Saturday, November 13, 2010
Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon
The Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon takes place in the Chickamauga Battlefield park. The 5300 acre park was the scene of the last major Confederate victory of the American Civil War. The park is in Fort Oglethorpe, GA which is a next door neighbor to Chattanooga, TN. If you are looking for a scenic back to nature, small town type race, this is your race. The marathon runs essentially through the park. We were only on stretches of what could be called a main road for maybe a half mile total. The rest of the race is run on paved roads within the park and winds through the various monuments. The monuments must have been erected at significant places in the battle as many of them seem to be just scattered about randomly. You are just running through the woods and there is some kind of monument to Illinois or a pyramid of cannonballs. It is really pretty interesting to think that a major battle took place right there roughly 150 years ago. My Uncle is a huge civil war buff and could give so many more interesting details than I could do here. If you are interested, you can buy his book here (insert shameless plug) ;)
and now for the rest of the story...
I made the 2 hour drive from home last night making it to the expo right as they opened. Did I mention this was a small race? I think there were 2 vendors at the expo which was fine with me as I had no spending money anyhow. I am used to mega-expos so this was a nice change of pace. In and out. Easy.
I can't remember how much the race registration fee was but as registration fees go I remember it being cheap. Considering the low entry fee, I was suprised that we were given a baseball cap and there were separate shirts for the half marathon and marathon. The half marathoners received a short sleeve tech tee while the marathoners got a nice long sleeve tech tee. I loved the slogan on the back "26.2 miles of history".
Getting to the start was a breeze. I got to the race at 6:45 for a 7:30 start. I literally got out of my car at 7:25 and walked 100 feet to the start. I loved not having to worry about a bag drop or freezing my booty off waiting for the start. The mayor gave a short speech, they had a brass band play the National Anthem to which most of the racers sang along and then BOOM the cannon goes off to start the race. An actual cannon shot off by civil war renactors. It was surprisingly loud!
The race has 700 runners total which were a mix of marathoners and half marathoners. The course was a loop course so the marathoners ran the loop twice. At several spots, the two races split off to do a dog leg to make up the mileage. If I were only running the half marathon, I would say I had a stellar half. Unfortunately, I ran a full... The weirdest thing. I was running 10 minute miles exactly for the entire first half. Once the half marathon runners split off for their finish, the wheels started falling off. I had this crazy pain in my hip so there was a lot of stopping to stretch it out. So very odd as I have never had that issue before. Had there been more aid stations on the course I might have stopped with a DNF but just kind of hobbled through it. If I kept running it actually felt better than walking. Eventually it would tighten up so I would stop and stretch it out again and get to running. Very strange. I powered through it and finished but it wasn't the time I thought I would have when I started. Not really disappointed as I kind of feel like I didn't stick to my training plan leading up to the race and through the taper so it wasn't like I did everything I should have to have a great race. I think my time was right at 5 hours which - UGH - but at least I beat Jared the Subway guy, right? LOL.
Post race, there was all kinds of food to be had - my Dad would have LOVED this part. Tons of pizza, cookies, and other typical post race food. They had a band playing and activities for the kids. Seriously it was small town america. So nice!
I slipped on some compression leg sleeves and hopped in my car literally 10 minutes after the race. This was my first time trying compression but am a believer. I was in serious pain during the run. By the time I got home 2 hours later, peeled myself out of the car and took a shower, my legs were fresh like I had not run at all. CRAZY.
All in all I loved the race. Truly a lovely course. I saw at least 6 deer cross my path at various times during the run. Not a lot of crowd support as the roads are a little isolated but they were there at the major intersections. The medal varies each year as they pay tribute to a different monument in the park. I think this year was Tennessee. OH - one more good thing about a small race, you might actually get a good race photo. At one point I was the only person for about 50 yards so the photogrpaher and I had quite the conversation as I ran toward him and he snapped shots. If I ever get a good race photo, that might have been my best opportunity! A few pics from the day, sorry there are not more but I was trying to be a zen runner and not have as many gadgets this time.