Here’s my race recap for the Ocean Isle Beach Half Marathon.
This was my second year participating in this event, which is put on by my pals over at Coastal Race Productions.
As part of the BAM (big a-word medal…and they are) race series, the Ocean Isle Beach Half Marathon is one of four along Brunswick County Beaches- there are others Oak Island, Sunset Beach, and Holden Beach.
How to run for (almost) free
Pro tip: if you volunteer at a race, you get a $50 credit toward a future race. This is the best runner budgeting hack ever!
I volunteered at a water stop with my kids at Sunset, so Ocean Isle Beach Half Marathon ended up being less than $20 to run after using my credit.
If didn’t live here, here’s how I’d run this hack:
Get a group of besties to do a girls beach weekend that includes volunteering. Doesn’t matter if they like to run or not; non-runners can opt to donate to a non-profit of choice.
Then, you’ve got your almost free race. Bring your family to the beach on race weekend or revisit with your girls.
Packet pick up (and a riff on socks)
If you can’t pick up your packet the day before, they’ll accommodate same day packet pick up. This is really nice if you’re traveling day of and want to minimize time away or expenses.
If you can? Packet pick up is the day prior in Sunset Beach, which right beside Ocean Isle. Depending on where you’re staying, this is a 10-15 minute trip (tops!).
Fleet Feet Myrtle Beach was at pick up this year and everything was 15% off, so I snatched up a pair of Feetures Plantar Fasciitis socks.
Side note: when I wrote this article, these socks didn’t exist. Lemme tell ya- they’re the stuff. This is my fourth pair. I’m not actively fighting PF anymore, but I believe they’re a nice preventative piece, too.
This year, the start and finish was off island. I’ve been told the race has simply outgrown the parking availability- which is a great thing!
By final count, there were over 1000 runners (5K and half marathon combined) from 30 different states.
Context: the most recent census counted about 1000 for total residents of Ocean Isle Beach!
So, moving the parking/start/finish was a great move.
For half marathoners, the course was identical (just different start/finish points) and parking was so much easier in the Lowe’s Foods shopping center.
There were plenty of clean port-a-potties and even minutes prior to the race, there never seemed to be a line.
After the race, the finishing area was larger (food, beer garden, general socializing) and it was easier to get out of the parking area.
Kind of a bummer for 5K runners (off island vs on), but what can I say? Train for a half next year, y’all!
What’s the course like?
We went over the bridge pretty early with this route, which is the only real incline on the course.
That said, it’s a steady uphill push for about a quarter mile.
The wind was at our back on the way up (we weren’t so fortunate coming back!) and we went over right at dusk, which was gorgeous.
At the highest point on this bridge, you’re on top of the Intracoastal waterway and can see out to the sand and Atlantic ocean.
Ocean Isle Beach is not commercial – there aren’t a lot of neon lights, lit up signs, etc.
The race course itself doesn’t go on the beach itself but rather down the residential areas on the first and second rows.
We ran both the east and west ends; there are some dirt and gravel areas that make for interesting footing.
I felt really bad for the guys pushing strollers in these sections, but you take the longer stroller friendly races where you can get em!
Focus on what you can control
I was running fourth woman for the first 5K or so, then moved into third.
Only knew because spectators kept telling me which spot I was in.
“third female! Keep it up!”
I appreciated the support but it isn’t something I like to focus on…
…mostly because how other people are performing is completely out of my control and it’s never apples to oranges.
What if she’s using this race as a long run to practice marathon race pace?
Or what if it’s her only race for the year and the singular focus is today?
It’s much better just to focus on what you can control. Your own attitude and effort.
Second place is second place
Back in the day, I had a No Fear shirt that said second place is first loser.
What a toxic mindset, huh?!
I passed another female in the final two miles and finished in 1:37:33 to secure second place and a negative split (where the second half is faster than the first)!
Is it my fastest time?
Not even close.
Still, I’m a masters runner on the regular podium and behind a woman a decade younger who was giving the top men a solid push!
This is a win in my book.
Who should do this race?
It’s off season at the beach (but still warm out!) with a fast, mostly flat course open to all ability levels, including run-walkers and walkers.
Ocean Isle Beach half marathon is inexpensive, has great swag (including that humongous medal!), and is an all around well-organized event. Join me next year!
You can find my running adventures and general ramblings on Instagram. Let’s connect!