The Morris Island Lighthouse, just off the coast of Folly Beach, SC, may have been lost to the sea years ago were it not for the Save the Light organization. The half marathon is one of a number of fundraising events for which the proceeds go to further preserve the landmark. It is for this reason and a few others that the Save the Light Half Marathon is an event worth running.
Early packet pickup is held at the Tides Hotel on Folly Beach the Friday before the race. One small banquet room is reserved for runners to pick up their Save the Light Half Marathon shirts and bibs. One of the neat things about this race is that each year a poster is included with race registration that features artwork or a photograph related to the lighthouse. We matted and framed our poster from the 2013 race and it’s been hanging in our house ever since.
The Tides Hotel is the only major hotel on Folly Beach, a town where people typically stay in vacation rentals. Runners from out of town (or locals who just wanted to spend a night at the beach) could take advantage of the special race rate of $99 on Friday and/or Saturday night.
Places to Eat
The Tides also hosts a pasta dinner for runners and their family members on the night before the race. For $13.95 runners can fuel up on pasta, salad, fruit, and dessert, and do some pre-race socializing.
Folly Beach is also host to a number of bars and restaurants. If you’re willing to brave Mexican food the night before the race, we recommend giving Taco Boy a try. Brunch might be the best meal to eat on Folly, so consider dining post-race at either Rita’s or the Lost Dog Café.
Course and Fan Support
Folly Beach is known for its laid back vibe, and the Save the Light Half Marathon was a Folly Beach kind of event. A number of people ran the half marathon with their dogs, and there were a number of bicyclists out there following the course with friends or family members. After running many larger, stricter events, it was great to be part of a race that wasn’t too uptight about things.
The prettiest part of the course takes runners along the Atlantic Ocean, past “The Washout” (a popular location with local surfers) and as close to the Morris Island Lighthouse as is possible during a running event. When you literally reach the end of the road, you’ll turn around an orange traffic cone and follow the route on which you came in, and run back along Ashley Avenue.
This is a small race, so the few spectators along the course are out cheering for someone they know. With that being said, the finish line was packed with a sizable crowd by the time I arrived, so there was some great crowd support to get runners through that final kick.
Aid stations with water and Gatorade were located approximately every 2.5 miles along the course.
Save the Light provided runners with all the usual post-race food and drink: bagels, bananas, water, etc. While there was no true post-race party, the fastest runners of the bunch did convene back inside the Tides two and a half hours after the race start for the awards ceremony. Age group winners were awarded with mugs featuring the year’s poster art.
This race is a bargain. For $45 runners are given entry to the race, a long sleeve cotton t-shirt, poster, and finisher medal. It’s rare that an event provide runners with so much for so little. We recommend running this race for its bargain price, for the great cause it supports, and for its laid-back Folly Beach vibe.
For more information visit www.savethelight.org.