Charleston Marathon Race Review
This race is a gem. I feel fortunate that the entire running community has not found this marathon yet, and I got to run it while it was still on the smaller side. Get this marathon on your to do list.
The Charleston Marathon expo was held in a high school gym. The expo lacked any big running companies, but still had all the last minute supplies you might need race day. The volunteers were extremely helpful and friendly. The Charleston Marathon offers pacing groups, which I took advantage of. The smaller size of the race kept it from feeling too crowded at the start, even with the full and half marathon starting together. The aid stations were well spaced and supplied. The course is beautiful, I made sure to take moments during the run to soak in the surroundings. Tree lined streets, Victorian houses, calm bays and and harbors make the course memorable. The practically flat terrain made it easy to get in a groove. Crowd support is on the lighter side but adequate to make you feel like you are running a race. The aide stations were super supportive with cheering too. Post run I missed out on the free beer with Shrimp and Grits. My buddy Joe did get to enjoy both and was happy with the post race goodies. The temps were just about perfect, just under 50 F for the start and just under 60 F at the finish. There were clear skies and sunshine for the whole 26.2 miles. The town and the race are both charming and exude friendliness.
The shirt for the event is just alright. A white long sleeve tech tee with a large sublimated print from a local artist, your grandma will think it is lovely. The timing chip was attached to your bib # the same way your bag check and free beer tags were. I wasn’t too fond of the way it dangled. It made me nervous thinking it might easily fall off during the race. I ended up reinforcing the connection with a safety pin just to be certain it didn’t fall off. If you plan on getting back to the start you have to buy an additional bus ticket. Just make it part of the registration fee. If people don’t use the bus, oh well thanks for contributing. That is really my only issues and they are petty.
Here is how you can tell this was a great marathon. I went into this event with what I suspected was the start of a stress fracture in my right foot. I ran most of the marathon in moderate pain and finished (3:29) in blinding pain. I was not able to put weight on my foot soon after the race, so I bought some crutches right away. When I got home, I went to see a doctor and he confirmed the fracture in my 3rd metatarsal. If I had a reason to hate a race this might have been a good one. Instead, I really loved everything about the race. It is in a beautiful location and the course is fun. The out and backs on the course let me see some of the other runners and provided motivation to keep moving. I lined up with the 3:15 pacers and realized after 10 miles, that it wasn’t going to be my day for the PR. My pacers looked like they could have leaped off the pages of Runner’s World. Michelle was a well toned brunette in her mid to late twenties, any guy would want to keep up with her. Michelle’s PR is a 2:55. The other pacer was a very friendly young guy named Thomas. I believe his PR is around 2:50. They were both great to run with and were especially nice when I fell behind. On out and backs they would shout encouraging words even as the gap between us continued to grow. This race should be on your list. This year was only it’s 3rd running. I have a feeling in 3-5 years this will be a much larger race. I would like to run it again someday. Course map
I ran in the Saucony Progrid Type A5. They felt perfect considering the conditions. They are light, fast, with good traction. The fracture was in the works awhile before the shoes, I don’t believe they had contributed to the injury at all. I used Tailwind for my nutrition. I packed a Hydrapak soft flask with 5 scoops of Tailwind and just enough water to create a liquid super fuel. I was well trained for the event and all the gear performed perfectly. The injury is 100% my fault, I felt it coming on and minimized the symptoms to my coach. I knew going into the race there was a chance that I would cause more damage to my foot, but took the risk. While I am proud that I was able to finish the race, I realize that it was a bit foolish. As runners we we teach ourselves to ignore pain and struggle through mental and physical challenges. This time the challenge should have been knowing when to control my ambitions. If I hadn’t been injured, I believe that the stage was set for a PR. I will cross train while my foot heals and come back to try to get a sub 3:15 marathon this year.
Have something to say? Leave a Comment
Glad to hear you enjoyed the Charleston Marathon, despite the injury. Having lived there for a few years, I’m not surprised – everyone I talk to seems to love Charleston.
