Race #401 – Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon – Myrtle Beach SC – 10/21/17

Of all the races I return to year after year, this one has become my favorite. Maybe I’ll change my mind sometime in the future, but for now it’s the one I look forward to more than any other. We’ve been blessed with great weather every year and this year was the best yet, with afternoon temperatures hovering around 80 degrees, making it a great time to squeeze a little bit of extra summertime out of the beach.

There are a lot of special things about this race. The last 5 miles down Ocean Boulevard provides my all-time favorite race finish. There are always a lot of friends at the race, both from my local running club (it’s our big race of the year) and also runners from elsewhere that I just see at these regional races that draw runners from a wider area.

It’s unfortunate that the race is shrinking in size though. This year there were only 1,513 half marathon finishers compared to 3,125 in 2014. I don’t believe it’s due to the race itself, which is always managed beautifully, but because there is so much competition from other races. There are so many races each weekend that runners have to choose among several, and it’s almost always easier and cheaper to stay close to home. Nevertheless, it’s still my favorite and I hope it’ll continue for many years.

This was my sixth straight year of placing in the top 3 in my age group for this race, so I’m feeling a little pressure to keep the streak going next year, but I’m looking forward to it. My time of 1:39:08 this year was my second fastest half marathon since the same race last year, and the only one I’ve run faster since then was the Revel Mt. Charleston Half Marathon in Las Vegas that featured a little over 2,000 feet of elevation loss!

Race Number:  401

Race Name:  Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon

Location:  Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Date:  October 21, 2017

Race Rating:  108

Winners (Top 5 Overall):

My Age Group (65-69):

Course:  Starts at the Coastal Grand Mall and travels up Grissom Parkway. After a short run on the greenway of about a mile course goes to Ocean Boulevard for final 5 miles. Final stretch is along the boardwalk for about a half mile, ending at the site of the old Myrtle Beach Pavilion. Awards and post-race activities are held a block up at Plyler Park. Only 7 turns in entire race and very little elevation change throughout the course.

Elevation:

Weather at Start: Partly cloudy, 64 degrees, 5 mph NE wind, 94% humidity.

Hard to beat the 5-mile stretch along Ocean Boulevard!

Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Race Photos

Click Here for Race Website

 

My Stats:

Time:  1:39:08
Pace:  7:35
Age Group:  1 of 17
Overall:  48 of 1,513
Average Heart Rate:  163
Maximum Heart Race: 173
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:17:16 (75.55%)

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

RACE COURSE
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

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)
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

AWARDS
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

POST RACE
6 – 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
0 – 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
1 – Prices: (1)expensive (3)reasonable (5)cheap
0 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (1-10)yes

PARKING
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

OTHER
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
x – Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  108

One of the highlights of the weekend is our group run on the morning following the race along the boardwalk!
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Race #356 – Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon – Myrtle Beach, SC – 10/23/16

2016-mb-mini-logo

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.

Robbie McLendon, Richard Hefner, Jimmy Arnold
Robbie McLendon, Richard Hefner, Jimmy Arnold

 

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):

2016-mb-mini-overall-top-20

 

Winners (60-64 Age Group Top 20):

2016-mb-mini-ag-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.

2016-mb-mini-map

Elevation:

  • Gain:  25 feet
  • Loss:  37 feet

 

Weather at Start:  Sunny, 48 degrees, 57% humidity, 7 mph NNW winds.

 

Click Here for Race Results

 

Click Here for Official Race Photos

 

Click Here for Some Free Photos on Facebook

 

Click Here for Race Website

 

My Stats:

 

 

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

RACE COURSE
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

REGISTRATION
0 – 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)
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

AWARDS
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

POST RACE
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

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

There are lots of good professional photos along the course and at the finish line, but they're not cheap.
There are lots of good professional photos along the course and at the finish line, but they’re not cheap.

PHOTOGRAPHY
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

PARKING
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

OTHER
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)

TOTAL:  111

 

Great time with the GCR on Monday morning with a recovery run along the boardwalk.
Great time with the GCR on Monday morning with a recovery run along the boardwalk.
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Race #312 – Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon – Myrtle Beach, SC – 10/18/15

2015-mb-mini-STARTThis race has become a highlight of my fall running season. Over the past few years it has been the favorite destination race for my running group, the Gaston County Runners, with its flat course and beautiful run along Ocean Boulevard for the last 5 miles of the race, ending with a run up the boardwalk with the finish line at the site of the old Pavilion.

