race recap: the bear run

Last Thursday night I ran The Bear Run, a 5-mile race up Grandfather Mountain in Linville, NC.

This is Grandfather Mountain. It's supposed to look like the side profile of a man's face: his chin at the bottom, nose, eyes and eyebrows. Use your imagination. Anyway, it's roughly 1540 feet up from where we start in the town of Linville.

I ran this race two years ago while I was living in North Carolina. At that time, I did some intensive hill training with a local running group and thought that I was as ready as ever to run. That year I ran the Bear in 53:00 minutes.

This year I hadn't done any specific hill training, at least not regularly, and therefore didn't have any goals for this race. I was just running for fun.

The race started at 7pm and had over 800 registrants trying to get into two parking lots at the base of the mountain. Thankfully my habit of being ridiculously early to races paid off and we were one of the first cars in the lot. Spectators were allowed to go up the mountain and walk roughly a mile to the summit to watch.
This was the line to get up to the mountain. I was already waiting at the start line.

View from the top of the mountain. The parking lot below is where spectators were allowed to park.
I killed an hour before the start talking to some old running friends and meeting new ones. Soon enough the gun went off and we were moving. From what I remembered of the the course, the first mile is really steep, the second and third miles aren't too bad, and the fourth and fifth are killer. I made a plan to take the first mile easy, hammer out the next two, and just try to survive the last couple.

I'm happy to say that I stuck to my race plan. While everyone was flying up the first mile, I stayed slow and soon was passing everyone who had already begun to walk. I felt good but my hips were really tight.

The course gets pretty tough after three miles and that was the first time I walked. I would walk the switchbacks and run the straight-aways, chatting with other runners who were feeling the same pain. Soon enough I could hear the cheers from the finish line.
Hey, that's me! Green shirt, bottom right on the road.
Almost to the finish! Green shirt with the pack.
The final climb was the worst. I'm pretty sure it was the steepest part of the course but spectators lined both sides of road. This meant no walking or else you'd look like wuss. I may not have much but I have pride.

About ten feet from the finish. I'm jealous because that guy's legs are nicer than mine.
I was also thinking about food.
Get this: 48:28. Nearly 5 minutes faster than 2009. Yeah, I'm as surprised as you.

They moved the finishers through a long finish chute where they gave out medals and water. Most surprising, though, was the fact that I got this:
This mug is given to the top 10% male and female finishers. Um, what? I have one word for that: sweet. And two more: slightly pathetic. I almost didn't want to take it because I didn't feel like I earned it.

          They also give out one of the cutest medals.

What can I say, I've become a swag whore.

Shirt. Mug. Medal. Courtesy of my super crappy camera phone
It's pretty safe to say that I'll be back to the Bear next year and will actually train for it. The only place for me to go is up. Pun intended.


  1. Great shirt and awesome recap! We were at the finish of the marathon getting some video on the weekend. Good stuiff!
    Mike :)

  2. Hey Mike, watched some of your videos! Maybe I'll have to try the marathon next year, too!


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