While Hilton Head Island is a lovely place to visit during the summer, it wasn’t necessarily on my ‘must do’ list for mid- February. However, South Carolina was a state that I still needed, and there isn’t a huge selection of races during this time of year. The online reviews for the Hilton Head Marathon were tepid at best, but the course looked doable, and I’m not looking for the most amazing race experience ever in this state, so I decided to check it out.
I flew into the Hilton Head Island Airport, which is the cutest little airport ever. Getting a rental car and finding my hotel was also painless. Devoid of summer crowds, this is a pretty easy town to navigate. I stayed at the host hotel, the Sonesta, which was lovely. It was obviously too chilly to enjoy the pool or beach, but the amenities would be very nice during warmer months. After getting my packet and settling in, I met my husband’s aunt Alice for dinner and had a nice evening catching up with her.
On race morning, I had to drive to the start line from my hotel. By the time I arrived most of the ‘good’ parking had already been taken. I walked about a half mile to the race– and then, sadly, back again once I’d finished. This is not a large marathon, so there were no problems with crowds in the corrals. And at roughly 200 participants, I could at least see people on the course at all times.
Hilton Head had the potential to be a very picturesque course, but unfortunately, it really wasn’t. We did no running near the water and instead stuck to the local highways. We ran through some nice parks and pretty-ish parts of town, but nothing about the route was particularly memorable. The marathon was predominately flat, but due to the numerous out and backs, we had to cross the same steep bridge four different times. (I gave up and started walking it midway through uphill #3.) While the weather stayed relatively cool, South Carolina is a very humid state, and I was not prepared for this on race day.
After finishing my run, I can say that I agree with the reviews: this marathon was just fine, but nothing spectacular. The course was ok, but it wasn’t nearly as pretty as I would expect a Hilton Head Island marathon to be. I didn’t run a particularly fast time, but I blame that on the hill that we had to keep repeating as well as the humidity. On the other hand, this wasn’t a particularly difficult course, and I was the sixth woman across the finish line in a race that I didn’t really give my all in. I’m not disappointed that I ran Hilton Head, but it’s not a race that I would do again.
** Race Highlights: The views of the water (when we were lucky enough to get them!)
** The Downside: The bridges.
Sub 4:00 State #25, BQ State #24
Finish Time: 3:34:32
Overall Place Within My Gender: 6/ 88 (1st in my age group)
Total Training Miles: 5,395.3
Shoe Total: 18