May Day Half Marathon (1:49:50)

For the third year in a row, I ran the May Day Marathon, a “run at your own risk” half and full marathon that celebrates spring with running, parties, and finisher’s medals.

Images from the 2015 May Day Marathon by Onshore Racing at Isle of Palms, Sullivan's Island, Mount Pleasant, Charleston, James Island and Folly Beach, South Carolina

The May Day Marathon is not for everyone. If you prefer big crowds, waiting in corrals, large expos, having your race splits texted to your friends, and overpriced entry fees, you won’t find that at the May Day Marathon. Also, if you want to qualify for Boston, you’ll need to run a sanctioned race because there’s no chip timing or certified courses.

If you want to run a half or full marathon where

  • You are treated like a runner and not a number
  • The volunteers will learn your name and offer you beer and cupcakes at the aid stations
  • You won’t spend hundreds of dollars (late registration was only $50)
  • You can experience the best scenery Charleston has to offer

… The May Day Marathon might be for you.

Images from the 2015 May Day Marathon by Onshore Racing at Isle of Palms, Sullivan's Island, Mount Pleasant, Charleston, James Island and Folly Beach, South Carolina

Brought to the Charleston area by OnShore Racing, the May Day Marathon occurs every year on May 1. If May 1 falls on a weekday, which it has for the past 3 years, the run is held on May 1. Taking a vacation day to run 13.1 or 26.2 miles is for truly dedicated runners- and runners with flexible work schedules and enough vacation time. I’m kind of a workaholic and don’t take many days off, but I requested the vacation in January so I wouldn’t miss May Day (If you’re curious, you can read my 2013 and 2014 recaps).

With a start time of 9 AM for the half, I got to sleep in a little before driving to Folly to pick up some friends for a carpool, then heading to the start. The May Day courses are point-to-point, with the full beginning at the Isle of Palms (at 7 AM) and the half beginning in Waterfront Park (Downtown Charleston). Both races end at Folly River Park.

We got to the start 20-25 minutes early and took some pictures and mingled, cheering for a few of the faster full marathoners who ran by.

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We started on time and began running down the Battery and Lockwood Blvd. downtown for the first few miles. Runners get a great view of the Charleston Harbor, the Ashley River, and the James Island Connector before hitting the Ashley River Bridge, the Mile 3/16 aid station, and cupcakes. I didn’t have a cupcake at Mile 3- fortunately the finish line had cupcakes too (Even better for some runners, Mile 11/24’s aid station had both water and beer).

Running over the Ashley River Bridge was the toughest portion due to high winds on the bridge and the small pedestrian run/walkway. This bridge and the Wappoo drawbridge are both older and a little scary for running. They’re safe for running, but you have to slow down and pay attention to traffic, stopping for cars and lights when you need to. No use in risking your life during a run.

Images from the 2015 May Day Marathon by Onshore Racing at Isle of Palms, Sullivan's Island, Mount Pleasant, Charleston, James Island and Folly Beach, South Carolina

Images from the 2015 May Day Marathon by Onshore Racing at Isle of Palms, Sullivan's Island, Mount Pleasant, Charleston, James Island and Folly Beach, South Carolina

We had four aid stations in the half, as well as mile markers to tell us how much further we had to go to the finish. Since it wasn’t a closed course event, it was funny seeing some drivers’ and car passengers’ reactions to seeing runners on the road wearing race numbers. Drivers in general can be crazy, so it’s up to us as runners to watch out for ourselves even if pedestrians always have the right of way. I don’t think we had any near-misses with cars, though.

Images from the 2015 May Day Marathon by Onshore Racing at Isle of Palms, Sullivan's Island, Mount Pleasant, Charleston, James Island and Folly Beach, South Carolina

My goal was to run the May Day Half Marathon as a long run and gradually pick up the pace- and I did. I had a great progressive long run, starting out at a 8:47 pace and finishing with a 7:46 pace in Mile 13 (7:46 was my average pace at the Save the Light Half Marathon in February). I finished in 1:49:50- kicking it when I saw the clock inching toward 1:50. It was my fastest May Day Half Marathon.

The finish line party was fun- we had a taco bar, live music, maypole, corn hole boards, several types of craft beer, and lots of desserts. The desserts were the best- cookies, cupcakes, and even a birthday cake for one of the marathoners. I met a lot of runners from other states who visited for the race, including some first-time half and full marathoners, and hung out with old friends too.