 

It was a little colder this year but still pleasant enough for late October. I wore gloves, tights, and had my ears covered with 180s throughout the race with temperatures warming only from the low 40s to high 40s. That was comfortable for me but of course resulted in the usual jokes about me not being able to handle the cold (which is true).

 

At last week’s half marathon my time was 1:41:19, and my goal for this race was to go under 1:40:00, which has been a rare occurrence for me this year. I felt pretty good as I warmed up during the first few miles, and as much as I dislike colder weather it probably helps my running times and it was a pleasant surprise to see that I was averaging closer to 7:20 per mile as opposed to the 7:40 that I’ve been running in half marathons. I recently bought a new running watch — Garmin Forerunner 225 — and it’s been a big help. In the past I’ve only monitored my heart rate, giving no thought to my pace, but I set my main “racing screen” (for lack of a better term) up to show current heart rate in the middle, current mile pace on top, and overall pace on the bottom. That allows me to consider both my heart rate and pace at once. I’m sure that’s just common sense to most people but it took me a while to figure out it would help me.

 

Back in April my running friend Danny McBee passed away unexpectedly. This was one of Danny’s favorite races, so this year many of his family members came down to watch one of Danny’s nephews, Robert McBee, run in honor of Danny. Although Robert had been a runner when he was younger, it had been many years since the now 48-year-old had run a half marathon. I spoke to him the night before the race and he told me that when he began training a few months ago he just hoped to finish in under 2 hours. When training went well he revised his goal to sub 1:50, and shortly before the race he decided he’d shoot for a time under 1:40. He jokingly said he’d try to keep up with me. I was impressed with the sub 1:40 goal and told him that if that was the case I’d be pretty far behind him since I’ve had a hard time breaking 1:40 this year.

 

As the race progressed I could see Robert out ahead of me occasionally, and about 2 miles from the finish on Ocean Boulevard I realized that there was no one between him and me. I was gaining gradually but not enough to catch him without putting some extra effort into it. About 1.5 miles from the finish I was still probably 20-30 yards behind him so I turned it up a notch and soon caught him. We talked a little and he thanked me for pushing him although I doubted he really needed me. We talked some about Danny and how he’d be proud to see us running along together near the finish line. We didn’t really talk about finishing together but I think it was understood. We just settled into what was a comfortably fast pace for both of us and glided together through the last mile and a half, and as we crossed the finish line we held hands and raised them high in honor of Danny. It was one of those special race memories that will always be remembered. It was also faster than either of us expected, with him easily beating his goal of 1:40 and me finishing my fastest half marathon of the year.

2015-mb-mini-me-robert-wheel

 

2015-mb-mini-me-and-robert-boardwalk

As I’ve come to expect, this race was again one of my favorite races of the year, with the only downside being the lack of professional photography. In the past there have been photographers along the course, along the boardwalk, and at the finish line. Sadly, this year the professional race photographers who had been working the race pulled out, reportedly because not enough people bought photos. On the bright side, the race organizers did manage to provide 300 or so free photos on their Facebook page, which included a couple of me, so I’m happy, but with 4,000+ runners in the two races I’m sure there were some disappointed runners who ended up with no photos at all. Would love to see about 10 times the number of free photos next year that would include the great majority of runners. Some races are doing that now and it’s a great perk for runners as well as a good selling point for the race.

 

Race Number:  312

 

Race Name:  Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon

 

Location:  Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

 

Date:  October 18, 2015

 

Race Rating:  97

2015-mb-mini-WINNER

Winners:

  • M:  Brett Morley (Age 23) (Greenville, SC) — 1:09:52
  • F:  Alyssa Bloomquist (Age 25)(Greenville, SC) — 1:18:16

2015-mb-mini-COURSE-MAP

Course:  The race begins at the Coastal Grand Mall, which provides plenty of parking. It continues up Grissom Parkway, then a short stretch on the greenway, with the last stretch of more than 5 miles down Ocean Boulevard and back up the boardwalk to the site of the old Myrtle Beach Pavilion, with the after-party a block away at Plyler Park. It’s one of my favorite courses in more than 300 races, and those last 5 miles are spectacular. The entire course is almost completely flat with the exception of a small ramp leading to the greenway entrance. One small drawback of the point-to-point course is that the finish line is several miles from the starting line, but free bus transportation is provided back to the starting line with buses leaving every few minutes.

