Why I ran. Comments on the Critz Tybee Run Fest Jan 31 2014.

The race: Critz Tybee Run Fest, Jan. 31-Feb. 1.
The place: Tybee Island, Ga.
My entry fee: $120 for all five events, which include a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, 2.8-mile beach run, and 1-mile fun run. The individual races range from $25 to $65 depending on distance, or you can get a package deal on all five.
About the race: “This is a really unique running event that takes place over two days on the easternmost point of Georgia, also a barrier island, just outside Savannah called Tybee Island. Tybee Island is a relaxing coastal getaway, which is a popular tourist spot for those in and around the Savannah metro area. This time of year, however, is their off-season, which makes for little to no crowds aside from the race crowd, a nice change from the summer beach rush. The Tybee Run Fest includes five mostly road-running events, four of which are back-to-back, kicking off with a well-lighted 5K Friday evening through historic and scenic coastal neighborhoods. Then, Saturday morning commences with a 7 a.m.-sharp 10K, quickly followed by ahalf-marathon that runs through neighborhoods, alongside marshes, past the lighthouse and historic areas nearby,and then uses the 10K course as its last 6 miles. You have about 3.5 hours to finish the half-marathon if you wish to run the2.8-mile beach run, which is an out-an-back course and, as the name implies, run on the beaches of Tybee Island. At 1 p.m. is the culminating event, the YMCA 1-mile fun run, which is woven through adjacent neighborhoods and is a nice way to cool down after the previous races. The event is similar to a small-scale stage-running event, and if you plan it right, you can check bags and make time to change clothes in between races, something I highly recommend if the weather calls for rain. In completing all five events, you will have run a full marathon! You get a medal for completing the 1-mile fun run (something the kids absolutely love!), another for the half-marathon, and one more for completing all five events. This running event is fantastic because no matter where you are in your running or your training, there is an event for everybody. This is a great family-friendly event, and every race (even the half-marathon and the beach run) was stroller-friendly! I saw two moms complete all five events while pushing baby joggers, and runners and walkers of just about all ages, from toddler to mid-80s!”
Why I went: “A beach getaway in the middle of North Carolina winter? Yes, please! My dad and brother read about this race and thought it would make an awesome family vacation, and since we only see each other a few times a year, and we are all avid runners, we try to plan our visits and vacations around races wherever we go (and usually wherever we go is determined solely because of a race!). We also have a marathon coming up in March, so we figured this would be great practice for the big 26.2 – since, essentially, it is 26.2, with just a few breaks in between. We also enjoy visiting beach locations in their off-seasons. It’s nice to experience a beautiful place such as this without all the crowds and touristy influences, because you can capture the raw essence of the place and have a better chance at connecting with the locals and learning more about it from their perspective. We enjoy supporting smaller, local economies during their off-peak seasons because that’s when they need it most. So it’s really a win-win for everybody! It’s also very close to Savannah, another fantastic place to visit, so that made for a couple of great day trips while we were in the area. Also, the local art scenes and fresh local seafood in both Savannah and Tybee really spice things up!”
Plus: “Tybee Island is a beautiful barrier island, surrounded by water on its eastern and western coasts, which means you have the opportunity to see a sunrise on the ocean and a sunset on the marshes along the Intracoastal Waterway – the best of both! Tybee Island has a lot of history and many sights to see, much of which you pass while running one or all of the races. Most of the island’s sights and restaurants are within close proximity of each other as well as the races’ start and finish locations. Lighthouse Pizza was one sponsor of the race and was there dishing out free, hot slices in between all the races, and what could be better than pizza after a hard day’s run?! The post-race grub was also plentiful, and they even let the kids and family members who didn’t run, in on the goods. There was also free beer, a perk I always look forward to! The long-sleeved cotton race T’s were designed by a local artist who won a contest they held for best race logo, another neat aspect of the event. The event is widely supported by friendly locals and is sponsored by great local businesses, is put on by Savannah-owned Fleet Feet, and is nowhere near lacking in freebies for its participants. And if that isn’t enough to win you over, all race/event surplus funds are contributed every year to the Critz Tybee Run Scholarship, which is then used to provide scholarships to Tybee, Low Country and Savannah community organizations to foster the spirit of health and education.”
Minus: “The only downside to this event was the rain accompanied by lower-than-normal temperatures (high 40s-mid 50s), but even that wasn’t enough to put a damper on the fun and festivities. It only rained during the 10K and part of the half, and then subsided for the rest of the day. However, running such long distances in rain made for a few unprecedented blisters, and a slightly painful barefoot beach run (though I had no choice because once I saw the blisters, I knew there was no getting those shoes back on!)”
A final thought: “I would definitely participate in this event again. It was a fantastic experience, one shared by the whole family. A lot of the races we do are spectator events for the rest of the family and friends who accompany us, but this one got us all out there together, and even my sister and my 3-year-old participated in the 1-mile fun run with us (by that point I was walking – remember, blisters). Tybee Island is a wonderful place to enjoy in any season I’m sure, and the locals are really welcoming. Overall, a truly enjoyable experience, from start to finish, (and start to finish, and start to finish, and… well, you get the idea!)”

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