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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!