Packet pickup was held in downtown Summerville all day on Friday, the day before the race. It was an unusually cold weekend in coastal SC, so the outdoor packet pickup made for a chilly day for the few vendors. Runners also had the option to pick up their bibs and shirts the morning of the race. Our friend Rosemary picked ours up for us on Friday, allowing us to get bibs pinned on the night before the race. Race shirts were tasteful, gray, long sleeve tech shirts that were available in both men's and women's sizes. On race morning a Sweet Tea volunteer was cheerily trading out shirts for anyone who found theirs to be ill-fitting.
Accommodations & Places to Eat
This being a local race meant that we had the luxury of spending the night in our home, though our house has noisy, attention seeking cats, whereas a Choice Hotel generally does not. In all honesty, we looked into hotels for the race as we were concerned about the 45 minute drive for a 7 am race start. The closest options were local bed & breakfasts, while chain hotels could be found in abundance closer to the interstate (about five miles away).
Runners were encouraged to patronize local businesses following the race. As it was a cold morning we twice visited the Single Smile Cafe (which conveniently opened at 7:30 am) for hot beverages on a cold morning. The course started and ended in picturesque downtown Summerville, so runners had plenty of options for walking to any downtown restaurants. Chain restaurants like Panera, Cracker Barrel, and Mellow Mushroom were located a short car ride from the course.
The Sweet Tea Half Marathon course was relatively flat and surely saw many PR's on race day. Aid stations were available every two miles. Though there were many turns along the course, each one was manned by vocal volunteers who made sure runners were headed in the right direction. Additionally, the course was clearly marked by dozens of giant white arrows guiding runners towards the finish line.
While spectators weren't plentiful, those that were in attendance were some of the friendliest and most vocal of the races we've run. Many held personalized signs for friends and family members running the race. Aid stations were located approximately every two miles and all offered runners water (with the exception of one rogue, unofficial station which was reportedly doling out beer to of-age participants).
Runners finished right in downtown Summerville, and after crossing the finish line volunteers draped tasteful sweet tea finisher medals around runners' necks. Post-race festivities were held near the finish where some streets were closed so runners could hang out and chow down on bananas, bagels, and an impressive assortment of delicious pastries. A live band started playing music shortly around Justin's finish and entertained everyone until the awards ceremony at 10:00. Overall awards were generous, and since Justin was the third male finisher, he reaped the rewards of Summervillian generosity. He left the race with a free pint glass and having earned enough money to pay for his entry and some of mine.
If you are a local, this race is a must-do. Sign up for the nice race shirt, the enthusiasm of the fans, and the efficiency with which the race is run.
Tips for a Successful Sweet Tea Half Marathon
- This race made everything so easy for everyone that it would be hard even for doofuses like us to mess it up. There's not much runners need to do to prepare for this race, other than be ready to run 13.1 miles.
- Be prepared for any type of weather. This inaugural event was held on a morning that saw 35 degree temperatures (approximately 15 degrees below average) with a biting wind, while the Thursday before the race temperatures were in the seventies. We hadn't seen such cold conditions since the previous January or February.