Race Report: Kiawah Island Marathon #runconnected

By: Trey Brush

I consider myself very blessed.  This past weekend at the Kiawah Island Marathon I crossed the finish line of the marathon distance for the 15th time.  That is not the reason for considering myself blessed.  I feel blessed because for the 11th time I have had the chance to #runconnected.

#runconnected?  “What are you talking about?” you might say?  We will get there.  First, to the race.

This is the second year in a row I have had the opportunity to run the Kiawah Island Marathon.

Where is it?

The is the most common question I get.  Many times I am asked if it is in Hawaii!  Kiawah is about 30 minutes outside of Charleston SC.  Kiawah has been the home to the Ryder Cup and the 2012 PGA Championship.  The golf courses on Kiawah are just beautiful.  (Just bring plenty of balls)

What about the Expo?

This is not a big race so don’t expect it in the expo.  If you are a local, expect plenty of good opportunities to pick up your number.  The expo will not overwhelm you.

What size is the race?

The race is actually is a good size.  I have run some small marathons in my day, even races with less than 150 runners in the event.  The marathon will draw a crowd of just over 1,000 runners with another probably 3,000 half marathon runners.  You can expect a pretty crowded start to the race and until the race distances split at about the 11-12 mile mark it will be pretty crowded for you.  Once the course splits you get a different feeling but you still see a good number of runners.

What challenges does the course bring?

The course is flat.  You will find 2 very small hills which really are nothing to mention.  However, the challenge of the course is mental.  A few years ago the course did 2 loops.  I hate those types of races.  They have since changed the course and now you run all over the island.  Because of that, it does bring another challenge.  There are quite a few number of out and back turnarounds on the course.  The toughest of these comes between miles 15-20.  This is the longest of the out and backs and it comes at a tough time of the race.  There is some good news that comes with these, you actually see more runners this way.  You also sense when your turnaround is getting closer as you see the pace groups getting closer to your time. 

I did read where they suggest you not feed or irritate the alligators.  (I guess that would be another challenge if you did not bother to listen to those instructions!)

Is there much to see on course?

YES!  The course is beautiful.  Between the golf courses, the waterways, beautiful houses and the incredible oak trees shading the roads you always have something to admire.  This just might be one of the most scenic courses I have run.

Is it worth the trip to run it?

Yes.  I love this race and would do it again.  The race is a pleasant surprise.  It draws a good size field, a surprising number of supporters and great volunteers.  I would also run it again just to eat and reward myself with the chicken and waffles again at the Early Bird Diner in Charleston after the race!

So back to #runconnected

I have run 4 marathons where I was there all alone.  Nobody to run with and nobody waiting for me at the finish line.  I was always happy with the accomplishment but it always felt just a little empty.  There is nothing quite like running the race with friends of family or knowing you have somebody waiting at the finish line.  Hearing from others, “job well done” means so much.  Running is a sport where many of us spend a lot of time alone.  We might train alone and run many times by ourselves.  I would highly encourage you to not race alone.  We are people that feed off of each other.  There is something very special after 26.2 miles about seeing a friendly face.

I can tell you by my experience, it is better to #runconnected