When I decided to retire from running half marathons a couple months ago, the one thing that made me rethink my retirement was this race. I’ve registered for it every year since it began although I missed a couple times — once for an injury and another time because of the weather. I had registered for it several months ago and really didn’t want to miss it again because it’s one of my favorite races.
As much as I love it, it’s not without its drawbacks. For one, it’s one of the hardest races to get to, but in an odd way getting there is half the fun. You park at Brown Mountain Beach, which is in the middle of nowhere, then take a bus to the starting line in Jonas Ridge which is about a 30-minute bus ride. Then after you run the race you take another bus from the finish line back to Brown Mountain Beach. That may sound complicated, and it is, but it seems like every year there are new people to meet on the bus or old friends to catch up with who also run the race every year.
Of course, the big draw of the race is that you run from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the mountain. It’s not all downhill though. The first 3 miles or so are rolling hills on a paved mountain road, followed by 8 miles of mostly downhill running on a gravel service road, followed by 2 miles that are mostly flat to the finish.
It’s usually a fast race for most runners, and the first time I ran it I had a Personal Record, finishing at 1:32:11, and it remained my PR for quite a while. This year I ran into a problem quickly: I broke one of the basic rules of racing and wore a pair of new trail shoes that I purchased earlier in the week. Ouch… About halfway through the race my left foot felt like there was a rock in my shoe. I stopped three times over the final 6 or 7 miles of the race to remove my shoe and get rid of the rock. Each time I didn’t find a rock and as soon as I started running again not only did it feel like the rock was still there, but the pain increased with every additional step. Considering that an average person takes more than 1,000 steps while running a mile, it made for a rather unpleasant journey through the last half of the race.
As I ran the race I didn’t know what my foot looked like. All I knew was that it hurt and felt like there was a rock or something at the bottom of my foot that I couldn’t get rid of. I managed to keep going and finished in 1:48:24, which was good enough for 2nd place in my age group and only about a minute from 1st place, so I felt pretty good about that.
When I got on the bus to go back to Brown Mountain Beach, I got a chance to speak with Bill Johncock, who in addition to being a great runner is also a podiatrist. I told him what it felt like and told him I’d heard from other runners that when they first developed plantar fasciitis it felt like there was a rock in their shoe. I asked Bill if I could develop PF right in the middle of a race and he said it’s possible. That’s kind of a scary diagnosis since I’ve never had it in the past and I’ve known other runners who have been sidelined by PF in the past and some were never able to recover from it.
Once back at Brown Mountain Beach I ate with some friends (great catered food!) and afterwards we waited for the awards ceremony. While we waited I decided to remove my left shoe and sock to see what my foot looked like. Ouch. Turns out it wasn’t a rock at all, but a huge blister had developed on the bottom of my foot, and with all of the downhill running the top layer of skin peeled back towards my heel. I was actually relieved to find out that is what was causing the pain instead of plantar fasciitis. I should be back to normal in a week or two.
Race Number: 430
Race Name: The Scream! Half Marathon
Location: Jonas Ridge to Mortimer, North Carolina
Date: July 21, 2018
Race Rating: 81
Winners (Top 20 Overall):
Weather at Start:
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Age Group: 2 of 7
Overall: 92 of 286
Average Heart Rate: 158
Maximum Heart Rate: 169
Age Graded Percentage: 71.53%
* RACE RATING *
0 – Chip & Gun 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
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
7 – 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)
0 – 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)
5 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals
10 – 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
3 – Design: (1-5)
2 – Material Quality: (1-3)
0 – Discount for no-shirt option: (0)no (2)yes
0 – Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
x – Prices: (1)expensive (3)reasonable (5)cheap
0 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (1-10)yes
0 – 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)