Race #197 – Santa Scramble 5k – Concord, NC – 11/17/12

This is the only race I’ve never missed — five straight years now beginning in 2008 just a couple months after I began running. For every one of the first four years it was my fastest 5k race of the year. Although I haven’t been in exactly miserable shape, I knew I wasn’t in great shape and there was little chance that I could beat the 20:31 time I ran early in 2012 at the Cupid’s Cup 5k in Charlotte, and even less chance of being in the neighborhood of last year’s Santa Scramble time of 19:42. I actually thought about just skipping the Santa Scramble this year since I’m planning on running the Turkey Trot this coming Thursday, but I figured I might as well see how far I’ve fallen in the past year.

Turns out I’ve fallen quite a bit, with this year’s time of 21:14 being 1:32 slower than just a year ago and my second slowest Santa Scramble time ever, with the 2008 race being the only one slower, and I had only been running for a couple months at that time. Of course, I’m older now and that has a little bearing on my race times, but I believe my biggest problem is what it’s always been: I like to eat too much.So after the race on the way home, we stopped at IHOP and ate with some of our running friends, and I decided that it would be my last meal of decadence for the foreseeable future and I will once again hop aboard the weight loss train and see how far it takes me. The week preceding Thanksgiving is possibly not the best time to start a diet but I’ve gone too far to wait until after the holidays, and besides, most of the extra 10 pounds that I’ve struggled with this year began over the holidays last year. My official weight today after my Sunday run was 148 pounds, which is 10 pounds more than when I ran my best races at 138 pounds last fall, so I’m at a good starting place.

But enough about me. If you’re not familiar with the Santa Scramble, it’s one of fastest and funnest 5k races around, being the first entry in the Concord Christmas parade so the course is lined with thousands of people who are there mostly for the parade and not the race, but it still provides some encouragement for you to run faster. There’s also the fact that the first two miles of the race are mostly flat, followed by a huge downhill in the last mile that helps most runners come away with a personal best time.

Speaking of personal best times at the Santa Scramble yesterday, our friend Roberta (Bobbi) Villneff not only won the Masters award (40 years and older) but she is 60 years old and her 21:38 yesterday was only 16 seconds slower than the state record set in 1998! According to the age graded calculator her 21:38 was equivalent to a 30-year-old woman running a 5k in 16:34 and her age-graded score of 89.35% is absolutely amazing! (Age-graded percentage is the ratio of a world-class time for a runner’s age and gender divided by the runner’s actual time; 100% is approximately world-record level, 90% is world class, 80% is national class, and 70% is regional class.) She’s also just been running for two years and is still getting faster!!

I was a little disappointed with the awards this year. Instead of the nice Santa trophies that we received in previous years, this year’s age group awards were medals that were attached to a key chain. A key chain seems like a fairly cheap award, but after having thought about it, if the same medal had been attached to a ribbon like a normal medal they were actually pretty decent.

The T-shirts were fairly nice long-sleeved cotton shirts but you could save money by not getting one. With a lifetime supply of T-shirts already in my closet I was more than happy to take the discount.

We had quite a few participants (probably 15 or 20) from the GCR (Gaston County Runners) at the race this year. It’s great to have a local group to run with and with the speed work sessions we’ve been doing every week with the Belmont Abbey track coach some of the runners are making serious progress (unfortunately I’m not one of the ones who’s getting better). It’s something I’m really thankful for on this Thanksgiving week. This morning (Sunday) at 7:00 about a dozen of us met in the cold for our weekly long run at the greenway and I thought about how great it is to have such a great group of running friends.

Click Here for Race Results

My Stats:

Time:  21:14
Pace:  6:51
Age Group:  1 of  13
Overall:  59 of  554 (10.6%)
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  17:05
Age Graded Equivalent Score:    75:54%


Note: I made a few adjustments to the rating system as of 10/27/12 to give races a chance to score more rating points, so it can be futile to compare an older race with a newer one. Hopefully the different items on the checklist will inform you of what you need to know about a race. I’m still trying to keep it as objective as I can. The total points points possible are more than 100 but I’m trying to fine tune it so that good races end up in the 85-100 range. It’s too much trouble to go back and make changes to the old race ratings, but one of these days after all of the fine tuning is done it may be much easier to compare races with each other.

0 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 – Water Stops: (0)none  (2)normal  (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 – Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
5 – Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (2)pleasant  (5)extraordinary
2 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
5 – Finish line: (0)mediocre  (2)not bad  (5)very good  (7)spectacular!
2 – Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes (Starting line was moved back this year for correct distance)
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

3 – Cost:  (0)expensive  (1)reasonable  (3)cheap!
3 – Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

2 – Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 – Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less) (Actually 4 deep this year!)
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  (2)top 3 or better
2 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
3 – Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes
0 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes

5 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
2 – Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
2 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (3)fabulous door prizes!
0 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

3 – Food for Race Participants: (0)none  (1)some  (3)adequate  (7)a feast!
0 – Entertainment:  (0)no  (1)yes
0 – Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (1)yes

0 – Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
2 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

2 – T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 – Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice  (5)beautiful!
0 – Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
2 – Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

0 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
x – Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
x – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

0 – 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

2 – Dedicated race website (0)no  (2)yes
2 – Results or link to results posted on website:  (0)no  (2)yes

2 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (2)yes, some  (5)excellent
0 – Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes

TOTAL:  79

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