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!


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

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

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

2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
1 – 70+ group (1)
2 – Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (2)top 3 or better
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

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

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

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

2 – T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
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

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!

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

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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