Race #338 – Downhill at Dawn Half Marathon – Black Mountain, NC – 06/04/16

2016-DAD-course1When I ran this race two years ago I considered it my best race ever — a 1:29:25 half marathon at age 62. It’s a feat that I knew I’d never duplicate and looking back at it now I’m still surprised that I was able to somehow crack 1 hour and 30 minutes in a half marathon, especially at that age. That was a 6:49 pace for 13.1 miles, and sadly over the ensuing two years I’m now having a problem running even 1 mile at a sub 7-minute pace.


Knowing there was no way to get close to the performance of two years ago, I went into the race this time with a goal of running under 1:40. Just a couple years ago I was averaging under 1:40, but last year (2015) in 16 half marathons I only managed to go under 1:40 on four occasions, with the best being 1:37:49 at The Scream! Half Marathon in July. Fortunately I didn’t have any major aches or pains and felt pretty good going into the race, 100% humidity I managed to come away with my best time of the year at 1:38:49.


The race begins at the Ridgecrest Conference Center, which is a Christian retreat just outside of Asheville. It’s a beautiful setting and most of the runners who are staying overnight stay in the accommodations offered by Ridgecrest. Hard to beat a quiet venue tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains where you just have to wake up on race morning and walk right out the door to the starting line.


With the mostly downhill course, pleasant setting, and time to visit with running friends, this has become one of my favorite racing events of the year.

Chillin' with friends at Ridgecrest on the night before the race.
Chillin’ with friends at Ridgecrest on the night before the race.


Race Number:  338


Race Name:  Downhill at Dawn Half Marathon


Location:  Black Mountain NC to Old Fort NC


Date:  June 4, 2016


Race Rating:  103





Course: First 3.5 miles is out-and-back, mostly down going out and up coming back, all on paved roads in Black Mountain. Next 4 miles or so is downhill on a dirt road leading paved road at the bottom of the mountain. Remainder of the race (5-6 miles) is paved and fairly flat with some additional downhills leading into Old Fort. Definitely a fast course with much more downhill than uphill.





Weather at Start:  Clear, 63 degrees, 94% humidity.


Race Results:



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Lots of great free photos on Flickr!
Lots of great free photos on Flickr!


My Stats:

  • Time:  1:38:49
  • Pace:  7:32
  • Age Group:  1 of  6
  • Overall:  32 of  462
  • Average Heart Rate:  164
  • Maximum Heart Race: 179
  • Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:17:09 (75.68%)



3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 – 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
4 – Course Scenery: (0-5) 1=bad and 5=fantastic
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: (0-9) 0=bad and 9=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 online within 24 hours: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Easy to find results: (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
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: (0-9)
3 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals

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

2 – T-Shirts: (0)no (2)yes
4 – Design: (1-5)
3 – Material Quality: (1-3)
0 – Discount for no-shirt option: (0)no (2)yes

5 – Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
5 – Prices: (1)expensive (3)reasonable (5)cheap
10 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (1-10)yes

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
0 – Kids Fun Run: (0)no (2)yes
x – Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  103

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