Not too long ago, Greenville was without a major distance event. While there were a handful of half marathon races that existed in the Upstate, runners were often forced to look elsewhere to satisfy their marathon hankering. As recently as 2004, only two marathons existed in the state: Kiawah Island and Myrtle Beach. In hindsight, it seems implausible that an area with as rich of a running culture as Greenville, South Carolina was without a downtown marathon event. The Spinx Run Fest was first held in 2005, and in eight years, it has quickly grown into one of the most popular fall racing events in the entire Southeast region.
Last year, over 3,100 participants took part in the marathon, half marathon and 5K races. Today, Spinx has become the Greenville Track Club’s preeminent event on the race calendar and organizers are expecting its biggest turnout yet with a downtown 10K added to this year’s lineup.
Things will get underway Friday at the Spinx Run Fest EXPO. The EXPO and packet-pickup will once again be held indoors at the magnificent Kroc Center, ½ about a mile away from Fluor Field where the races will end. The EXPO will run from Noon to 8:00p.m. with many vendors attending to sell and promote running related merchandise. Running guru, Jeff Galloway, will also be in attendance to sign books and answer questions. Late registration will also be available at the EXPO, but registration will not be available on race day.
On Saturday, hundreds of fervent runners will be lined up in front of Fluor Field (home of the Greenville Drive minor league baseball franchise) well before daylight. A busy day of running will begin with the Spinx Carolina Marathon at 7:30a.m. The course has again been altered this year and will utilize more of the Swamp Rabbit Trail. It will again take runners northward to Travelers Rest and wind through the Furman University campus before returning back to Greenville. The course is also less hilly this year with less than 400 feet of total climbing.
The Run Town USA Half Marathon offers a good combination of “urban streets, park trails and quiet neighborhoods.” The course truly allows one to experience Greenville and its periphery without rerunning the same route like at the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon. Runners will circle the downtown in a clockwise formation over terrain that features moderate to challenging hills. The race begins at 8:00a.m.
Participants in the full and half marathon can expect a big boost in the weather with a freeze watch in effect for Saturday morning. No concerns this year with overheating (unless you bundle up too heavy) and there will be an ample supply of water and Gatorade on hand at various mile markers. The temperatures are not expected to exceed much beyond the mid-40s which means the prospect of some fast times.
The event records in the marathon are held by Vincent Lompei (2:34:15 set in 2006) and by Amanda Cooley for the women (3:00:32, also set in 2006). The men’s half marathon record was set by Columbia’s Eric Ashton (1:08:32 in 2006) and Gail Jervey (1:20:44 in 2005) in the women’s division.
Just as a marathon event was absent from Greenville before the inception of the Spinx Run Fest in 2005, 10K races have been hard to come by downtown (with the exception of the Reedy River 10K in March). This year, race organizers have decided to bring back the classic 6.2 miler in the inaugural Greenville's Finest Downtown 10K. The course will start out on Main Street and circle the outskirts of the city near McPherson Park. It will then head into Cleveland Park and follow the Swamp Rabbit Trail on its way back to the finish at Fluor Field. All of the races will finish inside the stadium behind home plate.
Afterwards, the stadium will host an extravagant post-race party as well as the award ceremony. Plenty of sandwiches, cookies, fruit, yogurt, water, and of course beer, will be available for race finishers.
The event doesn’t end there however. Later in the evening, Spinx will also be hosting the Big Punkin 5K Haunted Run. The race will be run completely after dark which means runners will be equipped with GLOW GEAR (wristband, necklace and a flashing wand). The race will be timed, but is catered more towards children and families. The Big Punkin 5K will start at County Square on University Ridge and end inside Cleveland Park. There will be free refreshments, live music and a costume contest following the race. A shuttle bus will be available from 8p.m.-9:30p.m. to transport participants back to parking at County Square.
Visit the Spinx Run Fest website for more information by clicking here.