The question came in – “I have a friend who is interested in walking a half marathon. Are there any local half marathons that are walker friendly and on Sunday?”
The response “There are lots of walker friendly events, but your friend’s pace is what decides if it’s friendly for her. Local is relative 200. We drive up to 2 h ours on race morning, which rules in a lot of events or if she has some drive time Saturday night for a Sunday race.
Have her check Running in the USA website. It lets you sort by state, date, distance.
If you have a chance, speak with our Walker group and see what they recommend or have scheduled.
Races all have field time and they list it on their website so it’ll be easy for her to find races.”
While the question related to walking it is not limited to walkers. For each of us there are a host of factors that will make a race appealing or send us running in the other direction. When looking for a race, you have to decide what is most important to you in a race. Do you like flat, fast courses or do you prefer varied terrain aka hilly courses. Do you want a road or trail race or a combination? Depending on your pace or the race’s restrictions, you may need to consider course cutoff times. You also need to decide on distance and how prepared you are or how much time you have to train and will this impact a more important race you have on your schedule.
Another factor for races is location and do you have the time to get there, get your packet, run the race, rest and get home. Some races are a day trip and for others you will arrive the night before and depart as soon as you get out of your race gear. On other occasions, you will need to leave the day after the race, or decide to make a vacation out of the trip.
Whatever you decide, you need to do your homework. Know what kind of races you like and seek them out. Know your budget – how much time and money you have to spend on each race. Find out how big the field is. Some races will have more than 30,000 people or a few hundred. Can you wear headphones? What food and drink are they serving and how far apart are the aid stations. How hilly is the course and are you prepared for the hills. Knowing the hill profile also helps you manage your energy output. You may not want to go out so fast if you know you’ve got 3 or more major climbs.
While there is a lot to consider when selecting a race, you can decide to go willy-nilly and register for races just because you like the location or the swag or your buddies who are doing the race with you. If you’re the willy-nilly type, be sure to do lots of hill work so you’re ready for anything.
No matter how you pick your races, do your homework and check into the history of the race and the race management company before your register. In the last two months, there have been reports on two race management companies that have set up events, collected entry fees and then canceled, or didn’t hold the race and gave no notice. The thing about these groups is that entrants have almost no way to get their money back. For races longer than 10 miles, you can check marathonguide.com to look for races and read reviews from past participants and see how long the race has been around. For shorter races, it’s not always easy to determine if they’re legitimate. You can check to see how many years they’ve run the race, check with their charity partner or the municipality where the race will be held as all races require local permits. This may seem like a lot of work, but most of us work hard for our money and don’t want to just hand it over and get nothing for it.
Do your homework, get in your training and get to racing! If you don’t want to race, volunteer. Wait ’til you see what it’s like from the other side of a race.