I know, I know. I've been dragging my feet on finishing this post. But since my next half marathon is next weekend, I figured I better get cracking on this one! So, off we go...
Overall, this race was fantastic. I may be biased because of my undying love for Charleston, but I definitely had an awesome time and will be back next year.
This race is a young race - only in its third year for the half and second year for the full marathon. Considering that, I'd say Charleston is doing a bang-up job. I also appreciated the cause for this race, which is the Youth Endowment for the Arts, a Charleston-based organization that supports fine arts programming in Charleston County schools. Since the arts are near and dear to my heart, I like that I could support this cause and also get my race on.
Compared to Thunder Road (which admittedly, is not a fair comparison simply because of longevity), this expo was small, but there were still local running store vendors there, including TrySports. I'm sure as the event grows, the expo will as well.
The packet picket up was a little disorganized and we weren't sure which line we were supposed to be in for what. Bibs were also a separate pickup area than race bags which were a separate area from race shirts. It would have been nice if all of the items were packaged together in one race bag instead of having to go to three different spots, but the friendly volunteers at least made it a pleasant experience.
The Course, Aid Stations, and Entertainment
At the 10K Mark
This is a fast, flat course that takes you through some of the prettiest streets in Charleston, including Bay Street along the water and all the way up King Street (hello, window shopping!). Once you get past downtown Charleston, the course goes up through a more industrial area. It's a little desolate, but to be honest since I was running with a friend, I didn't really notice much of my surroundings since we were talking (as much as we could talk, at least) most of the way.
The half and full both follow the same course until mile 10, when they break off and the marathoners head off to do a several mile loop before rejoining the half marathon course where they originally broke off.
After I said goodbye to my friend, who was running the full, I followed the half course over the last 5K, winding through streets in North Charleston. Mile 11 runs through a park area and for a brief bit it takes runners off-road and onto a trail. The race wraps up at mile 12 running through more industrial areas (and by some paper mills) until ending in a cute little neighborhood with bars and restaurants right by North Charleston High School.
Aid stations on the course were set up every 2 miles. I only used one at mile 10, where there was Coke and I just took a quick swig. The aid stations appeared to be well stocked and organized.
There wasn't a ton of entertainment on the course - just a few high school drumlines. Entertainment could be beefed up a bit, but then, a Rock 'n Roll series race this is not.
Charleston, you're lacking here. Crowd support was fairly non-existent anywhere but at the finish line. And even that was fairly sparse, especially considering I finished somewhat early in the half marathon race, plus all those marathoners who were also running the same course. Again, this may have to do with the fact that it's such a new race, and hopefully with time, more crowds will come out to support the runners. Because really, crowd support matters!
As I mentioned upstream, overall, this was a fun race, I had a good time, and I PR'd! So, I'll take it and I'll be back again next year. And one of my favorite parts of the race? The shrimp and grits and beer at the finish line. I'll run for those any day of the week!
Finished with the half (me) and the full (my friend, Nicole)
Visit Part 2 of my recap for my own personal race info, including splits and what I finally got right on race day that kept me feeling good and helped me avoid previous issues with nausea.