Images from the 2015 May Day Marathon by Onshore Racing at Isle of Palms, Sullivan's Island, Mount Pleasant, Charleston, James Island and Folly Beach, South Carolina

The volunteers and race directors did a great job with the event and offered a lot for the low entry fee. We got cool fluorescent yellow t-shirts and there was even a fun shuttle to take runners back to the start.

Images from the 2015 May Day Marathon by Onshore Racing at Isle of Palms, Sullivan's Island, Mount Pleasant, Charleston, James Island and Folly Beach, South Carolina

At the end, we all danced around the May Pole (it was fun seeing it running over the last bridge to Folly!) and had a great time.

For me, the May Day Marathon officially kicks off summer in Charleston. I wouldn’t miss it for the world and have already registered for next year (it helps that the 2016 May Day Marathon is on a Sunday). Registration is only $30, and if you’re not sure which race you want to run, sign up anyway because you can change it later if you need to.

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All professional photography in this post is courtesy of Brian Fancher Photography. Brian is a local runner and triathlete, as well as a fellow ambassador for TrySports Mount Pleasant. If you’re in the South Carolina Lowcountry, please consider Brian Fancher Photography for your sports, wedding, portrait, or commercial photography needs.

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This entry was posted in Charleston, Charleston Running, Charleston SC, Downtown, Folly Beach, Half Marathon, IOP/Sullivan's, James Island, Mt Pleasant, OnShore Racing, West Ashley and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to May Day Half Marathon (1:49:50)

  1. Victoria says:

    This sounds like a totally awesome race. I LOVE low key events where it’s all about the running. Glad you had a chance to do this.

  2. Theresa says:

    I didn’t even know about this race until about a month ago. I’ll have to look into it next year! Such a cool idea!

  3. lizlicorish says:

    That is such a great shot of you running! Wow – this looks like a fun event. I really like the idea of running half marathons as long runs and I may try that some time. Most halves are such large events that it must be really refreshing to run a smaller, friendlier 13.1. Congrats on your finish!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks Liz!

      I ran 2 half marathons as races this year, and it was fun. I knew with it being May (hotter) and this being an open course, I wasn’t setting any PRs. Also, there aren’t age group awards so no chance of me placing… so may as well just use it as a long run than try to run really hard and have to take days off or a bunch of easy days to recover ;).

  4. Farrah says:

    The May Day Marathon sounds like something I’d enjoy (if I was still running, haha)! The pictures are so pretty! :]

    Great job on your time!!

  5. Hollie says:

    I always love reading your recap about this race. It honestly sounds like it would be such an incredible experience. A race that gives out cupcakes is a winner in my book!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      It’s a lot of fun. They got the cupcake idea from The Oatmeal “Beat the Blerch” comic. I’m not sure how many people ate them at the aid stations, but they got eaten at the finish! It’s all about keeping it fun and informal!

  6. Angela says:

    This looks so much fun!!!! Congrats on finishing 🙂

  7. harveylisam says:

    Love the bib! And everything, really. I like colours. 🙂

  8. KrisLawrence says:

    What a cool event!! I have never heard of a $30 marathon before. I love that and your photographer friend did an amazing job. That photo of you on the bridge is incredible! Congrats on a great training run race.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      You should come do our $30 marathon one of these days, hint hint :).

      Brian is the best sports photographer in Charleston. He took pictures at the 5K I ran tonight and they will be great too. I love seeing which races he is shooting, I definitely try to run them!

  9. That was a great race picture!!!!

  10. Sarah says:

    This sounds like such a great event! That picture of the beach, holy I want to transplant myself there RIGHT.THIS.SECOND. I’m so glad you are doing well 🙂 and great race picture of you also, in your zone and happy!

  11. That sounds like so much fun! Races are so expensive and such an ordeal sometimes. I love the May Day idea, too! Great reason to take a day off!

    I ran a local 10 miler yesterday with a fun local spirit, volunteer driven, dirt cheap and the prizes are rocks from the quarry with metal tags on them (Quarryman Challenge – near a rock quarry). It is super hilly so they give out King and Queen of the hill awards, too.

  12. I would really love to do this someday! Will they ever do it on a weekend?

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