Race #359 – ChristmasTown 5k – McAdenville, NC – 11/26/16

000-christmastown5kNow in its fourth year, the ChristmasTown 5k in McAdenville has become one of the region’s top wintertime destination 5k races. The famous Christmas lights of McAdenville don’t officially come on until December 1st, but for this evening race runners and spectators are given a sneak peak as the streets are closed down and the millions of lights are turned on just for this event.

 

As you would expect, the Christmas lights provide plenty of illumination, but there are some areas where it’s hard to see the street so I carried a small flashlight that I used a few times along the way. To offset the beauty of the lights is the agony of the hills, and there are plenty of them. Except for crossing the bridge there doesn’t seem to be a flat spot in the whole town, so you’re either going up or down the entire way, or so it seemed to me.

 

I struggled to get up the hills, which is nothing new, but I partly made up for it by being a little faster on the downhills. As always, the best part of the race is when it’s over, and most of the runners gathered in the YMCA gymnasium for the awards and costume contest.

 

There was very little in the way of free post-race food (I was told bananas and water but I didn’t go looking for it). There were some people selling food so that helped a little, but it’s disappointing for a race (especially one of this magnitude) to not supply something decent. Hot chocolate and some decent free post-race treats would be nice.

2016-christmastown-5k-start

Race Number:  359

Race Name:  ChristmasTown 5k

Location: McAdenville, North Carolina

Date: November 26, 2016

Race Rating:  79

Winners:

2016-christmastown-5k-gcr-top25
Course:  Beautiful lights and lots of volunteers along the way, but at least 4 big hills as you wind along the streets of McAdenville. The uphill finish is torture.

2016-christmastown-5k-map
Elevation:

  • Gain:  243 feet (seemed like a lot more!)
  • Loss:  234 feet

Weather at Start:  Clear, 54 degrees, 26% humidity, 3 mph N wind.

 

Race Results:

My Stats:

  • Time:  23:36
  • Pace:  7:37
  • Age Group:  2 of 20
  • Overall:  49 of 1013
  • Age Graded Equivalent Time:  18:33 (69.99%)

 

2016-christmastown-5k-gcr-group

 

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 – 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
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
7 – 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

REGISTRATION
2 – Cost: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
0 – Race Day Registration: (0)no (3)yes

RESULTS
2 – Posted online within 24 hours: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Easy to find results: (0)no (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
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)
0 – 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

AWARDS
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)
0 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals

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

REST ROOMS
2 – Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
1 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful

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

PHOTOGRAPHY
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

PARKING
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

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

TOTAL:   79

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Race #317 – ChristmasTown 5k – McAdenville NC – 11/28/15

ChristmasTown5KIn just its third year, the ChristmasTown 5k in McAdenville has become one of the area’s most popular races. For the past 60 years the tiny town of McAdenville (population around 600) has been known as Christmas Town USA to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come each holiday season to view one of the most amazing traditional Christmas light displays in the country. The Christmas lights officially begin on December 1st, but they’re lit up especially for this race to give runners and spectators a jump on the Christmas season.

 

 

The race is fun, but I ran into problems early on when my watch conked out in the first half mile and I wasn’t able to monitor my heart rate. That’s the way I run and I don’t do nearly as well if I have to guess. I took a short walk break on every hill, which probably slowed me down some, but I was still pretty happy with my time of 22:35.

2015-christmastown-landon-andrew
Speedy high school runners Landon Maxwell and Andrew Inman started out fast and finished 2nd and 3rd overall.

What’s Great:

  • The Christmas lights, of course!
  • Free professional quality race photos from Matthew Gregory, who always does a great job.
  • Lots of runners with the Christmas spirit!
  • Beautiful weather this year (as opposed to freezing last year).
  • Part of the local YMCA race series.
  • Post race entertainment and awards in the gymnasium of the YMCA.

What’s Not So Great:

  • More hills than any 5k I know of other than those races that pride themselves in being all uphill (e.g. The Burn, The Bear, etc.).
  • Some dark spots along the way. The Christmas lights are great but they really don’t provide light for the street itself. It can be a little scary just hoping that you’re not about to step in a pothole although I didn’t run into any problems and didn’t see anybody else do a face plant.
  • Course changed this year to end up near the YMCA. Last year the race ended with a nice downhill of about a quarter mile. This year the finish was uphill for more than a quarter mile.
  • Post-race food was dismal and included only some water, popcorn, and bananas. I saw coffee and hot chocolate and thought that would be a nice touch until I was informed that coffee was $2 a cup and hot chocolate $3 a cup. Uh… No thanks.

 

Race Number:  317

 

Race Name:  ChristmasTown 5k

 

Location:  McAdenville, North Carolina

 

Date:  November 28, 2015

 

Race Rating:  96

 

Winners:

  • M: Daniel Belton (Age 17) – 17:27
  • F:  Sophia Raspanti (Age 14) – 20:13

 

Course:  Almost entirely hills except for the bridge. Fortunately there are plenty of downhills in addition to uphills, but it’s still enough to slow most of us down.

