This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Alabama was my 23rd state.
When I read this blurb about the Kaiser Realty Coastal Half-Marathon, I thought this was a good race for me: “Why run it. For the wildlife. At this backcountry race across the trails of the 6,150-acre Gulf State Park and wildlife reserve, don’t be surprised if you spot a great horned owl or gopher tortoise along the route. The mostly flat course meanders beside swamps, beaches, and rivers, and finishers will be rewarded with local seafood cuisine.” How could I resist? I signed up immediately.
This race was sponsored by BP and they had paid for elite runners Deena Kastor and Johnny Gray to be there although they weren’t actually running the race. I had never seen Deena Kastor in person before and was surprised to see she was even tinier than I thought she was. In the days before the race I had been sick with a cold and was running a fever the morning of the race. I remember telling my husband that running a half marathon was just about the last thing I felt like doing at the moment but of course I sucked it up and ran it anyway.
Although you would expect the course to be flat since it’s in a coastal town “at the beach,” the course was slightly uphill and there was a strong wind, so it wasn’t as easy as I expected. The food after the race was incredible- a full on southern spread of crab cakes, shrimp and grits, crab corn chowder, and more; definitely some of the best post-race food I’ve ever had.
My family and I relaxed in Orange Beach before and after the race. Orange Beach is a clean area with powder white sand and not overly touristy. There aren’t a lot of hotels (not sure if there are any really) in the area so I suggest searching airbnb or renting a condo or beach house through Wyndham Vacation Rentals. The race is held on Thanksgiving weekend so it’s typically quiet then but the weather is still pretty warm. It’s a great place for a racecation!
From my post-race notes:
” Majority of course was on paved bike/running trail, which was nice since it sheltered us from the wind and sun. About 1 mile was on the road and we could glimpse the ocean, but it was slightly uphill, into the wind, so it was very difficult. I also had a cold with cough and fever, so my finish time wasn’t so fast, but I was happy with it nonetheless. I passed several runners the last few miles. Post-race food was the best yet at a race- crab corn chowder, seafood gumbo, shrimp or oyster po boys, chicken fingers, bread. Medal was plain. Shirt was long-sleeve technical. Volunteers were pretty good along the course. Minimal people cheering runners on. Deena Kastor and Johnny Gray were at packet pickup and spoke at race start. My finish time was 2:15:08.”