Good luck on the next race (and if you’re ever looking to do something shorter in Charleston, the Cooper River Bridge Run is a beautiful 10K)!
Hi Barry, It sounds like the Bridge Run is a popular event in Low Country.Happy trails.
I ran this too, the half marathon, and like you thought it was a great race. I live in Charleston and if I ever start doing fulls, I would definitely do this one. It was a well organized half and lots of beautiful scenery, plus having pacers is a great thing (some of my friends served as pacers, kudos to pacers!). Plus, it’s impossible to run in Charleston and not smile!
Really sorry about your foot pain and then finding out it is a fracture. Hopefully you will recover soon and get back up to speed (sounds like you’re already super fast!). At least you got the race over with before all of that happened.
Thanks Amy. Lucky you Charleston is a great place to call home. We had some fantastic meals while in town too.
That is a real bummer about your injury. Running teaches alot of lessons (at least this is so with me) and some of them are downright painful ones. Heal well and quickly!
I have never been to Charleston but have heard nothing but positive things about the town and the people. Now that I know about this race it is even more on my radar. Great pictures by the way.
It’s a must
Hey this was a great read! After reading your blogs you have inspired me to start my own blog. My main goal is to inspire and provide advise to other runners Wheather it’s a question about back pain or barefoot running I am happy to answer them. Check out my blog, it would be amazing if you can make suggestions on how I can me it grow.
The blog is zinnrunning.blogspot.com
Great job Thomas! Sub 3:30 with fractured foot, WOW! (You would get strange gaze from lay people and a question why??? From runners you get pat on the back and congratulations!).
I also run the marathon. I’m sure we shake hands before the start, I was in the 3:15 pacing group too. Reading your review I agree with some points, and noticed some other you did not mention.
The finish line was located by North Charleston High School and their lockers and showers were available for the runners. I was damaged finishing the marathon, but after the hot shower I felt almost completely regenerated. The feeling was incredible, it happened to me first time in my 35 years of running.
As you mention the marathon is still not discovered runners community. I don’t think it will be for long. Statistically it has a better chance for good weather than the one running a week latter down south. The weather and scenery was superb. As a small marathon it did not have as many spectators as the giant ones, at the same time your family can cheer for you in several points on the course.
As young marathon it has several small problems. They should not use plastic caps for drinking. Fast runners tend to make sort of funnel from a cup to avoid splashing liquid when drinking. If you try to do that with plastic cup it will brake and the liquid finish outside your body. For future please use paper cups!
As long as we are at hydration stations I would like that the great kids helping us have aprons to avoid getting wet. (Sorry guys for the splashing)
Finally we got to the ugly:
I don’t agree with you that the chip problems were petty. On Facebook you can read post by a runner who pick up chips on the course and brought them to the finish line. Could you imagine preparing for marathon for few months and then do not have a proof of finishing because of negligence of timing company?
The problems did not finish with chips. If you go to results page you can find out that the first place in general classification belongs to the forth guy in the marathon. General classification does not include top finishers, and winners in master and grand master category. Those runners can not be found using their search function (this apply to the applet embedded in your site – just try to find me (1038)). As well it looks like they did not cross the finish line.
I contacted Racemine about those problems but they were completely dismissive.
I got really tired of their response that I created marathon result spreadsheet myself. You can download it here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0By1WFBzjW02XeUxpQ3lvNmx4Q1U/edit?usp=sharing
It is difficult to blame marathon organizers for this scandal, their fault was choosing bad timing company. Being older guy I had opportunity to run lot of races. From top of my head I really like the company timing Philly marathon. (text messages, bib with your name on it). As your idea with transportation I think runners would pay few extra dollars to be timed in logical honest way.
BTW. How is your foot now?
I do remember you from the start. Good comments and some solid suggestions Greg. Thank you.