2015-myrtle-beach-mini-erica-ildiko
My daughter-in-law Erica and her friend Ildiko did a great job in their first Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon.

Elevation:

  • Gain:  19 feet
  • Loss:  26 feet
  • Minimum Elevation:  7 feet
  • Maximum Elevation:  36 feet

Weather at Start:  46 degrees, 53% humidity, winds NNE at 10 mph (felt like 42 degrees)

 

Click Here for Race Results

 

Click Here for Race Website

 

Click Here for Free Photos on Facebook

 

My Stats:

Time:  1:36:44
Pace:  7:22
Age Group:  2 of  37
Overall:  72 of  2581
Average Heart Rate: 161
Maximum Heart Race: 169
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:16:04  (77.85%)

2015-myrtle-beach-mini-richard-award
I finished 2nd in the 60-64 age group.

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

RACE COURSE
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

REGISTRATION
0 – 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)
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

AWARDS
2 – 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)no (2)yes (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
5 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
6 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
9 – Entertainment: (0)no (1-9)yes
0 – 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
1 – 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
x – Prices: (1)expensive (3)reasonable (5)cheap
5 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (1-10)yes

PARKING
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

OTHER
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)

TOTAL:  97

 

2015-myrtle-beach-mini-grandkids
My grandkids turned the construction barriers into a jungle gym.
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Race #274 – Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon – Myrtle Beach, SC – 10/19/14

For my running group, the Gaston County Runners (GCR), this has become our biggest event of the year. It was the fifth year of the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon and I’ve run four of them. I’m not sure about the year I didn’t run, but for all four years that I’ve been there the weather has been perfect. The last five miles or so is straight down Ocean Boulevard, with a turn onto the new boardwalk to the finish line at the site of the old Myrtle Beach Pavilion. It’s one of the best finishes of any race I’ve been a part of and I look forward to it every year.

This is a pretty big race with more than 3,000 finishers in the half marathon, and this year the GCR had seven runners who finished in the top 3 in their respective age groups. For the third straight year I managed to win the 60-64 age group, this year with a time of 1:35:44. I’m happy with that time although it was on a flat course and was about 30 seconds slower than last week’s Hokie Half Marathon, which had more hills, but maybe at 62 I’m reaching an age that I need more than a week to recover from a half marathon. It’s Wednesday as I write this and I gotta admit I’m still pretty sore. In an episode of temporary insanity I considered jumping in to a full marathon this weekend (Peak to Creek) without any marathon training, but today’s the last day to register and I’m still sore enough that I think I’ll scale back the enthusiasm and maybe run a 5k instead.

Proud of the Gaston County Runners! We had 7 runners who placed in their age group!

Pros:

  • Beautiful course — especially the last 5 miles along Ocean Boulevard and the boardwalk.
  • Spectacular finish line!
  • Good post-race food.
  • Huge post-race party with talented live band.
  • Nice awards and awards ceremony.
  • Cool-looking tech T-shirt for this year’s race.
  • Lots of free photos can be found online for this race, both on the race’s Facebook page and elsewhere.
  • Cheap off-season rates at Myrtle Beach hotels!

Cons:

  • Race results not posted after the race so you had to wait around to see if you placed in your age group. In some ways that’s more of a “pro” than a “con” since it creates a sense of anticipation for those who may have placed, although it’s a letdown for those who didn’t place. I should add that the results are online immediately if you go to the race website.
  • The logistics are a little messy, with the expo being in one location, the race start at a completely different location, and the finish at yet another location, all several miles apart. It makes sense once you get used to it (it doesn’t bother me) but it could be a headache if you’re there for the first time.
  • The professional photographers (Sport Photo) do a good job, but the photos are way too expensive — 40 bucks for a single digital download or $14 for a standard 4×6 photo. Of course you can get them a little cheaper if you order a lot of pics, but if you just want one photo it’ll really cost you. 
The professional photos were expensive, so I was thankful to have friends who took lots of pics!

Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Official Race Photos (Sport Photo)

Click Here for Race Website

My Stats:

Time:  1:35:44
Pace:  7:18
Age Group: 1 of  50
Overall:  55 of  3125 (1.8%)
Average Heart Rate:  167
Maximum Heart Race:  173
Age Graded Equivalent Time: 1:16:00 (77.91%)

Although I failed to notify my face, I was happy to win my age group for the third year in a row!

