Wandering with a Purpose

Tag: travel run

Race Recap: 2021 Swamp Rabbit 5K

logo for Swamp Rabbit Half Marathon and 5K

The Swamp Rabbit 5K and Half Marathon is an annual race in Greenville, SC, on the – wait for it – Swamp Rabbit trail. The trail is essentially a greenway that runs throughout Greenville and various points outside of the city. I think it’s over 26 miles in total, so you can cover some good mileage! This race is unique because it is one direction. You take a bus to the start line and run almost entirely downhill, thus giving it the tagline “The fastest race in the Southeast.” When I signed up for it, I pictured running down a mountain and what a challenge that could be.

Registration

Greenville has been on my travel list for a long time. I have been stir crazy from the lockdown situation and was longing for both a trip and a race. I started researching options and somehow stumbled upon this race. It was in person and in a city that I’ve wanted to go to. It’s weird that I live just over the SC border and the difference in activities from North to South Carolina. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do an in-person race, so I signed up immediately. Since I wasn’t in half-marathon shape, I opted for the 5K knowing this would be a great way to cap off my pre- pre-training for the Chicago Marathon.

Sign-up was pretty easy. You just had to make sure to get a shuttle ticket to either the start or the finish. I opted to get the shuttle from downtown to the startling so I could wander around at the end. I booked an Airbnb near downtown and put the trip on my calendar. It motivated me and gave me something to look forward to doing.

Arrival and Logistics

Once I got into town, I went to pick up my bib. I was disappointed that people didn’t seem very friendly. It may be because of COVID and people don’t chat anymore, but I literally gave them my name, got my bib and shirt, and then left. I was hoping to talk to someone about the shuttle and how it worked, but it just seemed cold. They did have the medals laying out and wow! I couldn’t wait to get this one. Even though it was a 5K, the medal looked awesome – stay tuned for a picture at the end!

It took me reading the website several times to feel comfortable about where I needed to go. The Peace Center downtown at 6:15 am for a 7:30 am start. The half arrival time was 5:45 am since they had further to drive. I was nervous about parking, but there was a lot of free street parking at that time. I think the parking limit started around 9 or 10 am, and the race would be done long before then.

Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery

The Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery, a restaurant on the trail (I told you it was long!), was the starting point of the 5K. I bet it is a very cool place to hang out. They had these funny bike stations for repairs, so it must be a common stop and cycling must be very popular.

There was lots of time to explore since we had to wait for so long. We wore masks at the start but took them off when we started running.

The Race
Start Line

After playing the national anthem, they kicked off the start. There wasn’t an actual “on your mark…” because of COVID. Everyone started at their own time and kept their space to social distance. Your time would start on your chip. My goal for the race was to run the whole time and speed up at the end. I’m sure the half marathon runs on the trail most of the time, but the 5K didn’t. In the beginning, we ran through a neighborhood to get us back onto the trail. Then we were off the trail again on the 2nd mile because of construction. While we were on the trail, it was very nice. Unlike at Disney, I didn’t take any pictures because I was running. It was very easy to socially distance. And while you can see on the elevation graph, it was mostly downhill, it was not going down a hill or a mountain like I pictured.

5K Course Map - Swamp Rabbit 5K
Elevation Map - Swamp Rabbit 5K

Once we got to the end (about 2.5 miles), we saw the downtown area and the finish. It was an awesome setup, and I couldn’t wait to check it out! At the end, you go up a short hill and then it was a sprint to the end. And sprint I did! I finished the race with a PR of 33:18, which works out to a 10:42 mile.

cool medal

Once I crossed the finish line, I got one of my favorite medals – look at the sliding rabbit!

I was admiring my new bling when I heard someone yelling my name loudly. Since I didn’t know anyone in town and my friends were still sleeping (or so I thought!), I thought it would be for another Kristin. Eventually, I looked up and saw that I had a fan club! They made signs and had a balloon. I couldn’t believe they took the time to do that for me – the surprise completely made my day! I felt very cool and special to have such amazing friends to greet me. They were cheering for me at the end, but I was too focused sprinting to hear them.

fan club
Takeaway

This was just the kind of race I needed – something simple yet in a very cool town. This made for a great weekend, and overall I think the Swamp Rabbit team did a great job! I would recommend this race to someone in the future. I would like to do the half marathon at some point in the future. I’ll definitely be back!

Top 6 US Travel Runs

Running is a great way to see a city. Traveling also makes running more fun because you get to see new things. Below are my top favorite travel runs here in the States:

1. Central Park, New York, NY

I ran a little bit before moving to NYC, but I didn’t get into running until I lived here and ran in Central Park. I would argue this is one of the best running locations in the world. Everyone from beginners to world-class runners run here. You have a variety of terrains, scenery, and can run any distance. I love running Central Park and cannot wait for my next opportunity to do it again!

Central Park LakeRunning Views in Central Park

2. National Mall, Washington, DC 

Running on the Mall never gets old. In the morning it is quiet; vendors are setting up their goods or carts. By the end of the run, tourists from across the country and around the world are coming out to see our National Capitol. I find this the most motivational city – there is something about the energy of where our government (tries) to do work and the history that has happened here.

Washington Monument DC travel run Arlington over the bridge

3. Lady Bird Park, Colorado River, Austin, TX

I ran here with my brother. The path was full and the other runners and walkers provided great motivation. We were able to run 7 miles and could have gone further. Afterward, we rented paddleboards and hung out on the river – made for a great Saturday!

4. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

You have a chance to run through one of the birthplaces of our country and be surrounded by where some of our country’s best minds were educated. The Charles River provides views of Boston and crew teams. Lots to see and to watch.

5. The Battery, Charleston, SC

Southern Charm, large trees, views of Fort Sumter – Charleston is my favorite city for a reason and a great one for running! Not only are the views fantastic, but after a good run, you can eat all of the delicious food in the city without feeling guilty.

6. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL (haven’t actually run this one, but I REALLY want to)

Having lived in the Chicago suburbs, there is something special about Chicago and the beauty of Lakeshore Dr. I love going down here to see the skyline and the blue of Lake Michigan. Now that I’m into running, running here and through Grant and Millennium Parks will be a MUST.

Rosy Wanderings! (and happy running!)

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