Upon arriving in Tybee, we stopped first at the race expo where we picked up our race packets and visited the few vendors that were in attendance. We bought some GU from the Fleet Feet Savannah vendor, then meandered around a little more before leaving. After seeing the fantastic t-shirt design for the 2014 race, we were really hoping the expo would have posters for sale, but sadly, they did not. We did later email the race director with a request to sell posters in the future.
The first event, a 5K, occurred Friday night. A shuttle provided by the Run Fest took us from our hotel room to the starting line of the 5K where a party was already in full swing. There was music, food and drink aplenty along with an inflatable archway over the starting line. As we waited for the race to begin we took a moment to pose in front of the Peanutmobile with Mr. Peanut. Race volunteers were everywhere passing out free glow necklaces to anyone who would have them. After listening to the national anthem, the race began in a timely fashion. We raced through dark streets, lit by portable spotlights and fallen glow necklaces. The 5K had sold out, so the crowd was plentiful and no runner was ever alone. The loop course returned us to the starting line where Fun. was blasting over the speakers and race photographers were snapping photos. We both came in faster than we expected for as easy as the race felt (Julie - 25:09, Justin - 18:39). We took full advantage of all the food offerings after this race and partook in cookies, Cokes, sports drinks, Muscle Milk, beer, and (our favorite on a chilly night) gumbo (we visited this line twice!)
A warm shuttle carried us back to the Ocean Plaza and we attempted to wind down after such excitement, though already couldn't stop reminiscing about our first experience at Critz.
The following morning began at 7 a.m. with a 10K which was beset by rain, but didn't dampen the experience at all. Once again, the giant inflatable archway marked both the start and finish of the races, which were a block away from each other. Our hotel was about a block away from both, making changing wet clothes between future races easy to do. Inspirational music was appropriately loud at the start, and the race began just a few minutes late. All the races would finish at the same point (a delightful little traffic circle) where food and drink were plentiful. Throughout our five race experience we partook in cinnamon bread, bagels, granola bars, croissants, oranges, bananas, pizza, chili, sports drinks, water, and more. Complimentary beer was also available for adults.
With all the major distances behind us, at this point we were confident that we'd make it through all 26.2 miles. The next race started on the beach, a welcome break from road running. Fortunately for us, the tide was out and we ran this one on almost all hard-packed sand. (We had heard from runners of the previous year's race who had to run at near high tide. They said the 2.8 miles on the beach were the hardest part of the whole experience!) At the end of the race we ran up a sand dune, and finished under the same archway as all the other races. The photographers took particularly excellent photos here! Both of us ran this race a little slower than the previous night's 5K, but we were feeling the adrenaline of the whole experience, so weren't bothered by our slower speeds at all.
At this point we knew had the whole thing "in the bag." The only race left was the 1 mile fun run. The rain having mostly let up meant more fans along the start and finish of the 1 mile fun run and the 2.8 mile beach run. Additionally, the 1 mile distance allowed bunches of kids to experience the Critz Tybee Run Fest.
The entire experience concluded with a sparsely attended awards ceremony for overall finishers (we blame the weather). We stuck around because Justin finished all five races in just under 3 hours, earning him 2nd place in his age group and his 3rd age group award of the day.
Medal count- Justin: 5 (2 finisher, 3 age group) Julie: 2 (2 finisher)
Final verdict: This was a great race experience. We recommend everyone try it at some point!
Tips for a great Critz experience:
1. Stay at the host hotel. It is super convenient to the start and finish and its convenience can't be beat!
2. If you are running all five races, pack five sets of clothes and extra shoes. It poured on race day for us and we were glad to be able to change after each race.
3. Make sure you have trained yourself to be able to run all day. It will ensure your success!
For more information on this race visit the Critz Tybee Run Fest website at: http://www.critztybeerun.com/