Always a lot of fun, the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon has become the #1 racing event of the year for my running group, the Gaston County Runners. Counting families of runners we probably had 40 or so in attendance this year and it’s always great to get a bunch of friends together away from home. We did a couple of group runs together aside from the race, and of course we ate out a lot, no doubt consuming many more calories than we expended with our running. Still it was fun, and those of us who have some self-control (not me) could get back to our sensible diets when we returned home.
Once again the weather was beautiful. It was cool at the start but warmed up nicely by the time we hit the boardwalk for the finish line at what used to be The Pavilion, which was for decades the center of activity for Myrtle Beach.
I carpooled with some friends to the starting line on Sunday morning and we arrived a little over an hour from the start so we’d have time to get a good parking spot and hit the porta potties before the main part of the crowd arrived. It was cool enough that we all returned to the car to warm up until about 15 minutes before the starting gun.
As I went up near the front of the starting line I greeted 61-year-old Robbie McLendon, a great guy and fantastic runner from Hartsville, South Carolina, who is known all over South Carolina for his running prowess. Robbie hasn’t missed a day of running in almost 39,000 days and over that time has averaged almost 9 miles a day. I’ll let you do the math, but that’s some phenomenal numbers. As Robbie and I were talking, up came 60-year-old Jimmy Arnold from Rockingham, North Carolina, who is possibly North Carolina’s most outstanding runner over 60 years old. We all shook hands and Jimmy told me this would be his fifth half marathon of the year, and in two of the first four he was under 1:30:00. I wasn’t surprised since I’ve been well aware of his running accomplishments. With these two running powerhouses in the race I figured placing in the top 3 of the 60-64 age group might be a longshot, especially since I was 2nd last year and was beaten by somebody else. I have to keep reminding myself that the most important thing is to do as well as I can, whether or not I place, but still it’s nice to get one of the age group awards so it’s always something I shoot for.
As the race started, Jimmy took off like a rabbit and was quickly out of reach. I saw Robbie in the first mile and I thought I passed him somewhere in the first or second mile but I wasn’t actually sure it was him, so I didn’t know if I was actually ahead of or behind him. None of that really mattered though, as I was just trying to run the best race I could at the time. A few miles into the race I caught up with friends Amy Edelstein and Mitchell Rippy, who were running together. I grunted a greeting as best I could and ran along for a couple minutes, then took off a little ahead of them. Several minutes later Amy caught up with me and said Mitchell was having some issues and she went ahead of him, and she asked if I minded her running along with me. I’d love to be able to run with Amy, but truth be told, she’s in a different league than me, and pacing with me would be a disaster for almost anyone, especially a good runner. My racing technique is a patchwork of run pretty fast, then jog a while, then walk a bit, then whatever. I tend to mix it up like that throughout races, which would drive most people bonkers, but it seems to work for me, especially now that I’m older and need to take frequent breaks in races. Amy ran along for a few minutes until I was ready to walk again, and I told her she should take off and keep up her good pace, which she did.
As we entered Ocean Boulevard for the last 5 miles of the race I thought about what a great course this is. Of the many half marathons I’ve run I think this 5-mile stretch is my favorite. It’s flat and along the ocean, with palm trees and big hotels and pockets of cheering spectators scattered along the way to keep you pumped up. There’s a big crowd lining the sidewalk and cheering as you approach the Sky Wheel and Pavilion area. There’s still a mile to run as you continue on down Ocean Boulevard for another half mile then get on the new boardwalk for the curvy trip back up another half mile to the finish. Some runners don’t like the wavy boardwalk finish but it’s my favorite part of the race, and if you run the tangents it’s really not too bad, especially knowing that the end is in sight.
I finished in 1:38:46, which is 2 minutes slower than I ran here last year (1:36:44) but my fastest half marathon of the ten I’ve run since then, and 3 seconds faster than Downhill at Dawn, which was my fastest thus far in 2016. For the 60-64 age group, Jimmy smoked it and almost broke 1:30:00 again, but I did manage to come in 2nd and finish a couple minutes ahead of Robbie, who was 3rd. It was an honor to be with those two at the top of the age group, and I’m relieved to know that next year I’ll graduate to the 65-69 age group. No doubt there will be tough competition there as well, and of course I’ll be a year older and slower so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens then.
Race Number: 356
Race Name: Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon
Location: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Date: October 23, 2016
Race Rating: 111
Winners (Overall Top 20):
Winners (60-64 Age Group Top 20):
Course: Flat and fast point-to-point course. The last 5 miles along Ocean Boulevard and the boardwalk is my favorite 5-mile stretch in any race.
- Gain: 25 feet
- Loss: 37 feet
Weather at Start: Sunny, 48 degrees, 57% humidity, 7 mph NNW winds.
- Time: 1:38:46
- Pace: 7:33
- Age Group: 2 of 43
- Overall: 65 of 1,974
- Age Graded Equivalent Time: 1:17:45 (75.09%)
* RACE RATING *
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
5 – 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
9 – 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
0 – 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
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
5 – Age Group Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0-9)
5 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals
7 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
9 – 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
1 – Prices: (1)expensive (3)reasonable (5)cheap
3 – 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
2 – 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
2 – Kids Fun Run: (0)no (2)yes
0 – Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)