Race #258 – Downhill at Dawn Half Marathon – Black Mountain to Old Fort, NC – 06/07/14

This was my 65th half marathon, and my fastest half marathon ever. It was my first half under the seemingly unattainable (for me) hour and thirty minutes. My old PR (Personal Record) of 1:31:57 had stood since the autumn of 2011, when I had set all of my race PR’s and did my best running ever. In 2011 I was 59 years old, and that was my best year of running since I began at age 56. Now at age 62 I seem to be undergoing a resurgence for some reason, at least for now. It may end in a week or two but it’ll be interesting to see how things go over the next few months. I’m hoping it continues for a while.

Running buddy Stu Stepp from Salisbury finished just ahead of me.
He’s gotten way faster than me over the past year so I was happy
just to be able to almost keep up with him.

Sure, I had the help of about 6 miles of downhill running so it wouldn’t hold up if there was some kind of official record involved, but for me it’s a Personal Record that I’ll proudly proclaim, so people should probably try to avoid me over the next month or two while I get over my exuberance.


  • Hard to beat 6 miles of downhill for a fast finish time. That still left another 7 miles or so of either flat or uphill, but it’s still the fastest race that most of us will ever run.
  • Plenty of rooms were available at the Ridgecrest Conference Center and prices were reasonable. The race started only about 50 yards from the room where we stayed. It wasn’t fancy (no TVs in any of the rooms, for example) but it was okay and very convenient.
  • The temperatures tend to be a little cooler up in the mountains, and that helps when you run a half marathon in June.
  • In addition to a professional photographer with reasonable prices, there were also hundreds of photos that are available for free on Facebook.


  • Point-to Point course, with the finish line about 10 miles away from the starting line. The shuttle bus was fine but it’s always nice if you can just hop in your car and leave after the race where the start and finish are at the same spot.
  • There was more unpaved road to run on than I expected (maybe 3-5 miles?). It wasn’t a huge problem but I’m a road runner and prefer pavement.
  • Underwhelming finish line. Plenty of people besides me had an all-time PR in this race. A more impressive finish line would have had me (and probably others) wanting to buy the finish line photo of my memorable finish.

Results and Photos:

This was one of the free post-race pics available on Facebook.

My Stats:

Time: 1:29:25
Pace:  6:49
Age Group: 1 of  8
Overall: 20 of  453
Average Heart Rate: (Heart monitor wasn’t working correctly)
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:10:59 (83.42% — My highest percentage ever!)


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
0 – 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
0 – 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)
0 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
3 – Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
2 – 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

2 – 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

5 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
4 – 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
2 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

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

5 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
2 – 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
0 – 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:  82

Some of the Gaston County Runners after the race.

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