Flat. Fast. Fire engines. That sums up the Mount Mourne Volunteer Fire Department Elf 5k. The race is a fundraiser for the Mount Mourne VFD south of Statesville in Iredell County, and they've been putting on the Elf 5k each holiday season for a few years now.
The firemen treated the runners very well, moving the fire engines out of their garage so that we could use the building for registration, warmup and post-race festivities, out of the wind and the 40-degree temperatures. For both the 5k and the kids' quarter-mile fun run, the start of the race was heralded by all the engines running their sirens and horns -- so anyone in the area would have known that something was going on. Support staff from the Iredell County sheriff's office also monitored the race course and led the way.
The course itself was very flat, leading to some excellent times from the overall winners; the women's overall winner was an 11-year-old girl from a local school who should be on a running scholarship in a few years. On the out-and-back course we got to see all the other runners, both the serious racers who were pushing the pace and the more relaxed plodders like me who were just out having a good time. I did spot a couple of race shirts from the Triangle area: one Tarheel 10-miler shirt and one 2007 City of Oaks marathon shirt.
Post-race, the overall and age-group winners received very nice Elf 5k trophies, and about 30 runners won door prizes ranging from nice picture frames to cell phone cases to gift cards at local fast-food restaurants. The Elf 5k t-shirts were long-sleeved and red, with a cute cartoon of elves with one of the station's fire trucks. (From the number of left-over t-shirts, they may have been expecting a bigger crowd than turned out.) One of the race organizers apologized for not having a sports drink other than water for the runners and for the lower number of door prizes, explaining that the economy had depressed the number of sponsors and the amount of the sponsor donations. I didn't hear anyone complain about it, though.
The guys at the Mount Mourne VFD put on a great race, nicely timed to get people out and running between the holidays. I had a great time at their race and wish them lots of success with the Elf 5k in the future.