Race #257 – Charity Chase Half Marathon – Hickory, NC – 06/01/14

This week I revisited the place I call my hometown even though I left it more than half a lifetime ago. It was my fifth straight year of running this race and every time it’s been one of my favorite races of the year. The course passes the site where I lived fifty years ago, now just an empty lot full of memories. It passes my old high school, travels past the houses of old friends, and runs along roads where I still remember every curve.

Every year it reminds me of how fortunate I am to still be doing what I love, and it amazes me that I’m able to run 13 miles in relative comfort, which is something that I would have thought to be nearly impossible when I was a teenager if running that distance ever even crossed my mind.

So no doubt I’m biased in my appreciation of this race, but the Charity Chase should appeal to all half marathoners whether or not they’ve ever stepped foot in the City of Hickory before race day. It’s one of finest races you’ll find anywhere.

This year was my fastest of the five times I’ve run the race, finishing 26th overall at a time of 1:36:43. Because of the hills it’s not a course where you’ll run your fastest times, but the cooler weather this year (about 59 degrees at the start) helped.

GCR friends after the race.


  • Best water stops of any race. Local nonprofits compete to see who can do it best and runners can vote for their favorite.
  • Big enough, but not so big that you get lost in the crowd either during or after the race (418 finishers this year).
  • Great crowd support.
  • Nice tech T-shirts.
  • Excellent awards ceremony.
  • Great downtown location for pre- and post-race activities.
  • Plenty of free parking nearby.
  • Live streaming video online of race start and finish.
  • Great pro photography with very affordable pricing and pics published the same day of the race.
  • Post-race pizza!


  • There are some killer hills. That comes with the territory when you’re in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains so it’s not unexpected, but it discourages some people from running this race.
  • No real complaints… Great race!

Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Race Photos

Thanks to Bobby Aswell for this finish line photo!

My Stats:

Time:  1:36:43
Pace:  7:23
Age Group:  1 of  6
Overall:  26 of  418 (6.2%)
Average Heart Rate:  165
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:16:47 (77.12%)


3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
5 – 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
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
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no

2 – Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)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)
0 – 70+ group (1)
2 – Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
0 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (2)yes
0 – 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
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
5 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

9 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
7 – Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
2 – Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

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

5 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
5 – Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 – 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

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:  97

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