For many runners, choosing which race to run is almost as important as running the race itself. Some people like to participate in “destination” races, while others prefer to sleep in their own beds the night before a big race. Terrain, topography, and weather are important factors, as well. Numerous considerations should go into choosing the perfect race for an individual, which are listed below.
When choosing a race to train for, the race should be at least 2 – 4 months in the future, depending on your present fitness level and training. For a marathon, 3 – 4 months of training is recommended for safe participation, while a half marathon requires 2 – 3 months of preparation, and 1 – 2 months for a 10k.
Some runners prefer to race in large crowds while others enjoy solitude. Take a look at the field size and decide whether running elbow-to-elbow or having large expanses of open road is more your style. Crowd size is typically proportional to field size, so if you enjoy the excitement that a large crowd provides, stick with a larger race.
When choosing a race, location is very important. Factors such as ease of travel, nearby amenities, and typical weather patterns should be considered. Also bear in mind that traveling from a cold climate to a warm one can be difficult without heat acclimation. For instance, if living in Toronto, a marathon in Hawaii may not be practical.
Be realistic about your goals and what will set you up for the greatest success. Trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon? Look at factors such as course topography and previous results. If trying to run sub-3:05:00, for instance, be sure that multiple people run under that time standard every year, and that you would not have to be making a solo effort in order to qualify. If your only goal is to finish and have fun, consider running a race where participants are encouraged to dress up or run for a charity.
Registration fees vary drastically among races. Marathons can range anywhere from $60 USD to $300 USD. Additionally, hotel costs and travel fees vary, as well. If simply running for fun, sticking to a cheaper race may be more budget friendly; however, if attempting to run a certain time goal or standard, it may be worth paying extra.
If you are the type of runner who loves to run hills, choosing a flat race may not be practical. On the other hand, if you hate running hills, you should have a good knowledge of the course topography before signing up the race.
Before registering for a race, take time to search for online race reviews from people who have participated in the event, especially if the race is fairly new. Here you will have access to honest assessments which may make or break your decision. Factors such as race amenities, course support, and race organization are all considered.