Race #260 – Rhododendron Run 10k – Bakersville, NC – 06/21/14

The Rhododendron Run 10k is now in its 37th year, making it one of North Carolina’s oldest road races. It’s held on the weekend of Bakersville’s Rhododendron Festival, and this year it was chosen to be the RRCA State Championship 10k road race. I’ve wanted to run this race for several years but never have because it’s not easy to get to from Gastonia. This year though, since it was the state championship, Linda and I made the trip up the mountain and spent the night in nearby Spruce Pine in one of the 50-year-old motels in the area. It was the weekend of our 35th wedding anniversary so it was a good time to get away for a couple days.

Being in the mountains the course was far from flat, but after looping around the town for the first mile the remainder of the race was an out-and-back through the countryside so whatever hills you climbed you got to go back down them on the return.


  • Beautiful setting:  It’s hard to beat running a road race through a Blue Ridge mountain community holding its biggest celebration of the year.
  • Pancake breakfast:  Mmmmm… Pancakes, bacon, coffee, orange juice.
  • RRCA State Championship: That’s why I was there, of course. I can’t win ’em all, but if I’m able to get to a state championship race I’ll be there. If I don’t win at least I’ll try to provide a little competition to whoever beats me. This time I was fortunate to win the Senior Grandmasters Championship… Yay me!
  • Door Prizes:  The awards were interspersed with drawings for various items… It definitely keeps people around for the awards!


  • One small hiccup that only affected a handful of runners (unfortunately I was one of them) was that this was the first state championship race that didn’t allow “double dipping.” In most of these races if you win the state championship it’s a separate award and you also win the age group award separately. It’s no big deal since my main goal was to win the one I actually ended up with. The age group awards were really nice plaques though and Linda received one for finishing 3rd in her age group.

Click Here for Race Results

In my last couple of State Championship races I’ve finished second,
so I was really happy to finally win this award.

My Stats:

Time:  44:12
Pace:  7:07
Age Group: 1 of  7
Overall:  18 of  132  (14.3%)
Average Heart Rate:  165
Maximum Heart Race:  174
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  34:56  (76.87%)


3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 – 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
4 – Course Scenery:  (0-5) 1=bad  and 5=fantastic
2 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
6 – Finish line: (0-9)   0=bad  and 9=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

5 – Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)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)
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  (*RRCA)
5 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes  (*RRCA)

5 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
5 – Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
5 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
0 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

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

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
2 – Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes (*RRCA State Championship)

TOTAL:  104

Friend and speedster Bobby Aswell Jr. was the Grand Masters champ (age 50-59)
and took some time after the race to pose in the rain. The weather was actually
pretty good except for a downpour for about 30 minutes that started when I was
about 5 miles into the 6.2-mile race.

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