff.
It was warm and muggy with no signs of autumn, but that’s the way I like it. Linda and I discussed the weather on the way over, she complaining of it still being too hot and looking forward to the cool fall races, and me lamenting the fact the it’s almost the end of summer.
This is a race that’s somewhat famous for crossing the railroad tracks, which in itself is not a big deal, but several people had mentioned to me that occasionally the train comes during the race, stopping everybody who hasn’t crossed yet until the train has passed by and they’re able to get back to the race. The possibility was even mentioned in the pre-race announcements. It didn’t happen on this day but I definitely thought about it both times I crossed the train tracks and I was glad I made it without seeing the train, but on the other hand I thought it might be kind of a fun experience and definitely a story to tell.
At the starting line I chatted with Stan Austin and he introduced me to Mo Hoffman, who I hadn’t met previously but I remembered her name as being one of the Charlotte fast chicks. She pretty much chicked everybody, except for overall winner David Willis, finishing the race 2nd overall (1st overall female), with Stan finishing in 3rd place overall.
They of course left me at the starting line. In the first mile I settled in behind Brenny Thomason and Melissa Orr, and I was still behind them at the 1-mile mark. There was a girl calling out the 1-mile split times and I was a little surprised that I was probably 10-20 seconds slower than I usually run my first mile in a 5k. I decided to ramp up my heart rate from 165 to 167, then try to run the last mile at 170 or a little higher. That worked out pretty well. Somewhere in the 2nd mile I passed Brenny and Melissa, and I spent the remainder of the race behind Jamaar Valentine, who told me after the race that it was only his second race of the year. I hadn’t met Jamaar before today’s race but we’ve had several close races in the past including a memorable one for me in last year’s Rocktoberfest Half Marathon where he passed me in the last quarter mile or so of the race and beat me by about 15 seconds. I didn’t catch him in this race either. As we approached the finish line he caught with the runner in front of him and beat him in what appeared from my vantage point (and the results) to be a photo finish.
I was happy with my finish time of 21:34 although it was 31 seconds slower than my last 5k about a month ago. I’m just glad to be under 22 minutes for now, and elated if I can get under 21 minutes. I won the 60-69 age group, finishing 1st out of 14 runners in the age group. One of the few things I didn’t like about this race is that there are 10-year age groups for runners 50 and over. For younger runners there are 5-year age groups, and that’s as it should be, but older runners should be afforded the same consideration.
The door prizes were great! I’m not sure what all they gave away but our friend Fefe won a $20 gift certificate to a local restaurant, then another friend, Steve Austin, won $35 in gift certificates to The Olive Garden. There were quite a few other winners as well but as usual I wasn’t paying much attention. The final door prize was for a free pair of shoes at TrySports (worth up to $115), won by my wife Linda, who always seems to be in the right place at the right time when they do these things.
Click Here for Race Results
Age Group: 1 of 14
Overall: 17 of 157 (10.8%)
Average Heart Rate: 163
Maximum Heart Race: 175
Age Graded Equivalent Time: 17:21
* 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
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)
0 – Cost: (0)expensive (1)reasonable (3)cheap! (Race day $30)
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)
3 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less) (partial credit… 10-years over 50)
1 – 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
1 – 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
2 – 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
0 – 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)
0 – 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
1 – Part of race series or Grand Prix: (0)no (1)yes