The inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Marathon and Half Marathon was held on November 5th; next year’s race will be on November 3, 2012. The race sold out so sign up early for next year – if you sign up through March, the marathon is only $95 and the half is $85.
Let me say this right off the bat: this was the WORST Rock ‘n’ Roll race I’ve ever participated in. Will it get better? Absolutely. That’s what RnR does: they go in and create an efficient, profitable and popular race.
That being said, I don’t think I’d ever pay to run this race again. There’s just too many other options out there; the marathon’s a growing sport and really, there’s only a few must-do races: NYC, Boston, Chicago, London, Berlin, not Savannah.
Since the race was on a Saturday, the expo was held on Thursday and Friday at the Savannah Trade and Convention on an island with one bridge. not good.
We left at 3:45pm on Friday, were probably about 3-4 miles away and I had to get out of the car and walk the rest of the way and got there around 5:45pm. There was simply too much traffic for the one entrance and exit.
There was also a ferry that could shuttle you across the river, but I suspect most people, like us, drove instead.
The expo itself was uncomfortably crowded; I’ve never seen a RnR expo like this. It felt like nothing was prepared adequately for the amount of people, and Savannah isn’t even close to one of the biggest RnR races. RnrAZ is much bigger and I’ve ran that race 3 times and never seen it like this.
Just to get out of the building took about 10 minutes. I also heard that the expo stayed open an hour later than normal because of all the traffic.
I didn’t grab anything from the expo but this was the goody bag:
Since there wasn’t enough parking downtown where the race started, people were encourage to park at the Savannah Mall and be bussed to the start or buy a shuttle ticket for $22 to pick you up at a few different spots.
We decided on the free mall shuttle and got there around 5:55am for a 7:30 race start. Like the expo, it was already crowded and streets were backed up. I would not have wanted to get there any later since the bus lines were growing longer and longer by the minute.
We waited about 20 minutes for a bus and the ride took about 40 minutes.
The start was overcrowded and busy; I really felt like the infrastructure of the whole event wasn’t sufficient for the amount of people. <-theme of the event
The corrals were clearly marked, relatively easy to get into (I was in #2 so it wasn’t very packed) and the race started right on time which was great.
Unfortunately the course was a bit of a bummer; it was flat and fast but boring and unforgettable. You didn’t really see Savannah; you just saw “insert a city here”.
Part of the marathon course was even run on a highway – out and back. When people are paying big bucks to see a city, they generally don’t want to see its’ interstates.
I thought the course support was great, with water and Cytomax every mile and a halfish and GU’s in 2 different areas. There weren’t a ton of people, but there were a few spots with cheering crowds which was nice and a couple good bands out on the course.
The weather was also great for running – it was pretty brisk and cold in the morning (bring throwaway clothes!) but warmed up to a nice temp for the rest of the run. The marathoners faced a tough headwind on miles 22-24 on the highway part (not fun), but other than that, the weather was really nice.
THE FINISH AREA
Once again, I felt like the finish area was a total mess once you grabbed your food goodies. The half marathoners started together with the full marathoners so you had everyone finishing together and it was so chaotic, at least for RnR standards.
I had to ask 2 people for shuttle directions because there was no signage and Jaymo asked 3 people earlier in the morning, none of whom even knew where the shuttles were.
I have never done the bag check at any race, and this was one where I was soooo glad that I didn’t.
The line for the shuttle back to the mall was stupid long – seemed like a million people. And then there was another shuttle to a different island, but the lines were so long you couldn’t tell which was which. I walked over to another shuttle without any lines – it turned out to the airport hotels shuttle so I hopped on that.
I later found out you were suppose to pay $22 for it but no one even asked or said anything about it so I’m glad I jumped on that bus or I’d probably still be standing in line.
I hate to ream out an inaugural race, but I talked to so many people who said the same exact thing. Even my seatmate on the plane said she’d never run the race again!
As are all RnR races, they are expensive and for the money, it just has to be better managed and run. We stayed with local friends who have lived in Savannah for years and said that this race was the 2nd largest event of the year so maybe the city just wasn’t prepared for the influx of people.
The medals are cute, love the Carolina Blue color.
And like I previously said, I think next year’s race will be so much better; RnR will go fix a lot of the issues; I just doubt I’ll run it.
Book your hotel early. There aren’t that many hotels in downtown Savannah. I talked to 2 groups of ladies who had to stay out by the airport, about a 30 minute drive, because there wasn’t anything else available closer to town.
Go to the expo early, like Friday morning or Thursday morning. Beat the rush.
Bring warm throwaways for the chilly morning before the race.
Arrive early. ARRIVE EARLY! If you are taking a shuttle, get there early!
Make a concrete plan about how you are going to exit the finish area after the race. I’d suggest NOT taking the shuttle back to the Mall if you can help.
Probably want to make dinner reservations early in downtown Savannah for Friday night.
Overall I’d rank this race a 5.12 out of 10.