Yesterday morning, drove up to Bakersville for this years Rhododendron Run 10K. First of all, Bakersville is tiny. Just a few hundred people live there, even though it’s the county seat of Mitchell County. It’s a cute little town, and finding the race start was easy.
I heard about The Rhododendron Run years ago, but I had never run it. It has a long history (this year was the 37th running), and this year it provided something extra: it was chosen as the 2014 10K RRCA state championship for North Carolina. I expected this to bring some gazelles from outside the mountains, and indeed it did. After I arrived at Gouge School for packet pickup, I spotted Richard Hefner of Gastonia. Richard is 60+ and would be competing to win the Senior Grandmasters championship.
The start was hot, with many runners seeking the shade in front of the Dollar General store before we lined up on Highway 226 for the gun. The course makes a loop near downtown before crossing town to an area near the finish line at around the two mile mark. The rest of the race is an out-and-back on a country road. The profile is gently rolling throughout. We got some clouds during the race, and then about 35 minutes into the race, the skies opened up. Most of the runners were still on the course. We got a downpour that lasted half an hour or more. The rain offered a welcome respite from the heat.
The race organizers did a fine job. They knew their stuff. The course is certified, and they had water stops and course marshals. There was a pancake breakfast in the cafeteria after the race, and the awards started promptly after the last finisher crossed. Mitchell County is beautiful. I would run this race again.
Congratulations to Peyton Hoyal and Mary Ballinger as winners of the male and female divisions respectively.