Some friends told me this was a good race so I decided to run it this year. They were right. It was a fantastic race and it’ll be right at the top of my list next year on races to run.
It was seasonably cool at the start, and somebody pointed out that it was 48 degrees, the same number as Jimmie Johnson’s race car. That’s pretty chilly for me so it was back to wearing tights, which I detest, but I like cold legs even less. I’m hoping that’s the last race until fall where I have to winterize myself.
What a great race though. I’ve run several races centered around Birkdale Village but I still forget the layout and how to get there, so I plugged it into the GPS and made sure to arrive early enough to register for the race and finding both the start and finish line, which on the map looked like they might be quite a distance apart. Fortunately it was an easy jog between the two of maybe a tenth of a mile.
Jimmie Johnson usually runs this race but he couldn’t make it this year because the NASCAR race in Richmond was postponed to 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. I was looking forward to racing with him but I’ll try again next year. He’s a faster runner than me so I may not have seen him in the race anyway.
The course was fairly flat with no huge hills in the first 2 miles, but that changed with one huge climb in the third mile. After getting to the top of that big hill though it was smooth sailing with a downhill to flat finish for the last half mile or so. I felt pretty good and finished in 21:37, which was 20 seconds faster than my 5k last week, and lately if I’m under 22:00 I’m happy.
One of the great perks of this race was all the stuff that was free for all runners. Of course, the T-shirt is always expected, and this was a nice tech shirt. But in addition to that, every registered runner got a nice sling shot backpack with a zippered main compartment and a side mesh water bottle holder, as well as a nice water bottle. After the race there was a great barbecue meal (all you wanted!) with slaw and macaroni and cheese. Then there was a display of “Meta Health Bars” where they were giving them away, not individually and not even by the box, but by the case! I saw people carrying the cases but still felt like I should ask before picking up a whole case, so I asked the girl in charge and she said absolutely, take a whole case, so I picked one up (60 bars) and took it to my car. There were stacks of cases so I appreciate the generosity of the Metamucil Company, but I couldn’t help thinking that maybe this was a temp worker who they told to give out individual bars or maybe boxes (of 6 or 10). I hope that’s not the case and the company was just being generous, and by the way, they’re delicious… and healthy!
In addition to all that, I won the 60-64 age group and also received a $50 gift certificate to Dick’s Sporting Goods, a really nice pair of Under Armour ColdGear Tech gloves (retail $35), and a Mission EnduraCool cooling cap (retail $25). This was one of the few races I’ve ever run where I ended up better off financially after the race and beforehand.
Finally, there were photographers at several locations in the race. The pics are great, and while the photos aren’t free, they’re really cheap and are being sold through SmugMug. As someone who runs a lot of races, I’m constantly frustrated by the big race photography businesses that charge anywhere from $20 to $40 for a single photo. To me that’s a ridiculous amount to pay and it would have to be a Pulitzer Prize winner for me to pay $20 or more for a race photo. If there is a decent picture of me at a reasonable price I try to always buy at least one photo to show my support of low-cost race photography. The price of these photos started at just 19 cents for a 4 x 6. There were a couple of me that I liked so I bought an 11 x 14 ($6.25) and an 8 x 10 ($2.49). If you ran the race, please check out the photos and consider purchasing one or more. The quality is great and we need to support reasonably priced race pics!
Age Group: 1 of 5
Overall: 37 of 311
Age Graded Equivalent Time: 16:56 (76.2%)
* RACE RATING *
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
4 – Course Scenery: (0-5) 1=bad and 5=fantastic
1 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none (1)normal (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers: (0)too few (2)good
7 – Finish line: (0-9) 0=bad and 9=spectacular!
0 – Certified Course: (0)no (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads: (0)yes (1)no
2 – Cost: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
3 – 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
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
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!
0 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals
8 – 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
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
5 – Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
5 – Prices: (1)expensive (3)reasonable (5)cheap
7 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (1-10)yes (*Lo-Res Photos were free)
0 – 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
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
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)