Race #203 – Race for the Grasshopper 5k – Gaffney, SC – 01/12/13

For the past couple years on this date I had run the half marathon in Travelers Rest, South Carolina, but this year since I’ve decided to cut back on the half marathons I opted instead for the Race for the Grasshopper, a well established 5k (I think it was the 30th year) held at the Cowpens National Battlefield, which is not too far from Gaffney.

What struck me more than anything about this race was how many great runners there were who were over 50 years old. The Upstate of South Carolina has a reputation of having some amazing runners and a bunch of them were there. I did manage to end up in 1st place in the 60-64 age group at 21:23 (my best 5k time since last July), but only because 64-year-old David Spark came in 2nd in the Grand Masters with a time of 20:44 and I was bumped up.

Even more remarkable than that were the times of 53-year-old Susi Smith (20:20), 57-year-old Dian Ford (20:33), and 72-year-old George Luke (21:17). It’s not terribly surprising since all three of those runners hold multiple age group state records. I had read about all of them but it was the first time I had seen any of them and it was kind of inspiring and humbling all at the same time. I could see the girls for about half the race until they were finally out of sight. George passed me about halfway through and I stayed just a few seconds behind him for the rest of the race. I wasn’t sure it was him but I thought it might be although he definitely doesn’t look 72 years old.

Also at about the 2-mile mark I caught up with Mitchell Rippy, a friend from Shelby who recently turned 50 and whom I’ve never beaten, and 10-year-old Gunner Hogston, who’s practically famous as being one of the fastest 10-year-old runners in North Carolina. I passed them both with about a mile left in the race and just tried to hang on. I was tempted to look back but I figured that wouldn’t really help anything. I crossed the finish line with Gunner 6 seconds behind me and Mitchell 7 seconds behind him.

By the way, the weather was amazing for the middle of January. It was foggy and the temperature was in the mid 50s early, but by race time (10:00 a.m.) the fog was starting to lift and the sun was trying to break through and the temperature seemed to be around 60 or maybe a little higher, which is perfect for me.

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My Stats:

Time:  21:23
Pace:  6:53
Age Group:  1 of  12
Overall:  32 of  245
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  17:12 (75.01%)


3 – 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
2 – Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (2)pleasant  (5)extraordinary
1 – 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)not bad  (5)very good  (7)spectacular!
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

1 – Cost:  (0)expensive  (1)reasonable  (3)cheap!
0 – 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)
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)
2 – 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

2 – 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

7 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
0 – Entertainment:  (0)no  (1)yes
1 – Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (1)yes

2 – Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
0 – 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!
2 – Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 – Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

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

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

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

0 – 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:  78

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