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

RACE COURSE
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

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

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

REST ROOMS
1 – 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
2 – 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
5 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
0 – Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
5 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
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

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
0 – Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes
2 – Kids Fun Run: (0)no   (2)yes (previous day)
x – Miscellaneous not covered above: (-10 to +10)

TOTAL:  103

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Race #231 – Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon – Myrtle Beach, SC – 10/20/13

Just a week after a mediocre showing at the Rocktoberfest Half Marathon in Charlotte I decided to do a better job of keeping my mind in the race at Myrtle Beach, and it paid off. No doubt the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon is a flatter and faster half marathon than Rocktoberfest, but cutting more than 5 minutes off my time from the previous week had more to do with my state of mind than the flatness of the course. Oh, and it probably helped that I’ve lost a few pounds since getting back on the Weight Watchers wagon a couple weeks ago. I know I’m not exactly obese, but I did my best running in the fall of 2011 when I weighed 138 pounds. Before getting back on Weight Watchers recently I had gained some weight and was back up to 153 pounds, so I’d really like to knock off 10 or 15 pounds and get back to my ideal running weight. My time of 1:34:24 made this my fastest half marathon of ten that I have run this year and I finished in the top 3% overall (76th out of 2,759 runners).

It began raining as we gathered for the race and Linda and I went back to the car, hoping the rain would stop before the race. It did, but the threat of rain kept me from wearing my non-waterproof video glasses for the race, which is a shame since it’s one of my favorite courses, especially the final 5 miles, which runs all the way down Ocean Boulevard to the pier and then back up the new boardwalk to the site of the old Pavilion.

This was the third time I’ve run this race out of the four years it has been held, and each year it gets better. It’s always well organized, the shirts are great, and the finishers medal is one of the biggest and best you’ll get at any race.

As you can see on my mile split times, my slowest mile was 7:24, and I was really happy with my overall pace of 7:13. I was surprised that my average heart rate in the 13th mile was 175, but I felt okay so I stuck with it.

The printout from the race results website calculated my age grade at 76.84%, but the Runners World age grade calculator said it was 78.27% for an equivalent time of 1:15:39. Either way it was one of my best races of the year and I hope I can stick with my diet, which is always more of an issue with me than my training.

It’s always nice to see people you know during a race, especially when you’re out of your local area. A mile or so in I passed Earl Jackson, a fast runner in the 65-69 age group, and he was running with Rock Hill speedster Cory Tretsky, who was just taking it easy as he recovers from a tough triathlon last week. About 2 miles into the race Cory caught up with me and stayed with me for nearly 2 miles. He was hardly breaking a sweat while he carried on an easy conversation while I was busting a gut and running hard. I told him to go ahead and he said he’d just mosey along until the 4-mile mark. At 4 miles he took off and, amazingly, ended up finishing 17th overall in the race with a time of 1:25!

One final note, for my wife Linda it was her 4th half marathon and a new all-time Personal Record for her by 9 minutes, finishing at a time of 2:28! Not bad for a 61-year-old lady who I never saw run until we had been married for nearly 30 years!

Click Here for Race Results

Click here for Official Race Photos

Our running group, the Gaston County Runners, had about 20 runners
in the race! Great weekend for our group and a lot of fun!



My Stats:

Time:  1:34:24
Pace:  7:13
Age Group: 1 of  42
Overall:  76 of 2759 (2.8%)
Average Heart Rate:  169
Maximum Heart Race:  179
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:15:39  (78.27% according to Runners World)

***************
* 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
5 – Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (2)pleasant  (5)extraordinary
2 – 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)mediocre  (2)not bad  (5)very good  (7)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 promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 – Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS
3 – 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

AWARDS
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)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
5 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
7 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
9 – Entertainment:  (0)no  (1-9)yes
0 – 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
2 – 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
5 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
2 – Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
2 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
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

WEBSITE
2 – Dedicated race website (0)no  (2)yes
2 – Results or link to results posted on website:  (0)no  (2)yes

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
0 – Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes

TOTAL:  105

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Race #205 – Myrtle Beach Half Marathon – Myrtle Beach, SC – 02/16/13

What a week! On Monday I developed “an issue” that I’d rather not broadcast to the entire world. Suffice it to say I was uncomfortable enough that in order to keep my running streak of 600+ days alive I limped and plodded and agonized as I “ran” a mile in approximately 16 minutes. It was possibly the most difficult mile I’ve ever run. If this race had been three days earlier or my “situation” had occurred three days later there’s no doubt that I couldn’t have even made the trip to Myrtle Beach, let alone run the race.

