Sunday, February 26, 2023

Jekyll Island Half Marathon race report


When I plan trips to races, I often look at holiday weekends -- even for a long trip, getting an extra day off helps. So I had originally heard about the Jekyll Island Marathon in late 2021 and considered it for 2022 as it's always on MLK weekend. But I didn't get my act together in time... which turned out to be a good thing, because the race had to be cancelled at the last minute because a storm damaged a lot of trees on the course. 

When I started planning this trip, I proposed a long weekend in Georgia and then home. Wil said, "If we're going that far, why wouldn't we spend time at Disney World?" He gets me, you see. 

We flew to Jacksonville, Florida, stayed one night near the airport, and then picked up a rental car and drove up to Jekyll Island. 

We checked in to our hotel, then walked over to pick up our race packets. There were a couple of Maniacs there, and a 50 Stater or two, which is always nice. The next morning we were up with the sun, literally:

We walked the short distance to the race start, and joined the shivering throng. See, it was really cold -- AGAIN. We listened to the course talk -- a LOT of directions and we just hoped the course would be well marked. Happy to say that it was!

We would be running out along the main road to the northern end of the island and a little ways back, then turning on to one of the many bike paths and making our way back to the finish.

The course -- well, the entire island, really -- was flat as a pancake. But it was also very, very pretty. We knew that we wouldn't run much -- I think we ran the first mile before setting in to a brisk walk. It was a really pretty, mellow morning. 

Though the roads weren't fully closed, there was very little traffic that early on a Sunday morning. 

Not knowing the island -- and not really knowing the map, it came as something of a surprise when we turned off the road and onto the bike path.  This is when this race got really, really pretty. 

At the 7 mile mark we turned left toward the Clam Creek Picnic Area, heading to the northern edge of the island. You can just see the fishing pier to the left as we turned to head to the northernmost point. 

Along the way we hit an area where dunes were encroaching on the trail -- so as always we laughed that it was a trail run. 

Eventually we turned south, getting back on the road -- well, this time, the sidewalk -- for a few miles. We were really just walking steadily at this point, and had that weird experience of passing people who were run/walking. We'd catch up with someone walking, they would start running for a few yards, and then we would catch up to them again when they started walking. After 3 or 4 times, they would often just "give up" and fall behind us. 

After a while we reached the bike path along the shore line. I was happy to be almost done because my knee was bothering me a little. 

The finish line was in a grassy area by the shops "downtown" -- with a nice finish chute and arch. As usual, we held hands and took off running. Always nice to finish strong, eh?

The announcer even gave us a shout out for coming from so far away. 

We milled around a bit, snacking on crisps, chugging water, and cheering for other finishers. We thought about getting a drink at the nearby pub, but they didn't open when the sign said they would so we went to the market, picked up a couple of drinks, and headed back to our lovely hotel. 

It wasn't a great performance -- we strolled most of it -- but it was a really nice way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday morning, and, of course, to pick up state number 43!

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