It’s Wabbit Season: A Swamp Rabbit Weekend Recap

TCTC Members at the start of the Greenville Half Marathon.

“Shhhhhhh, be vewy vewy quiet, we’re hunting wabbits!”

Going along with Looney Tune’s Elmer Fudd, about 30 of TCTC’s finest runners made the trek down to Greenville, SC to take on the spring destination race of 2024, The Greenville Half Marathon and 5k: A Swamp Rabbit Race To Greenville, SC.

Wait a second, destination races have an aspect about them that make them special don’t they? What’s so special about this race in Greenville? That’s a great question! TCTC decided to make this race a destination race because it’s designated to be the fastest half marathon of the south! They’re not wrong either!

To break down the course, the race starts in Travelers Rest, on the outskirts of the city. We’re not gonna sugar coat it for you, the start is a bit tight, so you’re gonna get cozy with some neighbors. With that being said, be sure to place yourself accordingly in the lineup, where you feel confident you can get out and get settled in your pace without getting trampled. With an expanded field to 2500 runners for the half this year from the prior 2000, each corral had around 500 runners that was ordered by your self seeded time.

After the starting horn sounds, you’re making your way through some roller hills for the first 4 miles. Since we live in Winston-Salem, many of us said, they’re making mountains out of mole hills. They’re more than manageable if you’re used to running in the area. From there you’re led to the Swamp Rabbit Trail Greenway, the trail is a nice downward slope so you really feel like you’re flying for the next 3 miles. Hopefully your racing strategy still has you racing rather conservatively as you can feel where the course flattens back out around mile 7. If you did things right, you’re pretty set for the back half of the race. If you’re like our author here and went out a bit too fast, hold on to your Peter Cottontail, the back half is gonna be rough. You got nothing but your own determination and the crowds getting you through the back half as it’s all flat.

The last 5k are where things get serious. The crowds are picking up and you can hear more cheering. What you’re not told is there are a few tiny roller hills here as you’re weaving under bridges. This doesn’t sound that bad given the roller hills in the beginning until you remember that you’re 11 miles in, your legs are on fire! It makes the tiny inclines feel infinitely worse. At long last you’re seeing the crowds and cheering really build so you know you’re almost at the finish. But wait, there’s another incline? That’s right, with about a ¼ mile to go there’s one last incline along with a “hare”-pin turn to the finish! If you’re told beforehand, you can power through it, hopefully you got enough left in the tank to fight that last .2! After that, you’re truly done!

If you stuck around for the after party, you got to meet up with fellow club members at the tent and talk about your racing experience and awards. A few of our speedy members earned top placements!
Half Marathon
Nathan Beamguard… 1st Grandmaster
Matt Grannis… 2nd 45-49
Dana Bishop… 3rd 50-54
Ed Flowers… 1st 60-64
John Anderson… 2nd 60-64
Keith Miller… 1st 65-69

Tim Doran…1st Grandmaster
Dan Marazita…2nd 55-59
Pam Flowers…2nd 60-64
Frances Miller… 1st 65-69

As previously mentioned, a handful of our club members placed well during both races. A number of other club racers may not have placed, but were plenty “hoppy” with their results as they put on some big PR’s (personal record for those unfamiliar). Dana Bishop was happy with her 5 minute, 30 second drop in half marathon time to 1:46:18. She also remarked being incredibly thankful for being able to place 3rd in her Age Group as that group was very competitive. 2nd-4th place were within seconds of each other. Dana was able to pull into 3rd in the end but her competitor was right on her tail. Rob Erhardt mentioned being proud of his PR as well having finished under 90 minutes! He dropped about 6 minutes from his previous best of 1 hour, 35 minutes and some change. With the conditions of race day being almost perfect, he felt pretty confident running out with the 1:30:00 pacer. Rob did so well that he was actually maintaining a faster pace than the 1:30:00 pacer up until mile 11. At that point the pacer caught up and the two exchanged friendly remarks while Rob hung on as best he could for the last 2 miles. While the pacer still finished in front of him, Rob did achieve a finishing time of sub 90 minutes, so perhaps the pacer did his job a bit too well. We had one particular racer come in with a mega PR. Marisa Browning improved her personal best by 18 minutes and 39 seconds finishing with a time of 1:56:32! She was proud of this accomplishment as this is only her second half marathon. Round of kudos to you three!

Many of us saw the race itself as the highlight of the weekend while others enjoyed having the chance to hang out with fellow club members. In typical racer fashion, some chose to stick around after the race to support peer members who may have placed or cheered on other finishing runners. Others chose to go back to their rooms to freshen up and take post race naps. After the race was a great opportunity to roam around the city and check out some of the local restaurants and shops. Dana Bishop chose to take a trip with her husband to get a pic of the Swamp Rabbit statue that you pass during the race then got some sweet tooth refreshing dessert at Old Europe Coffee and Desserts. That evening the group gathered for more camaraderie and some celebratory post race drinks. The vivacious restaurant scene offered by downtown Greenville was the perfect environment for our runners who definitely built up a voracious appetite after a race like that!

This race sounds like a dream come true! Speedy, net negative downhill, close to Winston-Salem… it’s almost too perfect. Weren’t there any hiccups? There were a few unexpected moments in the event, but they were few and far between. A highly mentioned dislike of the race was the crowded and slightly unorganized start. On the upside, that crowd lasted for less than a mile before the course opened up and the herd thinned. So if you can be patient for 1 mile, you’ll have the opportunity to run your race and potentially snag your own new personal best.

One other thought worth mentioning was posed by Rob Erdhart. Rob expressed that he wished he’d paid more attention to hydration. Due to crowding, he skipped the first aid station. At the second aid station he fumbled the cup. The third aid station was an unofficial station put on by a local church who happened to be handing out styrofoam cups which cracked when Rob grabbed one. He didn’t get a sip of water until 7.5 miles in! “Need to work on my coordination I guess,” said Rob. Definitely something to consider as part of your race strategy if you plan to make the trip next year.

Overall, Swamp Rabbit was a big success. Our runners have every intention to return to either Swamp Rabbit for another go to be a fast little rabbit or try out more of Twin City Track Club’s destination races as they come. Which brings us to our last point. Twin City Track Club is in the midst of planning a fall destination race for 2024, but will need help with future ideas. We want your help deciding the next TCTC Destination Races! Be on the lookout in your emails for a chance to share your suggestions for TCTC’s next team race!