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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Marathoning part two - Choosing your marathon

Welcome to part two of Deb's marathoning series - how to choose your marathon. If you missed her first post on deciding if marathoning is for you, be sure to check it out!

Once you’ve decided on doing a marathon, your next step is to decide which one. Traditional marathon season is in the fall, with training starting in mid-summer. However, with the explosion of interest in marathoning over recent years, there are marathons in most major cities across the world, and one in every month. My first marathon ended up being the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, VT. It was one of the only local (local meaning northeastern US) spring marathons at the time. There are many, many more now.

Though the Vermont City Marathon was anything but a flat course, I do recommend a relatively flat course for your first marathon, or at the very least a course similar to the roads and trails that you’ll be training on. The Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC is a very good choice for a first marathon, just remember to register as soon as it becomes available, as it is a very popular one, and it closes very quickly.

I have now completed 6 marathons, and I am on to my 7th and 8th in 2009. Here are the ones that I have run:

Key Bank Vermont City Marathon, Burlington, VT
Fairly hilly course that runs through the city center in 4 loops. The scenery is lovely, especially through the last half where there’s a bit of trail running. The crowds are great, but a little sparse, especially when you need them. Water is available every 2 miles.

ING New York City Marathon, New York, NY

Awesome, awesome, awesome!!! I have run this marathon 3 times, and it’s great each time. The course is so interesting, running 26.2 miles through all 5 boroughs of New York City and 5 bridges. It starts on the far side of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge on Staten Island, runs over the bridge (which accounts for the first 2 miles) runs through Brooklyn and Queens, then over the Queensboro Bridge and up First Avenue in Manhattan. Then it crosses over Willis Avenue Bridge into the Bronx, back into Manhattan via the Madison Avenue Bridge, and down Fifth Avenue into Central Park to the finish line at Tavern on the Green. The crowds are great!!!

Marine Corps Marathon, Washington DC
This marathon is one of the fastest, flattest marathons, and is a great first marathon (although not my first, by far my fastest). It starts in Arlington, VA and after winding around many of the DC monuments and government buildings including the capital building, finishes at the Marine Corps War Memorial. The crowds are great (just not quite as good as New York).

Spinx Runfest Greenville Marathon
This was my most recently completed marathon, and it was really great, but I have to say, quite hilly, especially the last 6 miles—it didn’t seem fair! Seriously though, even though the course is absolutely beautiful, and Greenville is a very cute town, this would not be my recommendation for a first marathon, mostly based on the hills, the small group of runners doing the actual marathon, and the fact that it is a double loop (you do the same loop twice. I’d say out of the 1,000 runners, only about 250 were marathoners, the rest were doing the half. I would recommend this as a first marathon for local Greenville and surrounding area residents. Overall, it gets a good review from me, just not for a first.

Feeling adventurous? There is a marathon is virtually every major foreign city. My friend, Jackie has run marathons in Dublin, Ireland and Paris, France

Here are a couple of links to find your perfect marathon:

Marathonguide.com: A pretty good compilation of the marathons out there by month.

Wikipedia List of Marathon Races

Runner’s World Race Finder

THIS WEEK’S HOMEWORK: Browse the various sites available to you to find a marathon that suits you best. Take into consideration the local area, travel time, elevation of the course, and crowds. Decide on what marathon will be best for you.

Questions? Feel free to comment on my site or email me @ fromstilettostosneakers@gmail.com

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HeatherPride said...

I am in awe of people who do this! My BFF just started running 5Ks and I know it took her quite a while to work up to that. But she looks fantastic as a result of all that running!!

Felicity said...

I have a dream to be a runner one day. I could think of nothing better than just being on my own, zoning out to the rhythmic pattern of my feet on the ground.

Great post :)