The Little Tybee Conquest Beach Run is in the books! The first running event ever on Little Tybee Island, Ga. happened on Saturday, August 17, 2013! Getting to the race date was quite a ride, though!
The idea, the dream, the reality…
The Little Tybee Island Conquest started as an idea this past May. After a little googling I learned that the DNR managed this beautiful barrier island. Before I contacted the DNR, though, I set up a facebook page to see if there was any interest on holding a race on Little Tybee Island which is only accessible by boat or by swimming if you are a strong swimmer. The response was an overwhelming ‘Yes!’. So, I contacted the DNR and a couple of days later Mr. Lee from DNR contacted me inquiring more information about this race – what it’s about, why I want to hold it on Little Tybee, when would I want to hold it, how many people would participate, – and such. After many back and forth emails and several back and forth phone calls I got the green light but the race would have to be small! I was cool with that.
The DNR was very specific in that they wanted the impact on the island minimized as much as possible and, they wanted us to convey a message to all about the need for conservation and taking care of this amazing beautiful gem of an island called Little Tybee Island. I was overjoyed, to say the least!
The DNR and I were on the same page! This island is open to the public and, we have a right to enjoy it but we also have a responsibility and obligation to care for this island as if it were a child of ours.
Little Tybee Island is a nesting ground for loggerhead sea turtles and also for myriad species of sea birds. This is a wild island that belongs to the wild critters and we can go there but we need to remember that although, no humans live on that island lots of wild critters call it home and require this island for their very existence. This truth was not lost on me nor was it lost on any of the folks that were interested in being a part of this ground breaking event on Little Tybee island. We showed up on Little Tybee this past Saturday and ran the race and then left the island better than we had found it by removing not just our own generated trash but trash that had either washed ashore or had been left there by former human visitors.
A major glitch!
After Captain Randy had dropped off most of us at a spot called Jack’s Cut, which would be our start and finish for the race, he proceeded down the coast of Little Tybee with three volunteers with their kayaks onboard that would play lifeguards in the swiftly moving waters of the 3rd channel, almost at the turn-around spot of the race. A bit of confusion ensued and our kayak volunteers were dropped off at the wrong mark. This unfortunate mistake would end up causing confusion to me as the race director and to the runners. Due to this mishap not all of the runners reached the original turn-around and, runners were put in an uncomfortable dilemma where they had to decide if crossing the last channel (which was the widest and had the swiftest current) without the security of our kayak life guards was a risk worth taking. Some of the runners that were not strong swimmers chose wisely not to. That channel crossing is tough and if you lack the confidence as a swimmer you really have no business crossing it when no one is around to aid you should you run into trouble. As race director, I made the decision to say that runners could turn around at the 3rd channel crossing but by the time that decision filtered down to the majority of the runners most of them had swum across it and had turned around at the original spot.
It’s very unfortunate that we experienced this logistical mistake because it caused unnecessary confusion which in the end impacted our runners. We will NOT make a mistake like this AGAIN! Our runners should expect nothing but excellence from us! They did not receive the excellence they paid for and deserved.
I sincerely apologize to the runners that were impacted due to this mistake. There is really no way that I can make it up to you except to promise that it will not happen again. I can try to make the injury less irritable to those impacted by offering you a free registration to any event held by Run 4 a Reason. You know my email. Shoot me an email and I’ll either reimburse you on any upcoming Run 4 a Reason event (if you’ve already registered for one) or give you a free coupon to the race of your choosing. Again, I am really sorry this happened.
Aside from that major glitch the race continued and all of the runners finished it strong and, happy.
It had stormed something fierce the night before the race and the weather reports were not painting a very rosy outlook for the morning’s race. Before going to bed the night before, I said my prayers and accepted that what the weather dished out in the morning was out of my control. I slept soundly until 5:00 am when my alarm woke me up. I poked my head outside, – no rain! It was game time!
At 8:40 am, I gave the pre-race briefing. At 8:50 am, Mrs. Lara Zoeller sang the National Anthem beautifully. At 9:00 am, the race started.
The amazing Mrs. Groves
Somewhere between 8:15 and 8:30, my volunteer coordinator began feeling a little antsy. She had perfectly managed the volunteer affairs and there wasn’t much more to do than simply wait around for the race to start and finish. I cannot remember if she approached me about running the race or if I did but one thing was certain, – she wanted to run it and I could tell! And, I wanted her to run it! I encouraged her to do it and, around 8:30 Mrs. April Groves asked if it was really okay for her to run the race. I enthusiastically said, “Yes!” April took my bandana and I took her LowCountry Ultras cap and the rest was history.
1:52:36 later, Mrs. Groves crossed the finish line taking first place female! I was thrilled! My volunteer coordinator took care of her job, ran the Little Tybee Conquest finishing first female and then continued her job as the volunteer coordinator! Who can pull something off like that? Mrs. April Groves can, that’s who! She is the most over-achieving person I know!
Later on, as we awaited the boat taxi to pick us up and take us back to Tybee Island I asked April, “Is there anything you cannot do?” She smiled mischievously and said, “I cannot sing.” I laughed out loud.
The first place male award went to Luke Boswell with a finishing time of 1:31:12. Hot on his heels was my good friend, Bren Tompkins. These two men ran together almost the entire race. They helped each other out during the channel crossings and waited til the other made it safely across before continuing on. In the end, though, this was a race and they ran hard! Mr. Boswell crossed the finish line incredibly strong! After Mr. Tompkins crossed the finish line he congratulated Luke. Bren and I talked about his run while we awaited for other runners to cross the finish line and he told me that he and Luke were running hard but in the end Luke just had a stronger kick and Bren could not catch him. ”Luke earned the win”, Bren exclaimed.
As it became evident that Mrs. Groves was approaching the finish line, Bren immediately ran to a cooler, withdrew a cold Corona Light and when April crossed the finish line he handed her the open beer.
That’s Bren for you. He is truly a gentleman and, no one has him beat as a true sportsmen!
One by one, each runner crossed the finish line, twelve runners total. All of these runners did something that no one had ever done before, they ran the very first race ever on Little Tybee Island! Who knows how many more running events will take place on Little Tybee island in the future but one thing is certain, these twelve badasses were the very first ones to run it! They are true trail blazers!
I’m so proud of all of them! And, I’m thankful that they showed up and gave it their all.
I’m also so incredibly thankful to all of the volunteers that gave up their Saturday to help with this event. They worked on this event as if they were getting paid for it. Thank you all!
This race became a reality because of so many amazing, wonderful people! From our volunteers, to the DNR and right down to the runners, – you guys awesome! Thank you for bringing this race to life!
Let’s make it happen again next year!
Thanks for stopping by.