May Day Half Marathon Review (1:53:25)

Last week, I welcomed summer by participating in the May Day Half Marathon, a fun RAYOR (Run At Your Own Risk) event around Charleston, West Ashley, James Island, and Folly Beach.


I ran this last year (you can read about it here), and once again, Virginia, Rocky, and the OnShore Racing volunteer crew made the 13.1 (or 26.2) mile run one to remember. This year’s run was bigger and better than ever, with the $30 registration fee coming back to runners in the form of an awesome post-race party with food and beer, tech shirt, hand crafted oyster shell finisher’s medal, and shuttle back to the downtown parking garages.

We also had a packet pick up/happy hour/design your own bib party the Tuesday before the run.


The May Day Marathon (and half marathon) is not an official, sanctioned race- It’s a guerilla event to celebrate summer and enjoy some of the best views around Charleston. The roads are not closed, you will have to stop for traffic, lights, and cars, and you must run on the sidewalk or bike lane. This is why it’s advertised as Run At Your Own Risk. However, the route had great signage, including mile markers, and adequate aid stations with water, gatorade, gu, chomps, etc.

If you want to qualify for Boston or join Marathon Maniacs, you’ll need to run that on a closed-course, sanctioned race. If you want to have a good time, make new friends, party and drink, and get a long run in, then May Day might be the event for you. If you’re training for another event, it’s a great excuse for an aided long run and party. To truly understand May Day, feel free to check out my recap from last year or Mikey’s recap of this year’s event.


My May Day morning started out meeting Ashley, Krysta, and Jennifer at Folly River Park and carpooling to downtown Charleston, where we parked in a garage, went to the potty, and met everyone at the starting line around 15 minutes before the 9 AM race (The full marathoners started at the Isle of Palms at 7 AM). I was glad we made it on time because traffic was a beast going downtown, and I already get anxious before races and possibly missing the start.

The half marathoners took a pre-run picture, then the May Day veterans who ran last year took a picture, then we were OFF! We had 35 half marathoners and 17 full marathoners.



The half course ran from the Pineapple Fountain in Battery Park through Downtown, South of Broad, over the Ashley River Bridge, into West Ashley, then down Folly Road to James Island and eventually Folly River Park (just before Folly Beach). Everything was well marked with signs, aid stations, and a couple of on-course photographers. Lots of people also opted to run the whole thing with friends anyway.


I felt pretty good for about the first 5 miles. I won’t go into my splits, but it got ugly on Folly Road due to construction, the sun/heat, and stomach issues. I had most of a Hammer gel (espresso) at Mile 5. I’ve had chocolate Hammer gels before, but I don’t usually use fuel on runs because I don’t run 13.1 often. Typically, I eat my pop tart and coffee breakfast before, then go on my 10-12 milers. I don’t know why I grabbed espresso flavor, but it wasn’t as good as the chocolate ones, and I’m grateful I usually don’t run distances to need gels. I also had water and gatorade at some of the aid stations.


At the aid station about 1.5 miles from the finish, I was really feeling the heat. It hasn’t gotten too hot in SC yet, but our winter was long and our summer was… sudden. I’m getting acclimated to the heat, but even if you’re used to it, it’s still hard at 10:30 on a sunny day when you’re already 11.5 miles into a 13.1 mile run.

I also saw my friend and training partner, David, on that bridge. He ran the full marathon and finished right after I finished my half, but we ran for a little while together. It was great running for a bit with him at the finish because he’s a great training partner and keeps me going during the Sunday morning long tempo runs. This was his first 26.2 and he finished under 4 hours, too!


I picked up a little on the last mile and finished in 1:53:25. According to my watch, I spent over 2 minutes at aid stations, and with the construction, being mindful of traffic, and stomach issues, I was more than happy with my finish time, and everyone truly earned their handmade oyster shell medals.


After the race and some time in the Folly River Park bathroom, it was time to party. I was thankful for indoor plumbing in the bathroom. Tummy troubles during a run suck, but on the other hand… I am now closer to my pre-cruise weight.



At the post-race party, a band called the Spazzmatics played 80s music and we enjoyed pizza and salad from Paisano’s Pizza Grill, along with fruit, water, and beer.


All the food was really good, although I had to wait awhile before I could stomach the pizza.  I was really grateful for the post-race food since the marathon I did in September ran out (and didn’t have anything without meat when food was available), and it’s important to get some food in your body after a hard event like that.

I ate salad and 2 slices of veggie pizza, then spent some more time hanging out and chatting. You definitely have to take the entire day off work to fully enjoy and appreciate the May Day Marathon and after party, and I was glad I did.



We also had a fun little blow-up swimming pool, which rocked because many of us (including myself) were running the Race the Landing 5K that night. Sitting in the cold water in the pool helped my legs feel better.

Toward the end of the post-race party, all of us signed the May Pole, then grabbed the streamers and walked around it. It was crazy having to duck and occasionally running into other people, but the May Pole looked pretty cool when we finished.


Conveniently, the beer keg also ran out shortly after, so a bunch of us loaded the Paddy Wagon (a bus that belongs to Seanachai, an Irish pub on John’s Island) to go back to the starting lines.


The May Day event was super fun, and I will definitely run it again next year. I’m not really into training for half or full marathons right now, but I can’t turn down an excuse for a long run and party!


Thanks to Chandler Meadows of CBM Photography for several of the race pictures. Be sure to check out her Facebook page.