I managed to run a total of 7 miles in the 5 days preceding the race, which worried me a little but I was reassured by some level-headed runners that it would work as a nice taper, and as long as I was able to run on Saturday I’d do fine.

The fact that everything had already been paid for (race registration, hotel, etc.) was beside the point. For me, this is one of my most important races of the season. It’s the 7th race of the 10-race Running Journal Grand Prix, and one of three races that has to be completed in order to receive a double-points bonus in the Grand Prix, which would put me in a much better position. I considered just jogging through the race, possibly starting at the very back of the pack and just moseying along and finishing slowly since any finishing time would keep my double-points option alive.

Me, pre-race, sportin’ the mustache. With the ‘stache, the toboggan, and my sunglasses
(which I need to wear in order to see my watch), none of my friends recognize me.

Things worked out nicely though, and by Saturday morning I felt pretty good so I headed up near the front to start with Bob Nelson and Roberta (Bobbi) Villneff, who had both come from Charlotte and are also competing in the Running Journal Grand Prix. Bobbi took a late detour for the porta potties and ended up in back of us but Bob and I exchanged our semi-mandatory excuses of why we wouldn’t do well and talked about starting off slowly, which we did for the most part.

I never saw Bob again after the first half mile or so, and I didn’t look back, so I wasn’t sure whether or not he was in sight. I gradually built my heart rate up to 167 and was able to keep the average at 167-168 through the first 12 miles. About 7 miles into the race Bobby Aswell passed me (he was running the full marathon) and yelled, “Bob Nelson said to tell you to slow down!” I asked him how far back he was and he said probably about 30 seconds. I was glad to know he wasn’t breathing down my neck but 30 seconds isn’t much of a lead with 5 or 6 miles left to run. I just concentrated on keeping my heart rate where it should be, knowing that’s all I can do.

I finally took a peek in back of me at around the 12-mile mark. I didn’t see Bob or anybody who looked like they’d be in my age group, and I was able to turn up the heart rate to about the 170-172 range and stayed there for the rest of the race. My finish time of 1:35:51 was a little more than 2 minutes slower than last year at the same race (1:33:48), but it’s been a rough 12 months in between those two races for me and I was thrilled to be under 1:36. This is a big race and a lot of years my time wouldn’t have been fast enough for a top-3 finish, but this time around it was good enough for first place in the 60-64 age group, so I was thankful that fleeter feet than mine decided to stay home.

I waited at the finish line and Bob finished 2 minutes and 4 seconds later and 2nd place in the 60-64 age group. We both waited for Bobbi Villneff, who finished a couple minutes later, finishing 2nd in the 60-64 female category. I was surprised to see anybody beat her, but 1st place went to Catherine Wides, the 2012 USA National Masters 8k Champion, who beat Bobbi by about 3 minutes. To put things in perspective, the 3rd place finisher among 60-64 females was more than 22 minutes behind Bobbi, so it was definitely a 2-woman race. Bobbi has only been running for two years and this was her third half marathon, so I believe she still has plenty of improvement left ahead of her. Catherine’s time of 1:38:42 was just a few seconds slower than the state record for the age group of 1:38:27.

John Sneed (1st place 70-74) and
Richard Hefner (1st place 60-64)

Speaking of records, Steve Annan broke the South Carolina state road race record for the 65-69 age group with a time of 1:33:02, slicing 12 seconds off the previous record. If you’ve kept up with my blog, you may remember John Sneed, who had graciously sent me a duplicate award after we ran a race in York this past year where the course was screwy and I ended up running an extra mile. John is now 70 years old but looks like he’s 50 and runs like he’s 30. He hoped to break the state record for the 70-74 age group. He came up short by about 40 seconds (1:43:21) but he finished a full 12 minutes ahead of the 2nd place runner in the age group.

Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Race Photos from MarathonFoto (Select Bi-Lo Myrtle Beach Marathon)

My Stats:

Time:  1:35:51
Pace:  7:19
Age Group: 1 of  88
Overall:  166 of  3362  (4.9%)
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:17:33  (76.37%)

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

RACE COURSE
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)bad  (2)pleasant  (5)extraordinary
2 – 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)mediocre  (2)not bad  (5)very good  (7)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  (1)reasonable  (3)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
5 – Age Group Awards: (0)none  (2)yes  (5)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes   (3)fabulous door prizes!
5 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (3)yes  (5)really cool medals

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

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

T-SHIRTS
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 – 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
5 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
2 – Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
2 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics! (Myrtle Beach Online)

PARKING
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

WEBSITE
2 – Dedicated race website (0)no  (2)yes
2 – Results or link to results posted on website:  (0)no  (2)yes

OTHER
0 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
5 – 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   (RJ Grand Prix)

TOTAL:  112

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Race #193 – Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon – Myrtle Beach, SC – 10/21/12

What a beautiful weekend for a race at the beach! With high temperatures in the mid-70s and zero percent chance of rain it was about as perfect as it could could be for the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon (13.1 miles). Linda and I had planned on skipping this race and instead run next week’s Spinx Half Marathon in Greenville, but a lot of our friends from the Gaston County Runners were going to the beach so we decided to head that way too. We all had a great time. The GCR is a fantastic group of supportive runners. It’s not an organized running club and nobody’s really in charge, but nobody has to be. We have several runs each week that are organized through Facebook and it’s not unusual to have 20 or more runners come out.

The race course for the Mini Marathon was a nice improvement over the course we ran two years ago. Instead of starting at the mostly abandoned original outlet mall in Myrtle Beach with a route that included a large bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway as well as some fairly boring business parks, the race now starts at the new Coastal Grand Mall, skips the bridge, and travels through more scenic areas. Having a variety of bands playing music every couple miles along the way was a nice addition as well. The final 3 miles or so down Ocean Boulevard to the pier then back up the new boardwalk is possibly the best finish of any race I’ve ever run.

For Linda and me, the plan was that if I felt great I could drive down to run the Spinx Half Marathon the following week. Linda had been training for her third half marathon and could do one or the other but not both. She was more than happy to switch races from the rolling hills of Greenville for the flat course at Myrtle Beach.

Everything turned out fine and we were happy with our results. We were both within 2 minutes of our race times from two years ago. I’ve had a lingering cough from a cold that I’ve been trying to get over for several weeks and the coughing and congestion were more of an issue for me than the hamstring that’s been bothering me for the past two months, but I ran pretty well and got 1st place in the 60-64 age group.

As things stand now I probably won’t try to run another half marathon next weekend but I might opt instead for a nearby 5k, or maybe no race at all. A few weeks ago I started making plans to try to run 60 races over the following 52 weeks but have since abandoned that plan. Not only is it expensive to run that many races, but with all of my recent aches and pains it’s probably wiser to slow it down some and be more selective in choosing which races I’m going to run. Not being a fan of cold weather, I’ll probably run fewer races over the winter then go back to a fuller schedule in the spring.

Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Race Photos

Free Photos (Myrtle Beach Online)

My Stats:

Time:   1:39:01
Pace:   7:34
Age Group:  1 of  30
Overall:  90 of  2252
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:20:06  (73.92%)

**************************************
* RACE RATING  (100 Possible Points) *
**************************************

Note: With my new rating system (started in December 2011) there’s not a chance of any race scoring near 100. If it’s important to you, look at each individual category to see how points were earned (or not). Just trying to be more objective with the details. I generally like all of the races I run. If there’s something that really rubs me the wrong way I’ll mention it in the summary above.

RACE COURSE  (20 possible points)
3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 – Water Stops: (at least 1 for 5k, 2 for 10k, 4 for half marathon) (2 points)
1 – Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
1 – Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (1)good
2 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
2 – Finish line: (0)mediocre  (2)pretty good to excellent
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  (6 possible points)
1 – Cost:  (0)expensive  (1)reasonable  (3)cheap!
0 – Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS  (3 possible points)
2 – Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 – Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS  (13 possible points)
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)
1 – Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (1)top 3 or better
0 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (1)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (1)yes

AWARDS  (9 possible points)
2 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (1)yes  (2)excellent
2 – Age Group Awards: (0)none  (1)yes  (2)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes
3 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (1)yes  (3)really cool medals

