Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Mississippi Gulf Coast Half Marathon to evaluate as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews.
I closed out my 2023 race calendar by running the Mississippi Gulf Coast Half Marathon on December 10 in Biloxi, MS. I crossed Mississippi off my 50 states journey. While I have family in Mississippi, I have never visited the Gulf coast area. How did the race go?
I stayed at the Margaritaville Hotel, the host hotel and location of the expo. The expo was in the parking lot of hotel and was small with a few vendors. That was great for my pocket. Packet pick up was quick and the swag included the bib, a drawstring bag, and a tee-shirt. The expo also had a participant name wall, one of my favorite race features.
I took a few pictures with the props and the left the expo to explore the city.
The day started cold and rainy, but the rain stopped before we started. The race has a point to point course. The marathon and half marathon were 26.2 and 13.1 miles away from the finish, respectively. Having the two starting points reduced the amount of people at the start and throughout the race, but we also didn't have a chance to see the marathon runners. As a result of the course set up, we were transported to the start by shuttles from the hotel. I caught a 5:30 am shuttle and hung out with friends until the 7 a.m start time. Both races had a 6 hour time limit.
The course was completely flat, which was nice change for me. I knew it had the potential to be a fast race, but I also struggle with Achilles issues when I run on prolonged flatness due to my lack of training on that type of terrain. I decide to run intervals and enjoy the course. This also preserved my heels. The water stops were frequent enough that there was really no need to bring your own hydration, though I did since I like drinking Ultima. I even took pictures along the away (something I rarely do during races). There were some interesting things, from astonauts to a lighthouse, to see along the way.
We ran down Highway 90 for 13.1 miles. I am familiar with Highway 90 since it runs through my hometown in FL. We ran up an overpass at mile 11, which was the only place of elevation during the race. The heels rejoiced as we climbed the ramp. The race ended at the MGM Park and was a huge post-race party. I finished in 2:38:58, which was a great time to end this year's racing season. One of the coolest things about the race is that they pinned our finishing time in a YouTube video of the finish line.
The medal was a turtle, my favorite animal. The post-race party was at a stadium and despite the stairs was fun. There was food, drinks, and merchandise for purchase. Shuttle service was not offered at the finish, so thankfully I was able get a ride with Eric B., my fellow BRP, back to the hotel. Check out was at 11 am and I didn't want to pay an additional fee for a late check out.
Overall, I enjoyed the race. I put a stamp on Mississippi for the 50 states journey. My only suggestions for improvement would be to offer shuttles at the finish and to negotiate a later check out with the host hotel, especially for the marathon runners. .