Packet Pick-up: Easy to find with lots of friendly volunteers to answer questions. The vendor booths were a little disappointing to me, but this was a smaller race so not a huge deal.Race Day: -Unexpectedly colder (39°F) which actually felt great! -Marathoners started before half marathoners which was amazing. -Lots of port-a-potties & actual park bathrooms on the race route. -Plenty of aid stations with items like water, Gatorade, fruits, & gummy bears -There were some hills, but if you live in this area or train for them, you should be fine. -My only negative would be the inability for my family (or really any spectators) to get to me at any other point on the race route other than the starting/finish line. It made it difficult to get my extra fuel, & having support on miles 20-26 would've been helpful. -Finish line was full of snacks, the rhino medal, water bottle filled with water, & towel. *Overall a great race if you like a smaller atmosphere (like 300 or so) and don't mind the hills. Thank you 7 Bridges for being my 1st marathon:)
This was my first half marathon that was not in Cincinnati and I found it pretty disappointing. The expo was almost nonexistent and the race T-shirt was poorly designed and a ugly green color. The city of Chattanooga is a whole is a city that once I spent time there I asked myself "why is this a city I know of" because there really was not much in this small city. While running, the race was alright at best, but the best part was going over multiple bridges. The two things that soured my opinion of this race was the medal was lame and poorly designed. The major issue I had however was the race was measured wrong and the half was too short and the full was too long. This mistake has stuck with me and feels like the most basic mistake to avoid. The most enjoyable part as this was a smaller race and felt like there were more runners at my pace than at a more elite pace.
This was my second year running and pacing the 7 Bridges Marathon. Both years I have paced the 5:45 group and this year I paced by myself. This year was a lot warmer than last year hitting close to 80, and quite humid, but still had great views of the river, city, bridges, galore. I really enjoy this race and think it's especially good for a first time marathoner. It's rolling hills but generally pretty fast course. The race has several thousand runners but only a few hundred run the marathon. It was pretty quiet on most of the course, so having a larger marathon field with more crowd support is probably the one thing that would make this race better. Pros: - Parking/access - there's plenty of pay lots and street parking all around downtown Chattanooga. If you head to the start early you're more likely to find street parking which is free on Sundays. I was able to park for free right at the start/finish. - Pace teams - I may be biased but I think we're pretty awesome. - Expo - for a relatively small outdoor expo, they did a nice job with a dozen or so local vendors. They had a card you got marked at each vendor to then be eligible for a raffle prize. - Swag - very cool, gender specific race shirt, hat, towel, HUGE medal - LOTS of bathrooms at the start - Post race waffles - duh - Aid stations every mile is a nice benefit. Each station was pretty small, but they were well stocked. I took a star off for this because they had very few volunteers and it appeared many of them had never worked an aid station at a race before. Bless their hearts. Cons: -Aid station volunteers were very nice but not so great at actually handing out aid. Most of them were high school kids so I guess this makes sense. :-)
My friend asked me to help her pace the 5:45 pace team at 7 Bridges. Even though I raced Chicago the week before I felt that the 5:45 pace would be fun and, selfishly, a great way for me to qualify for Marathon Maniacs. Also, I LOVE Chattanooga and any excuse to run there is good enough for me. I heard good things about this race so, all around, it felt like a good idea. Honestly, it was a great idea. The course is great with rolling terrain. I took off 1 star due to a few miles on highway type roads with some off camber running (which I hate); this was pretty minor though. Also, there was an abundance of aid on this course. Water stops were advertised for every mile but it honestly felt like there were even more than that. The stops were small but had everything needed: water, Gatorade, gels, bananas, oranges, pickle juice, and very nice volunteers. You can easily run this race without carrying anything. The race shirt and medal are really nice. The medal is HUGE! I don't race for medals but it was still a nice improvement over the lame medal I got the week earlier in Chicago. Sometimes small races do the best job with swag and this race was no exception. I have to take off 1 star for race management. While the marathon was well managed and our mile markers were perfect (which was very helpful for our pacing), the half marathon was accidentally cut short (due to miscommunication maybe? I've only been able to see the comments on FB from angry people so the story may be skewed) by half mile. I have a feeling this is an issue that will be easily resolved and will not happen again. Overall, I had a great race experience. The weather was amazing. Clear sunny sky, 40 at the start and went up to 60 degrees with a bit of wind, but nothing terrible. At the 5:45 pace we were joined by several first-time marathoners. If you ever have the opportunity to pace a race I highly recommend it; bringing people on their first 26.2 journey is a privilege and makes for a fun experience.
I chose 7 Bridges for my 7th marathon and I am so glad I did! I have never run a race in TN and we researched several before finding this one. Located in Chattanooga, TN, this race offers runners a chance to run over 7 different bridges crisscrossing over the TN river. Not only was the course beautiful, but it was a bit challenging too. The start of the race is at dark, which I prefer. It was the perfect way to see the city lit up and to cross a few bridges just as the sun was coming up. Most of the course is concrete which was a challenge and I felt it after the race on my back and joints. There are a few places of significant climbs up to the bridges (mile 15-16) and mile 25 (hilly and steep!). Other than that, the course was mostly rolling along the city streets and greenway section. The course was well marked, although my Garmin and mile markers were off, but that's expected. I'm not a good tangent runner. The aid stations were plentiful, about every mile and fully stocked with not only water and Gatorade, but food. Mile 23's pickle juice was a huge hit with me! The shirts were nice and different. Love that they have words and pictures from areas on the course. Definitely unique! They offer women's and men's sizes and allowed you to pick your size at the packet pickup. We also got a huge poster of the city with the turns for the course at the bottom. Really cool! As far as other merchandise to purchase, it was pretty limited and from previous years. I really wanted to get an every day shirt to wear with the race logo, no luck! The medal is huge and spins! All runners also received a filled water bottle at the finish line which was such a great touch! Overall, my two complaints would be with the timing and finish line pictures. I finished (and PR'ed) but my time was not recorded. It was a frustration! It took about an hour for the timing company to figure it out, but they were nice and professional about it. And finally, I have no finish line picture. Nothing. I was bummed when I went through the pictures (which were free), but I didn't have one at the finish line. I saw the photographer with his camera, but he was checking the screen and not taking any pictures. There were a handful of us that came in at the same time and they didn't have pictures either. All in all, I would recommend this race to anyone who wants a great city to visit while running a race. Chattanooga is amazing!! We definitely ate our way through that city. :)
I love this race so much. I had never explored Chattanooga before so this was a first. I lived in Michgan at the time and drove down to run the race with a couple friends. We both got our best time even though it was a very very hilly race. They were having an octoberfest downtown at the same time so that was fun to go to!!!
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