Charleston Marathon (2019) Race Review

I’ve had the Charleston Marathon on my list for years!  The race always falls on the second Saturday of January.  That’s a popular weekend for many races in the southern states.  Since my long term goal is to run a marathon in every state, I try to pick races that fit into my schedule AND are also in a new state.  I finally made it to Charleston this year to check off South Carolina, my 31st state.

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I was really looking forward to this race.  Charleston is one of my favorite places.  I love the location, the weather, the town and the people.  The city never disappoints and I basically begged my friends to go run the marathon with me because of those reasons.  Thanks, Tamyra & Julie for making the trip with me!

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We rolled into town on Friday for the Saturday (1/12/19) race.  The expo was in downtown Charleston at the Gaillard Center. Easy in/out.  Small expo.  Metered parking.  Cool SWAG.  A long sleeve tech tee, which is about the only type race tee that I actually wear, plus a buff & gloves!  All very useful.

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The race was on Saturday morning at 7:15am.  We stayed in a hotel that was close to the start and were able to walk over.  It was about 40 degrees with a cool breeze.  The start area was at a local high school.  Runners and spectators were able to wait inside & even use the school bathrooms, if they had time.   Race started on time and we began our 26.2 mile tour of the area.  First up, Hampton Park, the Citadel & the Battery (my favorite area).

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Then we turned down King Street, which is known as the art & shopping area.  New and old mixed together.  I loved this old pharmacy sign.

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Once we got thru the shopping district, we headed out of Charleston toward North Charleston.  I’ll be honest, the sightseeing kinda stopped when we left Charleston between mile 7 & 8.  It was a long way up to North Charleston, we did run thru some sort of Government area that allowed us to see some of the swampy areas but it was a lot of time with just us, the road & our fellow runners.  We made fast friends with those around us to pass the time.  There were a couple spots with live entertainment.  Aid stations (and potties) were every 2 miles or so.  Lots of water, Gatorade & GU brand gels.  The volunteers & police support were great.

The skies were overcast most of the day and the temps were 40s to low 50s.  Great weather for those of us who came from the northern states!

Once we got up to Riverfront Park in North Charleston, it was around mile 18. The half marathon runners turned off to finish, the full marathon runners went out and looped North Charleston.  This is the map from my watch, if you want to see the course.

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We could hear the finish line music and fun during a lot of the 8 mile loop around North Charleston and it was a welcoming return as we headed back to Riverfront Park.  Cute area & a great place for the finish line festival.

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The finish festival greeted us with music, food & several varieties of Sam Adams beer, plus mimosa’s.  Plenty of space to hang out with the family.  But the temps were cool and it was windy so we headed for the buses to shuttle us back to Charleston as soon as all of us finished.  No lines for the buses!  Huge win!   And just like that marathon #52 was in the books.

I was a bit disappointed that the race didn’t showcase more of the great city of Charleston.    Especially the bridges that go over the Coopers River.  So we got up early and went to run the Arthur Ravenel Bridge on Sunday morning before starting the drive home.  This bridge goes from Charleston to Mount Pleasant.  There is a walking/running/biking section on the bridge and it’s a popular spot, any day of the week.  My favorite time of day is always sunrise, so we started early enough to catch the sun coming up.

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If you want more information on Charleston, the bridge, or would like to see more photos, check out my previous post from a visit in 2015:  Charleston SC, I Ran That Town.

** Happy Running **  Amanda – TooTallFritz

Charleston, SC ….. I Ran That Town

Hubby and I don’t travel much together.  On the rare occasion when we do travel together, we do so quickly so as not to put to much burden on Grandma TooTall as she is always the one who helps with the kids & dogs in our absence.  Thanks, Mom!  As a result, it’s been years, probably 2 or 3, since we’ve taken a long weekend alone together.

Our long weekend destination this time was Charleston, SC.  Beautiful 13 hour drive (from Ft Wayne, IN).  Historic town.  Lovely people.  Fitness oriented community.  Clean.  Vagrant free.  Best road trip ever. 

I was also able to safely run both days we were in town so I was happy.  On Day 1, I  ran 8 miles.  4 miles out, then back.  This route ran over the Ashley River Bridge, along the Chesterton Bay Marina, and down Battery Row past the amazing historic mansions, toward the fountain & waterfront park. It was “slightly” dark on my way out.

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The sun was coming up on my way back to the hotel.  I grabbed a few more photos, including one of this mansion on Battery Row that caught my eye.

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Interestingly enough, that beautiful pink mansion is for sale.  And it can be yours.  For upwards of seven million or so $$.  If you buy this home, please let me come visit.  I didn’t bother calling for a showing.  Cuz we were short on time and $7,000,000.

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After retuning from my Day 1 run, I proceeded to take hubby on a driving tour of what I saw while running.  Then we spent the remainder of the day walking & touring Charleston.  We walked 10.5 miles and saw so many historic sites, parks, brick & cobblestone roads and just drank in all the beer beauty of this small town.  We even made a quick trip to Folly Beach to see the Atlantic Ocean.

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Folly Beach

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During Day 1, we saw lots of banners for the Cooper River Bridge Run.  We saw a constant stream of signs, coasters & pint glasses all advertising the run.  Plus the bridge was visible throughout the city and from the riverboats. 

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Knowing how races promote, I knew that the Bridge Run was either coming up or had just passed.  It was over.  March 28, 2015 was the day of the 38th Bridge Run.  We didn’t roll into town until April 1st at 9pm.  But I wasn’t leaving town without running that bridge.  The Cooper River Bridge Run has become iconic with runners in the US.  It’s currently the 3rd largest 10K in the US.  It starts in Mount Pleasant, runs across the bridge, up King Street & then finishes in downtown Charleston on Meeting Street in the heart of the historic district. 

Day 2 – THE bridge run!  2.5 miles each way.  Not so easy for this flatlander going up but going down was SWEET!  WhoooHoooo!

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You know there is a lot of foot traffic on a bridge when there are directional signs.  Yep.  Lots of foot & bike traffic.  

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The view was beautiful on my first trip over.  The sun was just starting to come up and it was bright enough for me to see and take photos.   However, I wasn’t prepared for how spectacular the view would be on my return trip.  The sun was moving higher in the sky and the visual result was amazing.  This was definitely a moment when I paused to give thanks for my ability and desire to run. This was one of those “priceless” moments.  I’m thankful to be a runner.  I’m thankful to be healthy enough to run “most” days.  I’m thankful that my will and desire to run actually gets me out of bed when I’d sometimes rather sleep a bit longer.

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After the bridge run, I took hubby on a drive to Mt Pleasant so he could experience the bridge too.  Then we spent the rest of the day in Charleston walking another 12.5 miles while sightseeing & touring.  Yeah, my legs & feet were almost tired after 2 days of fun. 

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Lots of old churches. Tons of old graveyards.  So much history between the various wars in the region, the Navel Station, the Charleston Port which is still one of the largest exporters in the US and the pirates drawn to the area thru the waterways.  I’m not going to tell you everything about Charleston but you might want to check it out for yourself.  Nice area.  Rich history.  Worth the trip. 

** Go Run Charleston ** Amanda – TooTallFritz