The race expo was held at Burke High School in downtown Charleston from 11 am to 8 pm on the Friday before the race. We had to rush through the expo to get to the Charleston Youth Marathon (an event designed to promote health and fitness among local kids) at 3:30, so we missed out on perusing the expo at our leisure. We do know that our favorite local running store, Fleet Feet Sports of Mt. Pleasant had a booth, along with a dozen or so other vendors.
Lucky for us, the packet pick-up process was quick and easy. Race bibs were picked up on one side of the Burke gymnasium and long sleeved technical t-shirts picked up from the other side. The women’s shirts were rumored to be running very small, but having learned my lesson at the last two half marathons with long sleeved shirts, I gambled on a men’s medium. While it’s not fitted, the sleeves are long enough for anyone 5’9” and taller, while the women’s sleeves apparently run too short for anyone over 5’5”. We’ll both get a lot of use out of our new, attractive and lightweight running shirts and be proud to show off their local flair when we travel to other races.
Of note, anyone not registered for the race could do so at the expo. Also, it was very easy for one of us to transfer from running the full marathon to the half marathon. It only took about 10 minutes for individuals working at the expo to make this change for us.
Anyone requiring a hotel room for this race who likes to be within walking distance to the start should stay at the Charleston Marriott at 170 Lockwood Blvd. While this hotel won’t put you in the middle of the best parts of downtown Charleston, you will be able to roll right out of bed in the morning and walk to the race start. Anyone who wants to stay in Charleston and experience King and Market Streets (where there’s lots of good shopping and dining) can consider a number of other hotels that partner with the race (along with the Marriott). All hotels affiliated with the race donate $5 to the Youth Endowment for the Arts, the race’s beneficiary charity. Visit http://charlestonmarathon.com/participant-info/hotels/ for a list of hotels associated with the race.
Places to Eat
Charleston is a city for foodies, so if you want to eat good food before or after a race, the Charleston Marathon is one to run. 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). Our personal favorite place to eat downtown is Hominy Grill, where you can get a great post-race lunch.
If you are staying downtown, you won’t find an Olive Garden or a Carraba’s. Eat local!
At the race’s finish in Park Circle, North Charleston, runners can eat at a number of restaurants, many of which have outdoor seating with a view of the post-race festivities: Sesame, EVO Pizza, The Barbeque Joint, and more.
Course & Fan Support
This point to point course begins at Burke High School in downtown Charleston, and from there takes runners through some of the prettiest parts of the city. Runners will get views of the Charleston Harbor as they run along the Battery and race through one of the prettiest places in the world to shop: King Street. After six miles in downtown Charleston where there is decent crowd support, runners enter “The Neck” area, so known because it connects Charleston to North Charleston. The Neck is mostly industrial, with a spattering of tattoo parlors and a few other more notorious establishments. Fan support is more limited here. The race progresses into the old Navy Yard (where episodes of the TV show “Army Wives” were filmed). Runners will get a view of the Cooper River just before exiting this area for the final 1.5 miles of the race. The course ends in Park Circle, a revitalized section of North Charleston where there will be hundreds of people cheering on race finishers for the final .2 miles of the race.
Aid stations with water and Gatorade were located approximately every two miles and each contained plenty of volunteers to hand drinks to runners that needed them. Additionally, local school bands (many of which are benefited by the proceeds of this race) were stationed along the course providing runners with some musical entertainment.
One huge perk of this race is that it starts at a high school, which is open to provide indoor restrooms (in addition to the port-o-lets) close to the starting line. This made for minimal lines even 10 minutes before the race start. The event also ended at a high school, and this one's locker room was open to runners, allowing them the option to shower and use flushing toilets at the finish.
Of note: it was determined that due to a wrong turn by the lead vehicle, the 2015 Charleston Marathon and Half Marathon courses were .1918 miles too long. To resolve the issue, race organizers adjusted finishers' times so that results now include gun time, chip time, and official time. The official time is each runner's time adjusted to a true 13.1 mile course. For example, Justin's chip time was 1:29:05. His official time was adjusted to 1:27:51. Both of our GPS devices (and our runner's intuition) tell us we were faster than official time indicated, but this was not a big deal for either of us as we were not attempting to PR or qualify for another race. Of greater concern is that Charleston is a Boston qualifying course. Charleston's course length and recent time adjustments may have had a dramatic impact on whether or not runners met their BQ standards.
The Charleston Marathon has one of the best post-race parties around in one of the prettiest settings. Park Circle is the perfect host to weary runners ready for free beer, shrimp & grits, and all the other usual post-race food and drink. The main street was closed to cars so runners could comfortably hang out in the street and enjoy the many vendors lined up along E. Montague Ave. A live band was busy entertaining most of the adults while kids were lined up for an American Gladiators style bounce house.
If you want a tour of Charleston by foot, this race provides it. While “The Neck” isn’t the prettiest part of Charleston, it’s part of Charleston, nonetheless, and you will see it in stark contrast to the stately beauty of downtown. For anyone visiting from colder parts of the world, a weekend in Charleston could be a warm alternative to whatever weather is happening at home. Runners from Chicago would likely laugh in the face of a chilly South Carolina weekend, but locals know that MLK weekend, the traditional race weekend for this event, is often the coldest of the year.
Tips for Running a Successful Charleston Half Marathon
- Be prepared for any kind of weather. Charleston in January can get as warm as sixty degrees, but a recent cold snap had us at eighteen degrees at race time a mere week before the marathon.
- Take some time to enjoy the city of Charleston. In our opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. If you don’t believe us, believe Conde Nast travel magazine who ranked Charleston as the number one city in the United States, and second only to Florence, Italy, in the world.
For more information about the Charleston Half Marathon visit