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A Seaside Run in Charleston
At the beginning of December, daytime highs on Kiawah Island are in the lower 60s. Not exactly bathing suit weather, but it is ideal for a marathon. The 10,000-acre island just under an hour’s drive from Charleston has held its marathon since 1977. This year, it takes place on Saturday, December 9. The course starts in the island’s East Village and follows a route through salt marshes and past some of Kiawah’s grand homes. For competitors used to running in big cities, it can feel like a literal breath of fresh air.

Betty Jo Currie of Currie & Co., a member of the AFAR Travel Advisory Council, can get you to the starting line, as well as factor in time to see some of Charleston’s sites before and after the big race.
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    Day 1
    Arrival and Pre-Run Preparations
    You’ll spend the first two nights of your trip on Kiawah Island, at accommodations on the resort. You can choose from either The Sanctuary or one of the private homes or villas—an ideal option if you are running with friends. Take this day to relax at the resort, except for a short training run, and then head to the pre-race buffet at the Sanctuary when you’ll get to meet fellow runners while enjoying the meal prepared by the Kiawah Island kitchens.
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    Day 2
    Marathon Day
    Race time is at 8 a.m. and the route starts at East Beach Conference Center, just a half mile from The Sanctuary. While the routes of the marathon and half-marathon may vary, typically runners head east, along tree-shaded streets that pass scenic island views. At the end of the run, a celebration includes a bounty of food from Kiawah Island’s chefs including organic and gluten-free pasta as well as Palmetto Pale Ale, Angry Orchard Hard Cider, and other drinks.

    Perhaps needless to say, the afternoon and evening are at your leisure. You’ve earned it. When it comes time for dinner, Kiawah Island Resort has a dozen different options to choose from whether you want to celebrate with a simple burger or a steak dinner.
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    Day 3
    Explore Kiawah or Charleston
    December is an ideal time to explore Kiawah by kayak or on a nature walk; you’ll not need to worry about escaping the heat of the midday sun. Kayaking expeditions include easier routes through the creeks of the salt marsh appropriate even for novices while more experienced kayakers may want to sign up for the Surf Kayaking Rodeo and face off with the ocean waves. Bike rentals and nature trails make it a breeze for guests to explore the island, perhaps in search of some of the many bird species that can be found here. If you’re more interested in getting a look at the alligators also found here, we recommend you sign up for a gator tour with an experienced naturalist.

    If you prefer to explore Charleston for the day instead, Betty Jo can suggest an itinerary based on your interests. And if you’d rather do nothing but experience South Carolina with one of Pat Conroy’s novels in the lobby of The Sanctuary or the living room of your house rental, who are we to judge!
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    Day 4
    Return Home
    If you have more than a long weekend in South Carolina, Betty Jo can customize this trip to add in a stay at a downtown Charleston hotel as well as detours to the plantations and other sites nearby. Otherwise, after breakfast you will check out and return home, with another marathon under your belt.