Big Beach Marathon; Jan. 31, 2016; Gulf Shores, AL
Lifetime Marathon #30, Alabama Marathon #2
Last weekend I ran my 30th marathon! It was a last minute addition to my schedule, I got a message that they were looking for a few people to fill the pace team & 5 days later I was on the road to the beach. I left my house at 4 a.m. Sunday morning and made the the 2 and a half hour drive to Gulf Shores, Alabama. We arrived at the race site just after 6:30 and I was able to pick up my race packet quickly without problems and met up with the pace team to leader to get my shirt and sign and I met up with a few Maniac friends and I met up with Mindy, she’s another blogger and is currently on a 625+ day run streak! She’s an incredible person, you should be following her on all social media outlets, check her out @RoadRunnerGirl. And check out this spread of pre race food available for runners!
My buddy Brian was there, I’ve run a handful of races with him. I also met up pre race with Eric, he runs with Team RWB and carries an American Flag during his runs. I met him last month at the Mississippi Blues Marathon. He is currently serving in the Air Force and is stationed nearby for some training.
The race itself was pretty dull, two out and back sections that wrapped back around itself. It was mostly on a running trail system a few blocks from the beach without much to look at. There was a section that ran along the beach highway in a bike lane so the traffic was still running right next to us. There was not a lot of course support and even a few water tables with nobody at them, just cups and water sitting out.
I was leading the 4:25 pace group and had a really great group of runners stick around with me up until Mile 21 or so and they started to space themselves out. The last 2-3 miles were tough to muscle through. It was mostly an out and back section of the course, so as I was coming back I saw all of the runners who were with my pace group and gave them encouragement. Then it was back on to the highway for the last mile or so and it seemed so long! I could see the finish area and hear the music, but it never seemed to get any closer. It did though, eventually, and I crossed the finish line at 4:25:01, how freaking close to perfect is that!
The after party had a great atmosphere. I was able to pick up my coveted mimosa soon after crossing the finish. There were lots of food and drink and at one point foam started erupting, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to grab a few friends and jump in.
It seemed like a decent turnout for a lightly advertised inaugural event. There were 157 marathon finishers and 428 half marathoners plus 1 wheelchair athlete in the half. There is the potential here for a great event, the after party alone will bring new runners next year, and it’s conveinetly timed to serve as a nice training run for people participating in the Mercedes Marathon or 26.2 with Donna, both of which take place in mid-February.
The 4:25 pace group ran strong through the first 21 miles. Once the sun came out we were cooking on the asphalt highway bike lane and my group started to space out. I came in at 4:25:01, so close to perfect, & stuck around at the finish to cheer in the runners who were in my group all day. Most of them came in between 4:28-4:35.
Finish – 4:25:01
Overall – 64/157
Division – 7/9