Race #308 – “The Burn” Labor Day 5k – Gastonia NC – 09/07/15

2015-the-burn-starting-lineThe Tower Trail up to the top of Crowders Mountain is just about the last place I’d ever want to run a 5k. It’s a steep and winding gravel road used only by trucks that service the TV towers at the top of the mountain, and I’d be afraid to drive it in my car.


In spite of my misgivings regarding this particular running route, it’s one I’m quite familiar with since it’s my running club’s regular Thursday evening group run. I’ve probably run it at least 50 times. Although some people love running here, I’m not a fan, and I’ve disliked it ever since the first time I huffed and puffed my way to the top.


This was the second year the race has been held, and the first year I just decided to stay away, opting instead for a race on a paved street, much more to my liking. This year I decided to give it a try, not so much because I wanted to but partly because I’m trying to run as many races in the Gaston County YMCA series as I can, and partly because I wondered how I might fare when there’s actually a clock involved. Ordinarily during our group runs I just mosey up the mountain with no worries about time, so this would give me more incentive to make it up more quickly.


In all of my training runs up the mountain I had only made it to the top without walking once, and that time I wasn’t any faster than when I took multiple walk breaks, so I decided I’d keep the same strategy in the race and walk when I needed to, beginning at the 1-mile point where the mountain becomes so steep it’s hard just to walk up. I walked probably 5 or 6 times on the steep half-mile leading up to the turnaround. After turning around, of course, it’s all pretty much downhill, but that first half mile where I had been walking is so steep that you have to hold yourself back so you don’t end up completely out of control, and the gravel makes it even harder to get a grip on the road. Fortunately the last mile is not nearly as steep so you can make up a little time. My mile splits were 8:35, 10:32, and 6:57, which gives a pretty good indication of the differences in each of those 3 miles.


I finished the race in 26:17, a miserable time on a flat surface but a time I was really happy with on this course. I finished 11th overall, just behind the first female. Jimmy Glover and Andy Inman finished 1st and 2nd respectively with times of 21:56 and 23:02, and they both normally run in the 18:xx range, so my time seemed reasonable. Before the race I didn’t know what to expect regarding my time, and I was hoping that I’d be under 30 minutes, so it looked pretty good as I approached the finish line with the clock just over 26 minutes.


As much as I still don’t like running this mountain, I actually enjoyed the race and will most likely keep doing it every year for as long as I can. It might provide some incentive during the weekly group runs and it’ll be interesting to see how my time changes over the years.


Race Number:  308


Race Name:  “The Burn” Labor Day 5k


Location:  Crowders Mountain State Park, Gastonia, NC (Linwood Road Access)


Date:  September 7, 2015 (Labor Day)


Race Rating:  68



  • Male:  Jimmy Glover (Age 58) — 21:56
  • Female:  Katie Danis (Age 15) — 26:01


Course:  Steep, winding gravel road up Crowders Mountain, with turnaround about 2/10 of a mile from the top.



  • Gain:  557 feet
  • Loss:  536 feet
  • Minimum Elevation:  905 feet
  • Maximum Elevation:  1466 feet




Weather at Start:  Partly cloudy, 72 degrees, 78% humidity



Race Results:




Click Here for FREE Race Photos on Facebook (121 pics)


My Stats:

Time:  26:17
Pace:  8:29
Age Group:  1 of  4
Overall:  11 of  103
Average Heart Rate:  159
Maximum Heart Race: 170
Age Graded Equivalent Time:  20:51  (62.29%)





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
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
6 – Finish line: (0-9) 0=bad and 9=spectacular!
0 – Certified Course: (0)no (2) yes
2 – Correct Distance: (0)no (2)yes
0 – 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 online within 24 hours: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Easy to find results: (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)
0 – Top Overall M/F: (0)none or first only (2)top 3 or better
0 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no (2)yes
3 – Grand Masters Category (50+): (0)no (3)yes
0 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no (5)yes

2 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
2 – Age Group Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
2 – 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

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

0 – Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
1 – 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!
0 – Material: (0)cotton (2)technical fabric
0 – Discount for no-shirt option: (0)no (2)yes

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

0 – Close to Start: (2)yes (0)no
0 – Close to Finish: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces: (2)yes (0)no  (*at remote location)
2 – Free Parking: (2)yes (0)no

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

TOTAL:  68


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