Race #324 – Tobacco Road Half Marathon – Cary, NC – 03/13/16

2016-tobacco-road-LOGOI’m cutting back on traveling for races this year, but this is a race I really enjoyed two years ago so I decided to go back along with some of my running friends from the Gaston County Runners. It’s a big race but not so big you’re completely lost, with 2262 finishers in the half and 974 in the full marathon this year.

 

The weather was unusually warm and humid (63 degrees and 94% humidity) at the start. That’s too hot and humid for most runners but I love it so no complaints from me on that. I like mostly everything about this race except for a couple of exceptions. Parking is a problem unless you pay $10 to park at the race site, which has a limited number of parking spaces. The first time I ran the race I parked at a site several miles away and took the bus to the race site, then had to take the bus back after the race. The buses were fine and everything went smoothly, but I paid the extra 10 bucks this year just for the convenience of having my car nearby.

 

The only other quibble I had was that the age group awards weren’t handed out at the awards ceremony. They only announced the overall winners, and told the age group winners to pick up their awards at a table on the side of the tent. It would have been nice to have all of the awards announced and let the age group winners by recognized, which is the way things are usually done. That wouldn’t have cost a cent extra, and while the vast majority of runners couldn’t care less, the age groupers take it a little personally.

 

Speaking of age groups, I managed to eek out a 2nd place finish in the 60-64 age group with a time of 1:44:30. These days I’m pretty happy just to finish under 1:50 so managing to get under 1:45 was even better, although I have to admit it’s harder for me now to run 1:45 than it was just two or three years ago to run 5 or 10 minutes faster. This was my 88th half marathon and I’m considering quitting half marathons altogether but would like to get to a total of 100, so I guess I’ll at least try to hit that goal over the next year or two, then back off to just running shorter races.

2016-tobacco-road-before-start-with-friends
With friends before the start of the race.

Race Number:  324

 

Race Name:  Tobacco Road Marathon and Half Marathon

 

Location:  Cary, North Carolina (Raleigh area)

 

Date: March 13, 2016

 

Race Rating:  99

 

2016-tobacco-road-half-map

Course: Flatter than most although a few long gradual hills. It’s an out-and-back course with the first (and last) 2.5 miles on paved streets leading to the American Tobacco Trail (ATT), with the remainder of the race on the unpaved but smooth trail. The full marathon follows more of the ATT.

 

Weather at Start:  63 degrees, 94% humidity, partly cloudy.

 

Click Here for Race Results

 

Click Here for Race Photos

 

Click Here for Race Website

 

My Stats:

  • Time:  1:44:30
  • Pace:  7:58
  • Age Group:  2 of  24
  • Overall:  194 of  2262
  • Average Heart Rate: 166
  • Maximum Heart Race: 177
  • Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:22:16 (70.97%)

2016-tobacco-road-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
3 – 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
8 – 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)
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

AWARDS
5 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
5 – Age Group Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
x – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0-9)
x – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals

POST RACE
8 – 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
1 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no (2)yes
3 – 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
0 – Close to Start: (2)yes (0)no (*for $10)
0 – Close to Finish: (2)yes (0)no (*for $10)
2 – Plenty of spaces: (2)yes (0)no (*remote parking)
2 – Free Parking: (2)yes (0)no  (*remote parking)

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

TOTAL:  99

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Race #245 – Tobacco Road Half Marathon – Raleigh, NC – 03/16/14

Pros:

  • Well organized. Excellent communication before the race so there were no surprises.
  • Buses to race site were great. Basically no waiting and no lines. Fill a bus up and go!
  • 200′ x 60′ tent erected the day before the race “just in case it rains.” (It was spectacular!)
  • Great food (pizza, hot soup, chocolate milk, lots more).
  • Mostly flat but there were a few inclines.
  • Lots of “Free Race Pics” in addition to professional photography from Capstone Photo.
  • Plenty of volunteers who did a good job with everything I could see.
  • Great finisher medals for both the marathon and half marathon.
  • Lots of porta potties (No long lines).
  • In addition to the technical fabric T-shirt, all runners received a free pair of calf sleeves.

Cons:

  • Parking. There were 900 parking spaces on site that sold out for $10 each. Definitely worth it so you could have your car there, but as mentioned above, the buses were handled beautifully both before and after the race.
  • No corrals at start (with thousands of runners it would be a good idea).
  • It’s not a trail race, but a good portion of the race is on an unpaved (but smooth) trail. It was dry and no problem at all, but might have been a mess in wet weather.
  • No Grand Masters or Senior Grand Masters awards (would be nice in a big race)

I started out with friends Dianne and Birgitt, who both won age group awards.
We were way back in the pack at the beginning of the race and it was too crowded to
get closer to the starting line. Of course we took time to pose for a photo. 

Click Here for Race Results

My Stats:

Time:  1:38:06 (chip time)
Pace:  7:29
Age Group:  1 of  28
Overall:  143 of  2351 (6.1%)
Average Heart Rate:  170
Maximum Heart Race:  191 (probably not right… I think I got a bad reading)
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:17:53 (76.03%)

This is a photo from “Free Race Pics” at 3 miles into the race.

***************
* 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
2 – Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (2)pleasant  (5)extraordinary
1 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
5 – Finish line: (0)mediocre  (2)not bad  (5)very good  (7)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 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 ($17,000 total prize money)
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
10 – 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
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!
5 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes  (5)lots of free pics!

