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.