One of my favorite parts of being a runner is running races. I love the atmosphere, the excitement and the sense of accomplishment when I’m finished. However, it can be tough deciding which races should get your hard earned money. I feel like I’ve read one disastrous race recap / review after the other lately and heard quite a bit of negative things surrounding various poor planned races (ahem, Diva, I’m looking at you!). Here are three tips on how to choose a race that won’t have you swearing “never again” once you cross the finish line.
1. The internet is your friend. If you are considering a race (especially if it’s a new race), google it. Seek out race reviews. Examine the course to make sure that you won’t be running 6.2 miles in a parking lot (a la the Biggest Loser 10k in DC). Nowadays it’s unlikely that the race has not been reviewed by someone. Even a brand new race probably debuted in another city. What if the race is brand new and debuting in your city? That leads us to number 2…
2. Use your common sense. Just because a race seems cool is no reason to do things you’d never normally do. For example , it might not be the smartest idea to sign up for a race that doesn’t start until 9:30 on a hot DC July day*. You KNOW that’s going to be miserable – just say no. Also, take into account your personal circumstances. If, for example, you have a week long work conference that involves early mornings and late nights, you probably shouldn’t run a half marathon the day after you return home from travel. Not that I did that or anything. Ahem.
3. Don’t forget to seek out smaller races. Often, folks are drawn to gigantic races for the glitz and name and all the swag that may come with it. However, sometimes smaller races are just much more easy to navigate. They are typically cheaper as well, which is an important consideration because running races gets to be an expensive habit quickly! Check your local running store or running club for some smaller races. In the DC area, I recommend Pacers - both the store and their races. In fact, I’m running a Pacers race this Saturday!
So there you have it. I hope these tips will help you decide if a particular race is worth it or should be passed on.
* Note: The primary reason I chose to NOT run Biggest Loser was that late 9:30am start time in July in DC. I think I literally laughed out loud when I read that – who starts a race in the summer that late?!
What are your tips for choosing a race? Have you ever had any bad experiences?