PARKING
0 – Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no  (900 paid spaces filled quickly at $10)
0 – Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
0 – Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 – Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no  (Off site)

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

OTHER
2 – 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 (Calf sleeves for everybody)
0 – Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes

TOTAL:  112

All age group award winners received a really nice athletic bag embroidered with the Tobacco Road Marathon logo.

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Race #216 – NC Road Runners Invitational Half Marathon – Cary, NC – 05/19/13

Since it was the RRCA (Road Runners Clubs of America) state championship I decided to make the trip to Cary and give it a shot. It was a cloudy day and before the race I thought it would be good to switch to the clear lenses in my video glasses. As I was switching the lenses a small piece of plastic broke off at the top and exposed the wiring. I decided it would be best not to get it wet, so I didn’t wear my glasses and don’t have a video or pics for this race.

I was glad to see Peter Asciutto from Vac & Dash there, and in addition to taking some photos he gave out the RRCA state championship awards (he’s the RRCA State Representative). I won the Senior Grand Masters, so that’s nice, but I really had a hard time with this race. There were way more hills than I expected, in addition to probably 8 or 9 miles of unpaved roads (or I guess it was the Umstead bridle trails). I’m a road guy and don’t really like getting off the pavement if I can help it. I thought it was strange that the state championship half marathon for the Road Runners Clubs of America would be run on a predominantly unpaved course.

My official chip time in this race (1:44:59) was actually a full 5 minutes slower than I ran recently in the Kings Mountain Half Marathon, which no doubt had more hills, and 10 minutes slower than the Germantown Half Marathon in late March. Looking back after the fact (I’m writing this on the following Wednesday), I believe my biggest physical problem was that I had developed what I thought was a cold that I caught from my 2-year-old granddaughter. She was over it in just a couple of days and I figured that after a little bit of discomfort I’d be back to normal in two or three days (it started for me on the previous Sunday). It turns out that I felt progressively worse every day until I decided I needed to go to the doctor yesterday (Tuesday). He put me on a prednisone dose pack and after just one day I’m feeling remarkably better, so I’m hoping I’ll be back to normal for the two races I’m planning for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

The course was primarily out-and-back. Much of the first mile was down
one of those huge hills where you have to apply the brakes to keep from
losing control. I worried about having to climb back up it in the 13th mile
but was surprised when just before the hill we switched to a path along the
greenway that completely bypassed going back up that route. It was still
an uphill climb, but nearly as bad as it could have been.

This was just before the finish line, and I’m looking way more refreshed
than I was feeling, although it was nice to see the end in sight.
RRCA Half Marathon State Champions for 2013.

Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Photos from Carolina Snapshot

Click Here for Photos on Facebook (89 Photos – RRCA North Carolina)

My Stats:

Time:  1:44:59 (chip time)
Pace:  8:01
Age Group:  1 of  5
Overall:  76 of  528 (14.4%)
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  1:24:08 (70.38%)

***************
* 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
2 – Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (2)pleasant  (5)extraordinary
0 – 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)not bad  (5)very good  (7)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
1 – Cost:  (0)expensive  (1)reasonable  (3)cheap!
3 – 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)
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
3 – Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (3)yes
5 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no  (5)yes (for RRCA)

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)no  (2)yes   (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
3 – 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)
0 – 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… (except just before start)
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
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
2 – 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
2 – Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (2)yes

TOTAL:  95

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Race #18 – 2009 Krispy Kreme Challenge (Raleigh NC) – 02/07/09

So today we traveled 200 miles down Tobacco Road to run the Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh along with 5,000 other sweet-toothed runners. Run 2 miles, eat a dozen doughnuts, and return to the starting point. The “challenge” is to finish in one hour. This was a race without a real sense of urgency, so I stayed with Linda throughout the race and we just kind of ran in mosey mode. Just as well, because when we arrived at the Krispy Kreme that was our destination there was a bit of a logjam (as you can see in the photos) with a few thousand other people trying to get and then eat their dozen doughnuts. The mess on the ground was pretty bad, but didn’t really compare with the organizational mess of this race. It took probably 15-20 minutes just to get the doughnuts so it was probably best to not worry much about how quickly you were going to finish the race. I was in the “Challenger” (timed) category and Linda was in the “Casual” (untimed) category. Before the race I wondered how the challengers might be organized in order to be sure they ate their doughnuts — possibly long tables with judges being sure everything went down before sending you speeding on your way, but nope. It wasn’t that critical. You could have just thrown the doughnuts away or even have just picked up an empty box and took off out the other end (throwing the empty box in a big pile was your proof that you finished). Oh well, it was all for a good cause and they raised lots of money for charity. I bought one of the “finisher” T-shirts on the way out, which should be a nice conversation piece but was an extra 15 bucks. The regular T-shirt given to all the participants was a real disappointment and probably the worst T-shirt I’ve seen in any race. Awards were given only to the Top 5 men finishers and Top 5 women finishers as well as the one person with the fastest split eating time… no age group awards at all. The porta potty situation was also a mess. Luckily most people couldn’t find them at all, which kept the line down to a hundred yards or so. There were a total of 10… that’s 1 for every 500 runners, not counting spectators. Overall, we had fun and I’m glad we ran but I won’t be coming back for seconds next year.
Race Rating:
6 – 4/6 Number of Participants (4 for less than 100; 6 for 100 or more)
5 – 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
5 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, stating winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
5 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
2 – 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)
6 – 4/6 Online Registration (6=Yes and 4=No)
6 – 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
3 – 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
6 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
3 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
9 – 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
3 – 3/7 Age Groups (7 if 5-year groups; 3 if 10-year groups)
2 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
0 – 1-10 Other
TOTAL – 65
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