We’ve traveled more than 800 miles to run a Race 13.1 event. Fortunately, we didn’t have to travel very far to this race as it was held in our hometown of Charleston, SC. The event took place on Halloween and had the added allure of a costume contest, where the top getup would earn a runner $1,000. While one of us would almost certainly earn glory via an age group award, the other one tried her hand at running in costume. Though we earned no cash prize at the event, we left with both the satisfaction of running a good race and the comradery of having joined other die-hard costumed racers.
Packet pickup was held at the SC Blue store in Mt. Pleasant, SC from 2:30-7:30 on the night before the race. Runners could also pick up packets on race morning between 6:30 and 7:30 am. Race swag for this event included a reusable drawstring bag, gender-specific technical shirt, and some goodies from SC Blue. For those from out of town who are running this race, be aware that SC Blue store is more than 30 minutes from the site of the event start.
If you want to be able to walk to the race start, there is only one hotel option for you. Because the event was held in Middleton Woods, it is right across the street from Middleton Plantation and its Inn at Middleton Place. Rooms here will run you just under $200. For hotels easier on the wallet, stay somewhere in West Ashley. Because race parking was plentiful and easy, consider a stay Comfort Suites of West Ashley or Hampton Inn & Suites of Charleston/West Ashley. Both about 11 miles from the race start.
Places to Eat
Charlestonians love their local food, so do your best to eat at a local restaurant and experience the culinary delights the city has to offer. Downtown is overflowing with options for dining, and it would be nearly impossible to list all of the delicious places to eat in one moderately sized blog post (and Trip Advisor has already done it: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurants-g54171-Charleston_South_Carolina.html).
If you are staying at either of the West Ashley hotels mentioned above, consider stopping off at Boxcar Betty’s, which serves up fried chicken sandwiches in ways that satisfy everyone's taste buds. If you are willing to travel a little further down Highway 17, consider heading to the trendy Avondale neighborhood where you’ll find a great selection of bars and restaurants, all within walking distance of each other. You can carb load at Al Di La, nourish yourself with the tastiest salad ever at Verde, or choose from a variety of appetizing menu items at Triangle Char-n-Bar.
This half marathon was a trail race that took runners on a mixture of grass, hard-packed trails (and some mildly muddy ones thanks to some rain earlier in the week) at Middleton Woods. The runners’ village was a short walk from parking, and contained plenty of pre-race port-o-lets, inspirational music, and costumed runners waiting for the race to begin. While the nature of this event made fan support along the course nearly impossible, the aid stations nearly made up for this. The Charleston chapter of Black Girls Run was manning a water station or two, and they were so enthusiastic and generous with their support, we were convinced at multiple points along the race that we were approaching the finish area.
The figure eight course eventually led us back to the runners’ village where the start was converted to a finish line. Because the 5k and 10K started about 15 minutes after the half marathon, many of these runners hung around to cheer on half marathoners at their finishes, making this area the most spirited and energetic part of the event. A photographer was on hand to capture the final moments of the race, while volunteers distributed water and finisher medals.
A Halloween race made for a particularly entertaining post-race party. In addition to the usual excitement over who would be receiving race awards, there was the added anticipation of the costume contest. In between cheering on 5K award winners and enjoying the half marathon awards ceremony about an hour later, there was much to entertain runners and spectators. Most entertaining was the people watching. The race brought out characters like Pinhead, Alan (from The Hangover movies), an entire deck of cards, Pac-Man, a WWE wrestler, a Roman gladiator, Alice Cooper for President, and a host of other memorable costumes.
Anyone with a race bib who was over 21 could partake in two beers from Sam Adams. All runners could chow down on post-race pizza, bananas, and snack bars. And, if the people-watching wasn’t enough entertainment, Blue Cross Blue Shield offered everyone the chance to play Plinko and win one of a variety of goodies.
Race 13.1 consistently delivers a big race experience in a smaller package. With this race, they managed to do it out on the trails, and in costume.
Tips for Running a Successful Race 13.1 Charleston
- Do some training on trails to prepare you for the uneven terrain of this course.
- Wear shoes that aren’t new. Odds are, they will get a little muddy, even on a dry day.
- Consider wearing a costume. While trail running can be difficult, it’s hard to feel too much pain when one is dressed like a minion or a character from The Hunger Games.