Tybee Run Fest returns to Tybee, Savannah fills Rock 'n' Roll void with Every Woman's Marathon

City release says 'Every Woman's Marathon' expected to bring 5,000 visitors to Savannah

The YMCA Critz Tybee Run Fest is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Feb. 2-3, 2024. It will be the third time that the race is presented by the YMCA of Coastal Georgia.

The event will retain its format, where “Friday is the taste and Saturday is the test," according to their press release. The weekend includes five races, and runners can register for one, several, or all of them. A unique aspect of the annual two-day event is that running in all five events adds up to the distance of a full marathon (26.2 miles).

“The Y is really excited to be reducing the environmental impact the race has on the island, which is a cause very close to our team and many of our board members. The Critz Tybee Run Fest is a landmark event in the community, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to continue to host it,” said Joel Smoker, CEO of YMCA of Coastal Georgia. “We’re so grateful to Dale Critz, Jr. and Critz Auto for continuing their association with the race as title sponsor.”
click to enlarge Tybee Run Fest returns to Tybee, Savannah fills Rock 'n' Roll void with Every Woman's Marathon (2)

Packet pick-up for runners will take place at the race site, near the base of the Tybee Pier, beginning on Friday at 2pm and will continue throughout the weekend. Kiddie Run participation is free but requires advance registration as participants will receive a shirt and finisher medal.

Throughout race weekend, Hoppin’ with Harkleroad Inflatables will be set up to keep kids moving and entertained, and members of the 756 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit out of Ft. Stewart—who will be running the Saturday 1-mile in bomb suits—will be set up under a tent with some of their tools, robots and personnel to describe their work to spectators.

For full race information, including how to register, visit TybeeRunFest.com. Check out the entire weekend schedule below.

Friday (Feb. 2)
Kid's Run and 5K
The Kid's Run will start at 5:30pm and the Chamacos Tacos & Surf 5K at 6pm. Awards will take place in the main tent following the 5K.

Saturday (Feb. 3)
10K, Half Marathon, 2.8 Mile Beach Run and 1 Mile
7am – Collins Quarter 10K
8:30am – Chu's Half Marathon
12pm – BankSouth 2.8 Mile Beach Run
1pm – West Construction 1 Mile Run
2pm – Run Fest Concludes

"Every Woman’s Marathon" set for November in Savannah

After 10 straight years of hosting the Rock 'N' Roll Marathon Series from 2011-2021, the running community in Savannah has been without a major road race for the last two years. On Tuesday through a press release, the city announced the debut of a new marathon coming to downtown Savannah this fall.

"The City of Savannah will once again play host to a major marathon on city streets this fall. Working with partners at Milk and Visit Savannah, the City will welcome Every Woman’s Marathon," the release says. "Milk is bringing Every Woman’s Marathon, the only U.S. marathon designed by and for women, to Savannah on Nov. 16, 2024. Every Woman’s Marathon will be a weekend of wellness and celebration, inviting runners of all levels to be marathon finishers."

In April 2022, Savannah city leaders, including Mayor Van Johnson, opted not to renew prior contracts with Rock 'N' Roll race organizers. It left a void in the racing calendar in 2022 and 2023. It may have also left a monetary void in terms of losing tourism.

According to Visit Savannah President Joe Marinelli, Rock 'N' Roll arrangements had been beneficial annually, both for the city and for the event.

"All told, these weekends have averaged approximately 15,000 to 16,000 participants each year, with estimates of another 1.7 friends and family tagging along for support," Marinelli wrote in a 2021 op-ed for the Savannah Morning News. "In many ways, this could be considered Savannah’s largest annual convention. Reports estimate $15 million to $20 million in visitor spending each year over the four-to-five days that runners are in our community."
click to enlarge Tybee Run Fest returns to Tybee, Savannah fills Rock 'n' Roll void with Every Woman's Marathon

The Every Woman's Marathon is expected to attract around 5,000 participants. Savannah officials and Every Woman's Marathon race organizers are making an effort to finalize the race route and to, as the release states, "reduce the most disruptive impacts experienced during previous marathons."

Johnson cited valuing the residents over the tourists as one of his reasons for not renewing with Rock 'N' Roll. He echoed a similar sentiment this week.

“Savannah continues making big, bold, intentional moves to expand opportunities in our community while respecting the people who make our city what it is,” said Johnson in the press release. “We are so excited to see the positive benefits Milk brings to our community with Every Woman’s Marathon coming to Savannah’s roadways this fall.”

According to the release, "the City of Savannah took an intentional pause" on hosting marathons in 2022 and 2023 in order "to focus on attracting a race that was the right fit for Savannah." It goes on to say that the "Every Woman’s Marathon fits the criteria for a low-impact, community-minded event that limits disruptions to the residents and businesses along the route. Milk will make donations to several local non-profit organizations, will pay all operational costs, and is not requesting a financial contribution from the city."

“The City of Savannah is committed to being a community first City,” Savannah City Manager Joseph A. Melder said. “This partnership with Milk brings an excellent event to Savannah with a community focus."

The race is open to all adults, male or female, aged 18-and-older. Early registration prices are $65 for runners and the event will begin on Saturday, Nov. 16 in front of Savannah City Hall. As a badge of honor, the city made clear on Tuesday that residents will be minimally impacted come race day.

"Bay Street will be open to traffic by 9am," the release says. "Runners will be clear of the Historic District by 10am on race day, there will be no vehicle towing required, and the end of the route celebration will be held on private property at Trustees Garden."

Travis Jaudon

Travis Jaudon is a general assignment reporter for Connect Savannah. He is a Savannah native and host of Hot Grits Podcast. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram, @JaudonSports. [email protected]

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