Set for its 9th annual running this fall, Georgia’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Marathon & Half Marathon brings more than 14,000 runners and walkers each year to the streets of the city immortalized in John Berendt’s 1994 classic Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, with more than 10,000 of those finishers completing the half marathon alone.
It’s exactly that Southern charm and romance that runners will get a taste of at the race, which thankfully — for both the runners’ and the spectators’ sakes — takes place at a time when this normally hot and humid city will have cast off summer’s heat for the far milder weather of fall.
The race begins at the corner of Bull and Bay Streets in the city’s downtown historic district, known for its plentiful hotels, shops, restaurants and bars that are filled to the rafters every St. Patrick’s Day.
This time of year, however, the downtown is populated largely by tourists as well as students at the Savannah College of Art and Design, whose campus lies just blocks from where the race started.
After the start through what is a really visually interesting part of Savannah — the historic district lies just a stone’s throw from the Savannah riverfront and walk — the race heads west along Bay Street and out of downtown, into some pretty nondescript areas.
The course spends the next few miles heading mostly outside the city, through more industrial-warehouse-commercial district areas.
However, this isn’t at all disappointing, especially for runners looking to set new personal record times or for runners trying their first marathon or half marathon — this course is pretty much tailor-made for someone who’s a first-timer, as it really is one of those few race courses that’s almost completely flat for the entire 13.1 miles.