Favorable circumstances made running Race 13.1 a possibility for us, and since we're not runners who turn down the opportunity to run a half marathon, we found ourselves in Evans, GA for Sunday morning's race.
Runners had the option of picking up race packets at Fleet Feet Sports in Augusta anytime between 11 am and 5 pm on the Saturday before the race. We've run three Race 13.1 events and haven't yet made it to one of their packet pickups. We love that picking up packets on race morning is an option, and we rolled in 24 minutes before race start to retrieve ours. We were technically late for morning packet pickup which lasted from 5:30 am to 6:30 am, but Race 13.1 has always tolerated our lack of punctuality, making it possible for us to run regardless. We grabbed what may be the best race shirts ever (see photo) and our bibs and managed to use the restrooms before the race began at 7. We applaud Race 13.1 for being the only smaller half marathon we've run to take advantage of the race location's on-site restrooms. Too often indoor restrooms are closed and runners are stuck in long lines for port-o-lets. Not here!
The closest we could get to the race start was 11 minutes away. Since parking is always easy at Race 13.1 events, we weren't worried about the drive and booked a night at the Comfort Inn on Jimmie Dyess Parkway. Other local hotel options were plentiful; located just next to the Comfort Inn were a Quality Inn, Hampton Inn, and Wingate Inn.
Places to Eat
Augusta is overflowing with places to eat, and you can take your pick from all the usual chain restaurants. We only ate out once during our stay, and it was on our way to Fleet Feet Augusta to spend Justin's age group award. Having heard rave reviews of Zoe's Kitchen, we stopped there first only to find it was so new it hadn't yet officially opened. We settled for Jason's Deli, which was located in the same shopping center. This was our first visit to a Jason's, and we would recommend it to other runners. The menu is fairly extensive, resulting in options for anyone in your party. We liked that all patrons on Sunday could partake in free ice cream which hit the spot for us after running 13.1 miles.
Even though we signed up for Race 13.1 Evans a week prior to running, we did our research and watched the course video posted on the event website. We knew it would be a challenge, especially when the video's narrator mentioned the rolling hills and the net incline for the second half of the race. What we weren't prepared for was how picturesque the course was. While the narrator mentioned this as well, we didn't quite believe that a suburban half marathon could have such pleasant scenery. We cruised along rolling hills lined with charming homes during the first half of the race, which occurred largely on the wide, paved path along Evans to Locks Road. We felt almost rewarded at mile 6 when the course took us along the Augusta Canal Trail. With the Savannah River on one side of the path and canal on the other, this was the kind of place any runner would be lucky to run every day. After turning around at the halfway mark, the course grew more challenging, especially running up the steep hill at the Savannah Rapids Pavillon. Many of us struggled with the aforementioned net incline for the 6+ miles back to the start. Fortunately, volunteers were on hand approximately every 1.5 miles to refuel us with Gatorade or hydrate us with generously filled cups of water. Additionally, intersections were manned with volunteers and/or police officers ensuring that runners had the right of way over cars. Some dedicated spectators were out cheering on loved ones, and the rest of us as well. Due to the out-and-back nature of the course, runners were able to cheer each other on in passing. The title of nicest half marathon winner ever goes to the victor of this race, who managed to run a tough course in just under 70 minutes AND acknowledge other runners as he sped towards to the finish.
The course began and ended at Evans Town Center Park, where parking was plentiful and there was plenty of room for runners to stretch out in the grass, post-race.
We don't participate in many races that offer soda to runners at their post-race parties, so after seeing cases of it unloaded at the start, I spent much of my 13.1 mile run imagining the carbonated joy of an ice cold Cherry Coke. Post-race, runners could partake in pizza, Caveman bars (Justin's new favorite bar), a large assortment of single serving size bags of chips (including Baked Lays, which we love), and the usual bananas. Sadly there was no ice on hand, so my ice cold Cherry Coke was a warm one.
The awards ceremony at this race recognized the top three male and female runners only, making it a quick experience. Runners like Justin, who placed in their age groups, claimed their Fleet Feet gift certificate awards at the Race 13.1 customer service table. We hung out longer because one of the things we love about Race 13.1 is the random prize drawing at the end. Very few runners lingered here for the opportunity to win one of the three prizes. Because runners must be present when their bib number is called, three lucky women had an advantage and left with memberships to Anytime Fitness and Orange Theory Fitness.
Fleet Feet and Orange Theory Fitness shared tables with Race 13.1 customer service in the modestly sized athlete village. Fleet Feet was doling out cold cups of Skratch and a variety of cookies, while Orange Theory was giving away free orange towels, just big enough to wipe away the sweat of a 13.1 mile race.
If you are an Augusta local, Race 13.1 Evans is a good little race to run. Likely, you'll be used to the area's rolling hills and may not be as daunted by them as we were. A race experience here will earn you one of the best t-shirts around and a finisher medal to match. Both your shirt and medal will proclaim to the world "It's all good," and it will be... once you get through the challenging final 6 miles of the race.
Tips for Running a Successful Race 13.1 Evans
- Do some hill training when you are tired (maybe the day after a long run). This will prepare you for the net incline in the final miles of the race.
- Carry your own energy gels as none are offered on the course.
For more information visit https://race131.com/races/Race-13-1-Evans-GA.