This was the 6th Annual running of Under the Oaks on Jekyll Island, GA. The race has a 5k, 10k, and half marathon benefiting Saint Simons Christian School. This is a small town race with only about a thousand participants overall.
Jekyll Island is a beautiful island off the coast of Georgia with gorgeous beaches, lots of historic sites/buildings, a water park, a turtle rescue hospital, a handful of hotels (Ritz Carlton being the luxury of the island), and even a campground.
Jekyll Island was an easy hour and half drive for me, so I decided to just drive up race morning.
There is a $6 fee to access the island to support conservation of the island as well as fund projects with the biking/walking paths and picnic areas. I understand this city run fee, but I wish there was more communication of it at or before the time of registration. The only time I remember seeing it was in the final email.
Parking was simple with the Start and Finish at Summerwaves Water Park.
Packet pick up seemed to be flawless, except a grumpy old lady that literally made everyone wait for the exact minute, even though the volunteers and everything was already set up. Our packet was stocked full of coupons such as Mellow Mushroom, Outback, Chikfila, Tortuga Jacks, and a pretzel company. There was an option to pick up your packet the days before as well as a pizza dinner option.
The park was open for us to utilize the real bathrooms which was nice, as well as a couple of porta potties. However, a lot of people did not realize there were restrooms, so long lines were forming for just 2 porta potties. Later I actually learned there was another set of real restrooms further inside the park, but yet again there was no communication of this.
For some reason there were 2 djs at the Start and Finish, which was kind of annoying hearing 2 different types of music. There was also a raffle with a number from your bib that they collected at the Start, but unfortunately again there was no communication, and I did not realize it until they were calling the numbers at the Finish.
The course pretty much circles the island. Obviously by the name, Under the Oaks, it was expected to be running through some great tree beauties. But there was also some awesome scenery of the marsh and ocean (which had a nice stretch of boardwalk). Besides the oake trees, there were a lot of gorgeous banyon trees, and lots and lots of hanging mmoss. The course was mostly on biking/walking paths, varying slightly on different terrain. There were some patches of sand, crushed shell pavement, regular asphalt, and wood bridges. We passed a lot of beautiful historic buildings. But the most impressive was the constant overhang of the trees and moss coverage. It made it absolutely peaceful.
The day was a hot one for a Fall race being in the 70s with 99% humidity. It started sprinkling on the second half, which I actually really appreciated and iwshed it would have rained harder to cool it off more, but the trees also protected us from most of it.
The first and last miles I felt good and ran them nonstop, but from there, I was all over the place. I did 3x30 for 2miles, 3x45 for 2miles, and then quickly downgraded from 2x45 to 1x45. I was completely exhausted from the humidity and completely soaked in sweat by M1.
The hydration stations were property stocked and they served Nuun at every other one. The stations were spread out 1.5-2.5 miles apart. I had to utilize a water fountain at the beach and a lot of people were carrying their own water. I feel they should have put the stations a little closer together, especially for a humid day. Half way, they handed out energy gels.
There were not many spectators with this being a sleepy small island. There were only a few random family members here and there.
There was a photographer on course, who made sure you knew at the Start to SMILE and they would download the pictures for free. He actually had a recording playing a few hundred feet ahead of him so you knew to be prepared to make it your best.
The Finish line was quite expansive for it being such a small race. The food was the furthest away from everything and complete opposite of the parking. Unfortunately, beer was not served, but they did have a pretty impressive spread of food. Olive Garden was there with spaghetti and breadsticks. Outback was there with sweet potatos and their honey wheat rolls. There were bagels, bananas, doughnuts, cake, cookies, soda, and candy.
It was nice to have the real bathrooms at the Finish, as I was completely drenched from the rain. Luckily I brought a towel, as they had hot showers and a changing room, which made for a nice drive home.
The shirt and medal match and they also gave us a buff.
Overall, despite the mis (or non) communication of a few things, I would recommend this race. The course is tranquil and Jekyll Island is a hidden oasis to discover. Plus, they won me over with those Olive Garden breadsticks at the Finish! WHO KNEW?! :) I would plan to spend a few hours the day before, or after the race to explore the area.
I am currently running a half marathon a month and also running a half marathon in each state all to show support and raise awareness for breast cancer via The Donna. Please consider showing your support by making a donation today!