Over 4500 runners participated in the Charleston Marathon, Half Marathon, and Shrimp and Grits 5K today, and they were treated to magnificent weather conditions and a course that winds through some of the most beautiful parts of one of America's most beautiful cities.
If you are tired of big city, mega-marathons, Charleston is the race for you. The crowds are small, and pre-race problems are minimal. One is able to arrive at the starting line, park the car, and get ready for the race in a short amount of time.
At last night's pasta dinner, I had the opportunity to speak to and meet with runners from all over the country. 49 states and 7 countries were represented in today's race.
The course, which begins near Johnson Hagood Stadium, home of the Citadel Bulldogs, passes Charleston's Battery, and takes runners along famous Rainbow Row, where colorful homes from the Colonial era lie to the left, and the harbor glistens on the right. (see picture below)
A large portion of the route travels on King Street; while other parts of the course take one through quaint Charleston neighborhoods.
There are not a lot of spectators along the route, but those who turn out to watch the race are enthusiastic and loud. "Go y'all," is a common chant.
I have never run a race where the police who lined the route not only did their job brilliantly, but many cheered the runners as we passed by. It was a true representation of Southern hospitality by the men and women in blue.
Bands and individuals along the course played jazz, gospel, and reggae from beginning to the end of the race.
The finish festival was terrific. Runners were treated to shrimp and grits, mimosas, and beer.
I ran the half marathon, and my wife ran the 5K.
The common complaint among fellow half marathon finishers was that the course measured about 1/4 mile long. Indeed, when I checked my GPS watch, it read 13.43 miles. Along the way, the mile markers were consistently long, and my fellow runners and I wondered how this mistake was possible. This is an issue that must be addressed in the future.
Otherwise, the city, the course, the spectators, and volunteers make the Charleston Marathon a fine mid-sized event.