POST RACE  (7 possible points)
2 – Food for Race Participants: (0)none  (1)some  (2)adequate  (5)a feast!
1 – Entertainment:  (0)no  (1)yes
0 – Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (1)yes

REST ROOMS  (4 possible points)
2 – Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
0 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS  (8 possible points)
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 – Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice
2 – Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 – Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY  (12 possible points)
5 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
2 – Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
2 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes (Myrtle Beach Online)

PARKING  (8 possible points)
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

WEBSITE  (5 possible points)
2 – Dedicated race website (0)no  (2)yes
1 – No dedicated site but separate page on other site (organization, running store, etc):  (0)no  (1)yes
2 – Results or link to results posted on website:  (0)no  (2)yes

OTHER  (5 possible points)
0 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (1)yes, some  (2)excellent
0 – Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (1)yes

TOTAL:  73

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Race #164 – Myrtle Beach Half Marathon – Myrtle Beach, SC – 02/18/12

For the second year in a row the weather was just about perfect for the Myrtle Beach Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5k. Last year was my first year to run the half although I was also there the previous year (2010) on that notoriously cold and wintry weekend when the race was canceled because of a freak snowstorm. This year though, just like last year, it was a little chilly at the start and by the time the race ended the temperature was up around 60 degrees and before the day was over we were able to enjoy a couple hours at the beach before heading home Saturday afternoon.

I didn’t have any huge aspirations for this race since lately I haven’t been running quite as well as I did last fall. With last year’s time of 1:34:19 I ended up in 4th place in the 55-59 age group and I thought it would be great to finish in the top 3 in the age group this year but in a race this size that draws a lot of top runners from all over I knew that wouldn’t be easy or likely. I figured that I’d be okay with a time of under 1:38. Anything more than that and I’m really out of shape or, even worse, it might be the result of an injury along the way.

As always, I took off faster than conventional wisdom would dictate, hitting the 1-mile mark at 6:32 including the 4-5 seconds it took to cross the starting line at the beginning. Butch Holt told me after the race that he saw me go by him in the crowd and figured he’d just let me go ahead and catch up with me 7 or 8 miles into the race, which I complied with perfectly. As he passed me in the 7th mile he asked if I was ready to do it again, alluding to our recent close finishes. I kind of laughed and knew he had more gas than I did on this particular day, and he slowly drifted off ahead. I looked at the heart rate display on my Garmin and I was still at around 170 beats per minute, where I had been since about the second mile. That’s pretty much the upper limit for me. My legs felt like they might go a little faster, but if I crank my heart rate up much past 170 it’s not long until I’m in oxygen debt, so with five or six miles left to run I knew I needed to reserve some energy for those last miles.

I actually felt pretty good despite being passed by what seemed like way too many runners, who I knew were running a much more even pace than I was. In the end it worked out fine. My finishing time of 1:33:48 was about a half minute faster than last year. It wasn’t a PR for me but was one of my better half marathon times so I was happy with it. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t finish in the top 3 in the age group. Actually, I wasn’t even close as the top 3 runners in the 55-59 division all finished in under 1:30, with top finisher Dave Forrest, 59, of Charlotte running an amazing 1:25:09. Even Butch Holt’s speedy finish of 1:31:21, which was a 55+ PR for him, wasn’t enough for a top 3 finish in the 60-64 age group. Of all the old speedsters in attendance, the most impressive had to be 70-year-old Richard Stotlar, who finished the half marathon with a phenomenal time of 1:29:37, which according to the South Carolina records listed on Running.net beat the half marathon record for the 70-75 age group by more than 10 minutes and was over 5 minutes faster than the SC state record for the 65-69 age group!

But enough about the really fast guys. Getting back to me, about a day and a half after the race the official results are finally online. I finished 6th of 102 runners in the 55-59 age group. Maybe one of these days I’ll crack the top 3 in my age group at Myrtle Beach but I’m mostly just happy to be somewhere in the mix.

Click Here for Official Race Results from Active.com

My Stats:

Time:  1:33:48 (chip time)
Pace:  7:09
Age Group:  6 of 102
Overall:   156 of  3,565


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* RACE RATING  (100 Possible Points) *
**************************************

Note: With my new rating system (started in December 2011) there’s not a chance of any race scoring near 100. If it’s important to you, look at each individual category to see how points were earned (or not). Just trying to be more objective with the details. I generally like all of the races I run. If there’s something that really rubs me the wrong way I’ll mention it in the summary above.

