As this post/episode is released, I’m a week out from running the 7 Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
I’m not one for writing a detailed race recap of my performance on race day. So if that’s what you’re looking for…
Yeah, I’m not really that sorry.
What I am up for doing is sharing my perspective on the 7 Bridges Marathon as someone that has just run the race.
What things does this race get right? Where could they improve?
So that’s what I’m doing today.
I’m giving the basics below, but the podcast will have much more detail (ie I’ll probably be rambling like a mofo). So if you want the full scoop, make sure you press play above!
(And if you’re not already subscribed to the show on your phone, get on it eh?)
The 7 Bridges Marathon
The 7 Bridges Marathon was a bit of a mixed bag for me.
The race does plenty of things well. However, in my opinion at least, there are some areas where this race could improve.
So let’s get to it, shall we?
Travelling to Chattanooga isn’t that difficult.
Both I-75 and I-24 run through town, so whichever direction you’re coming from you can take the interstate all the way to Chattanooga.
If you’re flying, there is a small airport in town that services a few different airlines. Chattanooga is also located less than two hours from both Atlanta and Nashville. So you can always fly into either of those cities and drive from there.
And not for nothing, but the drive from Nashville is much prettier than the drive from Atlanta.
Once you get to Chattanooga, be prepared to pay for parking.
I wish I was kidding.
I hate paying for parking. But anywhere you go in Chattanooga, at least anywhere downtown, there are no free lots and every street parking spot has a meter.
Apparently you don’t have to pay for the meters on the weekends, but you do still have to pay if you park in a lot.
Once we got to town, we mostly just walked everywhere.
And on race day, we had MVP parking which allowed us to park in the lot closest to the start/finish for free.
As Jay Nevans, the 7 Bridges Marathon race director, said when he was on the show, the course would not be considered hilly by East Tennessee standards.
That doesn’t mean there werent some climbs, because there were, but it wasn’t ridiculous.
Most of the climbs were the result of needing to get from along the river up to one of the bridges, but there were also a couple of other decent hills along the way as well.
The worst of which was, of course, at about the 25 mile mark!
It was a killer, but it made the last mile or so feel a bit easier, since once you crest the hill it’s mostly flat with a little downhill to the finish.
But enough of the little details, let’s talk bridges.
I’m not going to lie, I was a little meh about most of the bridges.
I don’t know that I had realistic expectations, but when I was thinking about the 7 Bridges Marathon I had visions of running across nothing but neat/interesting/fun bridges.
A few of the bridges met my expectations, but a few of the bridges were more or less major roadways that crossed the river.
Were they still bridges? I reckon.
But they weren’t the romantic vision of a bridge that I had in mind going into the race.
Beyond the bridges, the course was fine.
We ran along the riverwalk for much of the race, and the riverwalk had areas with sculptures and proper bathrooms.
There were also several stretches of running along the edge of the road, with not nearly as much to enjoy from a scnery perspective. Also, many of the roads weren’t closed to traffic. The roads that were open typically had a lane closed, so we had plenty of buffer space between us and the cars.
The expo for the 7 Bridges Marathon was small.
I think there may have only been about six or seven booths/vendors set up.
Needless to say, it didn’t take long for runners to go through the expo.
Packet pickup was available on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning (before the race).
When it comes to the post-race festivities, I think the 7 Bridges Marathon has some serious room for improvement.
The biggest issue I had was the food.
The post race options were spagetti and Little Debbie Honey Buns.
Not exactly two things that I would eat, even after running 26.2 miles.
Thankfully, Beks and I had bracelets for the VIP area. In the VIP building, I pretty much had as much fruit and cheese that I could choose from.
Needless to say, that was appreciated.
There were also a bunch of cookies and cupcakes and some other things that had way too much flour in them for me to even think about eating them, but at least there were a few things I could eat afterward.
The post-race amenities also included free 10-minute massages, so I was able to get a little calf work done after the race.
The coffee selection in the VIP area was poor as well. There was a Keurig, but no k-cups of just plain coffee!
There were all manner of flavors and hot chocolate, but no coffee flavored coffee!
No complaints about the bling at all.
I’m not sure what it would take to get me to complain about volunteers at a race.
The volunteers at the 7 Bridges Marathon were great.
Everyone was friendly and incredibly helpful, from start to finish.
We stayed at one of the host hotels for the 7 Bridges Marathon, the Staybridge Suites, and it was quite nice.
Had a free breakfast in the morning, which is always a good thing.
Though for my fellow HFLC runners, the options were pretty slim (as you would expect).
The Staybridge Suites also had a pool and hot tub. The workout room was small but had a decent mix of dumbbells which I don’t often see at a hotel fitness center. They also had two treadmills and two ellipticals. Would have been nice to have a bike, but it is what it is.
The only real problem with the Staybridge Suites, aside from the fact that you had to pay for parking and you know how I feel about paying for parking, is that it was about a mile walk from the start/finish line and all of the race festivities.
There were a couple of hotels that were a bit closer, but as far as I could tell any hotel was going to require at least a half a mile walk to get to the start area.
One option that I thought we would explore but didn’t was the City of Chattanooga’s bike share program.
The Staybridge Suites had a bike rack right outside the front doors, and I believe those bikes can be rented for a small daily fee. And there were bike kiosks all over town, at least the areas where we walked, so getting around without paying for parking was doable.
The 7 Bridges Marathon also provides free race photos, which is always a nice touch in my opinion.
The 7 Bridges Marathon was a good race, though it’s far from perfect.
I don’t expect any race to be perfect on every front, but the “food” choices for runners after the race really left a lot to be desired.
I know that my dietary choices aren’t exactly “common” in the running world just yet, but when there is literally nothing I can/would eat at the end of a race that’s a problem.
There wasn’t even any fruit (that I saw) available, for crying out loud!
The fact that the bridges weren’t as romantic as I envisioned is something I can get past. Same with the monster hill at mile 25.
But not having at least one food item available for anyone with gluten sensitivities/allergies is inexcusable.
When it comes down to it, I think the 7 Bridges Marathon gets enough right that I would run the race again in the future.
And from what I saw of Chattanooga, the city seems like a great place to spend a long weekend.
So if you’re looking for a race in the fall in 2019, I would definitely encourage you to give the 7 Bridges Marathon a chance.
Have You Ever Run the 7 Bridges Marathon? What are Your Thoughts on This Race?
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