Bring It to the Bay
- story by LB Kovac, photos by Ellis Anderson
Picture this: A half-marathon race where runners watch the sun coming up over miles of open coastline. Pristine, sandy beaches. Herons, gulls, and pelicans. The best landscapes that the Mississippi coast has to offer.
Welcome to the 4th annual Bring It to the Bay Half-Marathon, a 13.1 mile run through Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian, slated for March 18, 2017.
Helene Loiacano, race director for the Bring It to the Bay Half-Marathon, is a runner herself. “I’ve run over fifty half-marathons,” she says. She knows that a packed race and a route that lacks interesting scenery can be frustrating.
Loiacano kept that in mind when designing the race course. “As a runner, I kept in mind every facet of the race when laying it out. [I kept thinking] what did I love about this other race?”
And she applied her experience to the Bring It to the Bay Half-Marathon.
Talk of the Town
The runners will then turn onto the Bay St. Louis Bridge, where they will be treated to nearly two miles of sweeping vistas and aerial views of the bay and its coastlines.
Runners in the race’s 5K portion will turn around before the bridge’s “hump,” but half-marathoners will be treated to a challenging hill before continuing into Pass Christian. There, they will get to see more of Mississippi’s beaches, before being treated to a second pass at the Bay St. Louis Bridge.
At the end of the race, Loiacano promises a “great after-party.” Medals, race shirts, swag, delicious food, drinks, and, of course, beer. And you don’t have to worry about empty kegs or depleted food stock at this race – last year’s race had about five hundred entrants.
Music will also be playing on the race’s stage. Last year’s after-party continued well into the night, with racers enjoying some of Bay St. Louis’ finest eating and drinking establishments.
Later in the morning, the entertainment continues as Arts Alive!, the Bay’s annual arts festival, will be taking over the streets of Old Town. The event lasts until dusk, featuring demonstrating artists, musical and theatrical performances, a writing contest and a culinary competition.
Many aspects of this race are a runner’s dream - from the scenic views to the interesting townscapes to the arts festival. But if that isn’t enough to get your legs moving, consider the great cause behind Bring It to the Bay Half-Marathon: the profits from the race go to local law enforcement departments, where the money will be used to purchase “wish list” items, such as improved bullet-proof vests. First responders like police officers, EMS, and fire department officers are also given a discount on their race entries.
Bring It to the Bay Half-Marathon (and 5K) will take place March 18, 2017, at 7am, starting in Bay St. Louis. Runners and walkers are welcome, with the cut-off time being four hours. Dogs are allowed on leashes. Registration for the race is open online until March 11.
If this is your first half-marathon, Loiacano has some advice: “Be pretty hydrated. Not just the day before the race.” Be sure to drink lots of water in the weeks leading up to the race, getting your body fully-charged for those hours of beautiful, gulf-side running.
Also, “don’t try anything new the night before the race,” says Loiacano.
Just rely on your training, and maybe the spectacular view, to get you through those 13.1 miles.