RACE COURSE  (20 possible points)
3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
2 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 – Water Stops: (at least 1 for 5k, 2 for 10k, 4 for half marathon) (2 points)
1 – Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
1 – Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (1)good
2 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
2 – Finish line: (0)mediocre  (2)pretty good to excellent
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  (6 possible points)
0 – Cost:  (0)expensive  (1)reasonable  (3)cheap!
0 – Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS  (3 possible points)
0 – Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
1 – Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS  (13 possible points)
2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
2 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
1 – Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (1)top 3 or better
1 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (1)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (1)yes

AWARDS  (9 possible points)
1 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (1)yes  (2)excellent
1 – Age Group Awards: (0)none  (1)yes  (2)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes
3 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (1)yes  (3)really cool medals

POST RACE  (7 possible points)
5 – Food for Race Participants: (0)none  (1)some  (2)adequate  (5)a feast!
1 – Entertainment:  (0)no  (1)yes
0 – Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (1)yes

REST ROOMS  (4 possible points)
2 – Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
2 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS  (8 possible points)
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 – Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice
2 – Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 – Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY  (12 possible points)
5 – Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
0 – Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes

PARKING  (8 possible points)
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

WEBSITE  (5 possible points)
2 – Dedicated race website (0)no  (2)yes
0 – No dedicated site but separate page on other site (organization, running store, etc):  (0)no  (1)yes
2 – Results or link to results posted on website:  (0)no  (2)yes

OTHER  (5 possible points)
0 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
2 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (1)yes, some  (2)excellent
1 – Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (1)yes

TOTAL:  69

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Race #107 – Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon – Myrtle Beach, SC – 10/24/10

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of the inaugural running of the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon. If the website and all of the promotion were any indication of this half marathon event, it would be great for sure, but you really can’t tell from just a website what you’re getting yourself into. Since the New York City Marathon is just two weeks away for me, this was a taper week that called for a long run of 12 miles, so it fit nicely into my plans. Linda was interested in it as well, and trained to run this as her second half marathon. We decided to wait and see how the weather forecast was shaping up before we committed ourselves, and by about Tuesday it was looking like it might be a beautiful beach weekend, so we went ahead and registered a couple of days before the pre-registration cutoff in order to save $20 each on the registration fee. There was no race-day registration and the last day you could register for this Sunday half was Saturday at the expo. The full registration fee of $100 on Saturday is definitely steep for a half marathon, but I have to say this ended up being one of the very best racing experiences we’ve ever had and was well worth it.
We weren’t around for Saturday’s 5k and high heel race but from the photos they looked like a lot of fun. All of the 5k finishers received a finisher’s medal that would rival almost any marathon medal you’ll see. The surboard-shaped finisher medals for the half marathon though were spectacular, by far the best I’ve seen anywhere. In addition to the great finisher medals, the age group awards were also outstanding — thick, beveled glass etched with the surfboard logo and complete race information. Making it even better, the race went 5 deep with awards for all age groups. If that weren’t enough, each group of winners had their pictures taken with Bart Yasso, who handed out the awards. With 76 runners in my age group, I was happy to come away with 3rd place (1:38:26).
The race course began by Medieval Times and the pre-race ceremonies included knights on horses and some pretty impressive sword fights featuring the Medieval Times performers. The course was nice and flat with the exception of a trip up a fairly long bridge in the second mile. The final three miles of the course were straight down Ocean Boulevard to the 2nd Avenue Pier, then back up the brand new Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, ending at the site where The Pavilion once stood. This was followed by entertainment and the awards ceremony just a block north at Plyler Park. It was sunny and beautiful with temperatures in the mid 70s at the end of the race.
With the perfect weather, great race organization, and beautiful course, Linda and I both agreed this was overall our favorite race since we’ve been running. We’ll be back!
Race Rating:
10 – 1-10 Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
10 – 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
10 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
5 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
8 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No)
5 – 0/5 Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No)
6 – 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
7 – 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
9 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
2 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average) (Point-to-Point — Long wait for shuttle)
10 – 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 – 0-10 Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
0 – 0/5 Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
7 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
0-10 Other
TOTAL – 103
My Stats:
Time: 1:38:26
Pace: 7:30
Age Group: 3 of 76 (3.4%)
Gender: 80 of 1001 (8%)
Overall: 93 of 2,698 (3.9%)
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