With all of the races that are held across the U.S. each year, it can be near impossible to actually narrow it down to a race that you want to run. After all, I think most of them sound pretty awesome and if I could, I would add a lot more to my racing schedule. If only I had a money tree… 🙂
So with all of the races, and a limited budget, picking a race can be a little more difficult than you would think. There are a few things that you should ask yourself before you hit the “pay” button…
What’s the experience of the race organizers? It’s okay to be skeptical about things, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. There has been a rash of races that have been canceled at the last minute, most often found in the “adventure” race segment.
Do some digging and learn about the race organizers… especially for longer distance races like marathons that require more coordination. Working with experienced race organizers makes a world of difference.
What does the course look like? A terrible course will make me immediately feel down on the entire experience. There’s a race in Austin that I’ve heard about that runs straight through suburban neighborhoods; you know, where all of the houses look exactly the same. Just the thought of that makes me shudder. But hey, for some people, it might be the best thing ever! And others may think I’m crazy that I like to look for courses that have some hills for some extra diversity.
How big is the race? Adding to the race experience comes the size of the race. If you aren’t the type of person that likes to run smaller races, you likely won’t want to choose that for your race. And, if you are aiming for a PR, you probably don’t want to choose a race that has a crowded course.
What do you get for your registration? I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, but it seems like race registration fees are getting more and more expensive… and I want to know that it’s going to good use. I will likely never run the NYC Marathon again simply because it’s way too much $$$ for one race. One of the reasons why I love the Houston Marathon so much is partially because of all the swag you get for your registration fee… it’s pretty awesome (two shirts, a mug, medal, free buffet after the race).
Does it fit with your goals? This is the most important one in my eyes! There are so many times when I want to run a race (like this weekend’s Cap10k in Austin) and I know that I can’t because of bigger goals that I have in front of me. Sometimes it’s easy to get distracted by something happening in the immediate future… but don’t let it demolish your chance of hitting your goals. Stay focused! The race will always be there (if it’s worth running) so you will always have next year or the year after.
What do you take into consideration when picking a race? What’s your number one priority?
When and what is your next race?
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