This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Virginia was my 24th state.
We all see people wearing race shirts from previous races all the time, right? Well, I ran the half marathon of the 2012 Shamrock Marathon and Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, Virginia quite honestly because I saw a guy at the gym where I work out wearing a shirt from the race and it piqued my interest. When I asked him about it, he was very enthusiastic about the race and the course, so I thought I would give it a shot. This was definitely one of the biggest half marathons I had ever run, but it was so well-organized, the crowds weren’t an issue.
This race is held on the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day, so a lot of people that run it go for the party atmosphere. I was a little concerned about partiers being loud and keeping me up the night before the race (go ahead, call me old!), but that wasn’t an issue fortunately. The weather was nice while we were there and we got to enjoy the area before and after the race. Virginia Beach can be pretty expensive, especially hotels in the area, and it is fairly touristy so this place certainly isn’t for everyone. The sand sculptures on the beach were really cool and a very popular spot for photos after the race.
I felt like I got a ton of swag at this race, too; much more than I had at any other race. I got a short-sleeve technical shirt, hooded sweatshirt, running hat, small rucksack bag, in addition to one of the coolest medals I’ve received. The medal was a bottle-opener in the shape of a shamrock so it was functional as well as fun. Fun was pretty much the vibe from start to finish for this race. I highly recommend it.
So back to some more details about the race. It was in the low 50’s at the start of the race and overcast for the majority of the race with low wind. The course was completely flat and went through neighborhoods, past a military base, and ended at the boardwalk by the beach. There were plenty of aid stations with volunteers and people playing music along the course. Despite the fact that this race draws large crowds of runners, there are corrals so at least when I ran, the course didn’t feel crowded at any point.
I was glad I had chosen this race for my half marathon in Virginia because I enjoyed everything about the race from beginning to end. My finish time was also an improvement over my past several races, with a finish time of 2:07:40.
If you’re flying into the area, the closest public airport is Norfolk International Airport, 13 miles away. Another option is Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, 35 miles away in Newport News, Virginia. There is a trolley system, the VB Wave that is part of the city’s public transportation system. Depending on where your hotel or B & B is, you may be able to walk to many restaurants, bars, and shops. If you stay on streets that are numbered in the teens to twenties (for example, 19th or 25th Street), you should be able to get by without a rental car. However, if you prefer more peace and quiet and stay accordingly on a street at either far end (10th Street or lower and 30th Street and higher), you will definitely want to either rely on the trolleys, a rental car, or taxis.