The Run Hard Columbia Marathon is a labor of love for the community and it's charity supports youth in the midlands. As a race, it's challenging and fun. Starting and finishing at the State House and running through many downtown neighborhoods, it's a nice looking course, too.
This is a two lap course with the first half of the lap more downhill and the last half more uphill. Water stops are between 1 and 2 miles apart with Gu offered about every other stop.
Here is my mile by mile view.
Mile 1/14--fastest mile because it's the most downhill mile of the marathon and it's also the first mile. Mile 1 differs a little from mile 14 because of the position of the start and finish.
Mile 2/15--slowest mile on the course. Has the steep uphill on Saluda Street. It's a shady neighborhood street, but the second time around, you'll get a sense of how the rest of your race may go.
Mile 3/16--Fairly flat mile on Heyward Street running through the Shandon neighborhood.
Mile 4/17--Another fairly flat mile on Kilbourne Road.
Mile 5/18--Slightly downhill mile on Kilbourne and Deveraux ending at the 5 mile mark and hand-off for the marathon relay at Breenan School.
Mile 6/19--Downhill mile on several streets through the Lake Katharine neighborhood and onto the causeway across the Lake.
Mile 7/20. At the 6.5 mark in the lap, you are at the lowest point on the course at the corner of Woodlake Drive and Shady Lane. The next 2.5 miles are a gradual uphill grind.
Miles 8-10/21-23. Trenholm Road. This is not a big steep hill, but on miles 21-23, it will tell the tale of your race. The next miles on Gervais Street get more press for being the signature hills on the course, but it's Trenholm that gets my vote for ball buster.
Mile 11/24. Gervais Street. So, you survive Trenholm and turn onto Gervais. It's a refreshing downhill past Forest Drive and up a small hill to Harden.
Mile 12/25. Continuing on Gervais, you face the last steep hill (last real hill of any kind) as you go under the train trestle that crosses Gervais and then up the stair step steep hill to Barnwell and a lesser hill until you turn on to Pickens.
Mile 13/26. When you turn on to Pickens, you have slight down hill block or two and then it's basically flat the rest of the way. The only bummer about this mile is that at Pickens and Gervais, you are only 3 blocks from the finish, yet you have another mile to go.
Finish is on Gervais facing the State House. If you weren't so tired, it would be a picturesque finish.
I ran an even pace strategy using a pace band. If I do this race again, I'll probably try a negative split plan. If you are looking for a challenging South Carolina marathon, look no further.
Parking is fairly plentiful around the State House area. I park on Assembly Street along the street and arrive about 30 minutes before the race. The area is full of good restaurants and plenty of hotels. From a logistics standpoint, these facts and the relatively small size of the race make it pretty easy in and out.
By EMR about 2013
In just it's second year this is a nice, well run race. There is a modest, efficient expo but they also have race day packet pick-up. There were plenty of water stops but many had only water. Nice long sleeve tech shirt and nice medal too.
It is a two loop course. I like this in a marathon so I know what to expect the second half. It is hilly, and some of the hills are quite tough. In 2013 we had cool mid 30 temps at start but low 60's by the end.
I stayed just outside of Columbia to save money but was still only 15 minutes away. I parked @ the Lady St garage which was very close and free! I arrived about 90 minutes early and could've easily shown up much later. Plenty of pre-race port-a-johns.
By WH about 2013
This marathon is a double loop course; you run the half marathon course twice. The pro: you know what to expect on the second half of he marathon. The con: you literally pass right by the Finish line... where the half marathoners shot in. Mentally... You have to look away.
This is a very hilly course with 2 pretty significant hills (run them twice). You have to be prepared for them. However, since the course is very hilly, you will use different muscle groups, helping your legs not to tire as quickly as on a pancake flat course.
Aid stations were at every mile.
March can be pretty chilly in the mornings. The race began at 34 degrees, yet ended with 66 degrees. This is normal March weather in Columbia. Dress in throw away clothes for the first couple of miles so you don't over dress for the entire event.