Weather at Start:  Seasonably warm, 55-60 degrees (no Garmin data… watch died)

 

Race Results:

 

Click Here for Race Photos from Matthew Gregory on Flickr (152 photos)

 

My Stats:

2015-christmastown-richard-running
Thanks to Matthew Gregory for his photos… great as always!

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
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
0 – 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

REGISTRATION
2 – Cost: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
0 – Race Day Registration: (0)no (3)yes

RESULTS
2 – Posted online within 24 hours: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Easy to find results: (0)no (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
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)
0 – 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

AWARDS
5 – 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)
0 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals

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

REST ROOMS
2 – Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
1 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
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

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

PARKING
1 – Close to Start: (2)yes (0)no  (*About a quarter mile away from start/finish)
1 – Close to Finish: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Free Parking: (2)yes (0)no

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

TOTAL:  96

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Race #280 – ChristmasTown 5k – McAdenville, NC – 11/29/14

My friend and age group competitor Ralph Shore
is a regular year-round at road races, but he’s
especially noticeable in the Christmas races!

In only its second year the ChristmasTown 5k in McAdenville has become one of Gaston County’s biggest races, with more than 1,100 registered runners and 900+ finishers. Each December more than 600,000 visitors come to see the hundreds of thousands Christmas lights in this small town just outside of Charlotte. This tradition that began in 1956 has made McAdenville one of the most visited Christmas destinations in the country.

The lights don’t officially come on until December 1st, but this year on November 29th the streets were closed to traffic and the lights were turned on just for this race. It started and finished at a small park just off Main Street. Because of the number of runners and the fairly small street where the start/finish line was located, the runners were separated into five different waves of about 200 runners with the waves starting 2 minutes apart.

While the intentions were good, the wave start became a fairly major problem. Runners were pre-assigned a wave but many of them paid no attention to starting in the assigned wave. If there had been a starting mat to record a beginning time then it might have worked, but without that the final results were a mess (although they worked hard after the race and straightened things out for the most part). I’m hoping that in the future they’ll just start everybody at the same time. Posting pace times prominently with the fastest runners up front would help and would simplify the process. There would still be a few people sneaking ahead of where they actually should be but it works in a lot of bigger races. The Southpark Turkey Trot in Charlotte has more than 5,000 runners every year with no more than a suggestion that the faster runners should line up first. It’s a mess for sure and way more crowded at the starting line that I prefer, but things get sorted out pretty quickly once the race starts.

The race course for the ChristmasTown 5k winds through the major streets where the Christmas lights are located. It’s a beautiful run, of course, but I spent more time trying to make sure I didn’t trip instead of enjoying the lights since it was hard for me to see the road much of the time. There weren’t any terribly dark areas and there were several extra spotlights used in areas where it was more difficult to see the street.

From the main intersection in McAdenville the race first goes up one big hill, off to a side street (well lit with tons of Christmas decorations) then back and up the remainder of the hill. After coming back down, the course then goes up the other big hill until the final turnaround for the downhill finish. The downhill finish was great but I had a miserable time with both hills, taking a walk break on both of them. I ended up 18th overall out of 906 finishers, just 1 second ahead of the first female finisher. I wasn’t thrilled with my time of 22:34 but it seemed like everybody I talked to was about a minute off their normal 5k time because of the two huge hills, so maybe I’ll do a little better in a flatter race. My times have definitely been off lately and I’m not sure how much of it is due to my diet, training, and that type of factors as opposed to the fact that I’m just getting older and slower. I hope it’s more a matter of diet and training, which I can control somewhat. There’s not much I can do about getting older.

Click Here for Overall Race Results

Click Here for Age Group Award Results

Click Here for FREE Race Photos from Matthew Gregory

My Stats:

Time:  22:34
Pace:  7:16
Age Group:  1 of  16
Overall:  18 of  906 (2%)
Average Heart Rate:  168
Maximum Heart Race:  174
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  17:50 (72.34%)

Once again Matthew Gregory provided lots of free high quality photos of this race on his Flickr page.
This was the only one of me and I’m not even the main character in the photo, but there were great shots
of many of the other runners in the race. Free photos, especially good ones, are a huge deal since race
photos tend to be so expensive. Kudos to Matthew Gregory and folks at the Walk and Run Belmont store!

***************
* RACE RATING *
***************

RACE COURSE
3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 – 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
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
7 – 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

REGISTRATION
0 – Cost:  (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 – Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS
2 – Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 – Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
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

AWARDS
5 – 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!
0 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
4 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
7 – Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
2 – Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (2)yes

REST ROOMS
2 – Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
0 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

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

PHOTOGRAPHY
0 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
5 – Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap! (*Free!)
10 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5-10)lots of free pics!

PARKING
2 – Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
0 – Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no (*Some took bus from high school)
2 – Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

OTHER
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
2 – Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes (*Gaston County YMCA)
0 – Kids Fun Run: (0)no   (2)yes
x – Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  97

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