This entry was posted in Downtown, Folly Beach, Half Marathon, James Island, OnShore Racing, Race Recaps and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to May Day Half Marathon Review (1:53:25)

  1. Pam says:

    What a fun day! I wish someone do a non sanctioned race here in Wilmington. I love that they highlighted the special parts of Charleston. I may need to get my running group together for a road trip for this race next year!

  2. harveylisam says:

    Sounds like a fun day! Sorry you had tummy troubles, but I guess it comes with the territory. :/

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Eh, it’s okay. Sometimes these things happen, you just learn how to deal with them. I don’t think any recreational runner is ever 100% for a race, the mental toughness comes from having to push through when you don’t feel 100%. I think if I were planning to run half marathons regularly, I’d probably try more fuel sources and know what works.

  3. Rebecca Jo says:

    Looks like a fun race with some fun people!! How adorable are those medals 🙂
    Sorry your had some issues but you still killed it! Awesome job!

  4. Great job! Great recap…. Look at you still dabbling into my long distance world! 🙂

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Haha, I just race 10Ks and shorter, but I’m still doing my long runs- gotta keep the endurance up. Racing 5Ks and shorter distances is a lot easier when you have good endurance from 10-12 mile traning runs.

      I don’t have any plans to enter an organized half marathon anytime soon though- this event reminded me why :).

      • Yep last week was a recovery for me. I had planned to run Saturday morning at Disney. I had this awesome 8 mile run planned out, but it was pouring rain there all weekend! We still made the best of it at the parks though!

      • Amy Lauren says:

        Sometimes recovery is good! I took 2 days completely off of all physical activity after Thursday. Plus you are walking around the parks so it’s not like you’re just being lazy and not being active at all.

        I think your big endurance monster base is what helped you in that Coffin Island 5K too :).

  5. Adrienne says:

    I’m so sad I missed it!! Next time! Congrats on your races on May day!

  6. Steph says:

    Sounds like fun! I really love the coffee-flavored hammer gels because…caffiene 😉

  7. nevie b. says:

    How fun!! Those medals are to die for and I love that you were listed as “the tiny terror.” Is that man performing in a neck brace for real? What a great time it looks like, I’m jealous!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      I think the band members just wear things like neck braces to make themselves look nerdier/more 80s. The spazzmatics band is unique- it’s actually in several cities and has tons of musicians so they can switch out musicians if someone can’t make a gig, someone can fly in to take someone else’s place, etc. They do 80s covers.

  8. That race looks like a lot of fun!! Great job on a great race!

  9. Like everyone else, I concur that this sounds like a really fun guerrilla event. It’s so joyful. Good excuse to take a day off work. You got a very nice time, especially considering the heat and that it’s not a closed course.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Yeah, it’s actually quite a bit hotter now, but it was a sweaty morning on Thursday (plus running in the heat for 2 hours is a little different than running in the heat for 25 minutes). I wasn’t going to complain with my time considering I had to dodge cars and construction and run on the side of the road!

  10. That sounds like it was a ton of fun. An inexpensive and fun day, it doesn’t get much better then that.

  11. Kara says:

    That looks like such an awesome race/day!! I love how it’s a whole party 🙂 The medals are so unique, too. Sorry about your stomach – way to push through it!

    It just recently started warming up here so I’m having trouble getting used to the heat- it’s always tough!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Yeah, it’s 93 outside right now. I’m thankful today was a cross training day (I did BodyPump since I ran 8.5 miles yesterday), but I know I’ll have to face the heat tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday.

      We had a great time partying… total emphasis on just having a fun time and not necessarily competition which is really good!

  12. oh my gosh this race looks like a total blast!!! I am realizing how much I love small races for the character!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Some of the small ones are better than the large events. A lot of my run club friends in Florence did a local 5K there that had post-race grilled cheese sandwiches, chocolate milk, a great shirt, a goodie bag full of coupons for free stuff from local businesses, etc. A lot of it depends on the sponsors and how much effort the race directors put it- and the OnShore group definitely put a ton of work into this event.

  13. I would love to do this some year. Gotta hope May 1 falls on a weekend some time.

  14. what an amazing post race celebration! I have never had such a great experience

  15. Dave says:

    It was REALLY GREAT to see you on the course!! I wish I had enough left in me to finish together!! (That sun made the last 2 miles super challenging!!!)

    Congrats on a great run!!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks Dave, you did a great job!! The last 6 miles are always crazy hard in a marathon, that was the worst of the one I did and also the sun. It’s one thing to run 6-8 miles in the heat but a full is crazy hard. Congrats to you and i hope you got a 26.2 sticker for your car!! Planning on doing any other races soon?

  16. Run To Munch says:

    That looks like such a fun day of events! Loving all the photos!

    And congratulations on the finishing time!

  17. Sounds like such a fun way to get miles in and have a grand ole time!! Love the idea of making your own bib too!!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      They even had the markers and stuff for us to make the bibs at the packet pick up, that made it even more fun. I liked it because I just love the custom bibs with your name on them and I got to do that.

  18. Elizabeth says:

    Fun idea for a race. I love how the focus is on having fun and enjoying rather than being super competitive. Nice job!

  19. chasingthekenyans says:

    I love hearing about this race. I hope it continues to grow and continue to be a party! Those handmade medals are awesome!

  20. Pingback: May Day Half Marathon (1:49:50) | The Tiny Terror

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