Racing through Cobblestone Streets and Mossy-Laden Oaks
The Rock ‘N Roll Savannah Marathon
Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah has charmed thousands of runners with its picturesque course and Southern hospitality. Today’s race brought more than 14,000 runners and walkers to the streets of the city. This city was immortalized in John Berendt’s 1994 classic, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It’s exactly that Southern charm and romance that runners will sense during the 7th Annual Rock ‘N Roll Savannah races in Georgia.
This race began at the corner of Bull and Bay Streets in the city’s downtown historic district, known for its plentiful hotels, shops, restaurants and bars that are filled to the rafters every St. Patrick’s Day. After the start, the historic district lies just a stone’s throw from the Savannah riverfront and walk — the race heads west along Bay Street and out of downtown, into some pretty nondescript areas. The course spends the next few miles heading mostly outside the city, through more industrial-warehouse-commercial district areas.
Tons of people were out on the sidewalks as runners raced past moss-covered trees lined with historic homes. For runners looking to set new personal record times or for runners trying their first marathon or half marathon — this course is pretty much tailor-made for someone who’s a first-timer, as it really is one of those few race courses that’s almost completely flat for the entire 13.1 miles.
Takeaways from this race:
- Average temperature – while the weather tends to be milder during late fall, the average low is 50ºF and the average high is 73ºF. However, during this race, temperatures rose to an extreme high (low 90s) with humidity; sweat was pouring down my face two miles in.
- 5 different race options and time limits:
- Marathon: 7 hours
- Marathon Relay: Times subject to change
- Half-Marathon: 4 hours
- 5K: 1 hour
- 1 Miler – the quick 1 Mile fun run is open to all ages and each runner will earn their own personal finisher medal
- Here are the marathon and half marathon course maps
- Flat course, but plain views – for people looking to PR, this might be the course for you; however, I was not impressed with the overall visuals from the half marathon. There were plenty of areas that felt remote and disconnected from the city. This finally changed around Miles 6-9 when I was able to run through the historic district which showcased Savannah’s famous mossy-laden oak trees. Sadly, this experience felt few and far between over this 13.1 mile course.On top of that, I found myself struggling to capture photos and captivating video footage along the way. Usually, I have too big a selection to cut down from and edit, but this was not the case for this race.
- Forsyth Park – this spot is home to the finish line for this race and so much more! Forsyth Park is also one of the most photographed spots in all of Savannah. There is something always going on here, from the open air concerts, to a farmer’s market that’s open every Saturday.
- The Bling – The Rock ‘N Roll bling always delivers and I have rarely heard a complaint from runners participating in any of their races.
If you have spare time to walk around the city, I highly recommend:
- City Market – Easily within reach of all your sightseeing in Savannah, the City Market is four blocks of open air shopping, all surrounded by restored warehouses with tons of cute extra shopping, plus dining and art. There are plenty of open air concerts in the square as well, and it can be a great stop for just sitting and people watching.
- The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist – Called the most impressive building in all of Savannah, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist certainly will make your jaw drop.
- Wormsloe Historic Site -If your’e looking for that quintessential Southern photo with the mossy oak trees hanging over a beautiful lane, this is where you’ll find it. This walkway leads right up to the ruins of Wormsloe, a colonial estate which is the oldest standing structure in Savannah at this point.
- Hitch Restaurant – one of the best eating and drinking spots in all the city. Full disclosure: my good friend Rick and his partner own both Hitch and Treylor Park, but I never share recommendations to foodie spots unless they are absolutely worth stopping in, and this place is one of them. Check out their menu, walk-in and be treated to first-class customer service and decor. IF you don’t have an excellent experience, hit me up and we can call the owners together!
From a 30,000 foot level, the city of Savannah oozes with charm, is pedestrian-friendly, and one that can be a little more affordable than Charleston, and a little tamer than New Orleans. As for the race itself, take my advice with a grain of salt and make your own decision.