- 3 miles/5K, 13.1/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Other, Relay
- Road Race
I ran the inaugural RnR Savannah in 2011, in 2012, and again this year (2015). Some situations related to my “Overall” 3 out of 5 star rating for the quality of this year’s run were out of RnR’s control.
Firstly, the weather was less than ideal. When I ran in 2011, the forecasted temp dropped a few degrees each day the week prior to the run. By the morning of the run, it was in the mid 30s and windy. 2012 had nice running weather (50s-60s). This year the forecasted temps kept rising a few degrees each day prior to the run. By the time the run started, it was in the low 70s (F) with 98-99% humidity. It was very foggy upon starting, but the sun began peeking through the fog about 1 hour into the run, and the heat index skyrocketed. By 9:45am, officials had to cancel the full marathon and re-route the remaining runners to the half marathon course. The temps were approaching 80 by this time (still with high humidity). Multiple runners were collapsing on the course. Sadly, one 35 year old half marathon participant could not be revived (this was confirmed by local news reports and online news reports).
I was impressed with RnR for sending all participants a “Heat Advisory” email the day before the run. It included warnings about the expected temps & humidity, along with tips for staying cooler and better hydrated.
Another negative for me (and other participants that I have spoken with) is that the convention center where the expo is held is located across the river from the downtown area. Again, this is probably a situation that is out of RnRs control since there might not be an appropriate facility for the expo within the city. The choices to get over to the expo are to ride a ferry, which runs approximately every 15 minutes, or a drive across the bridge. Each time I have attended, the line for the ferries becomes very long (especially the day before the run) and traffic on the bridge is almost at a stand still. Once arriving at the expo, it has always been well organized with many vendors available. Plenty of staff and volunteers have been visible and packet pick up lines have been pretty average. I lucked up this year and was able to get immediately onto a ferry after the expo, but as we were pulling away, the line for the next one was wrapping along the river.
The run is scheduled to begin at 7am. This year, it was unexpectedly delayed until around 7:15. The reason given as we waited in the corrals was that one of the aid stations was not ready. I was starting in corral 1, and the tension of the runners was becoming greater and greater with each passing minute after 7am. It was unfortunate to have a late start when the temps were already predicted to be so high. The corals toward the front were very easy to access with entrances on both sides of the street. I spoke with friends who began in corral 13. They said that the corral was overly crowded which made starting difficult with so many people bunched together.
I was averaging close to a PR pace for the first 10 miles, but then the sun broke through the clouds. It was as if I ran into a concrete wall! The heat and humidity became almost unbearable at that point. Luckily, volunteers were handing out iced towels around mile 11. I really think that is the only thing that got me to the 13.1 finish line! I still had a decent finish time of 1:37:02, but it was way off mark from my pace for the first 10 miles. For once, I did not over-analyze and scrutinize my finish time...I was just happy to have finished!
The friends who started in corral 13 said that many of the water stations (located every 2 miles) were out of cups by the time they were running by. If they wanted water, they had to cup it into their hands. The volunteers had also ran out of the iced towels at the 11 mile point by the time they were running by.
Some positives about this run:
It is a relatively level course. There are a few steady inclines, but no extreme elevation changes. The finish area is located at Forsyth Park which is one of Savannah’s most picturesque parks. The area is spacious and many volunteers are on hand giving out an assortment of recovery food and drinks. This year, they were also giving out more iced towels. Fortunately, they had plenty for everyone at the finish.
Savannah is a beautiful city that is easy to navigate by foot, bicycle, or car. The city has installed rental bike stations which make it even more navigable. There are plenty of unique restaurants ranging from casual dining to fine dining. The locals are friendly and supportive of the race participants.