How To Choose Your Next Race

I have been asked by runners and non-runners alike, how do I choose the races that I run in? To answer that question we need to break it down by race distances. First of all, let’s start with the big ones, like the marathons. I start with marathons because all my other races are scheduled around them.

Marathons (and Half marathons): first thing I think about is dates. My favorite times to run marathons are in April and early May or October and November. Typically cooler temps in the mornings making for perfect conditions depending on rain and wind. 

Next is the location. I am not big on having to travel too far. I like to keep my regular routine in the week leading up to the race, including working at least up until Thursday for a Saturday Morning marathon. So the furthest I typically want to travel is probably 4 hours by car. Which is the main reason why I stick to races in Indianapolis and parts of Michigan mostly.  
Another factor is the course. Find a course that works best for you. Look at changes in elevation for sure. 
Lastly is cost. Remember, you have to factor in entry fees, hotels, gas/travel, and food. It’s not cheap. I highly recommend registering as soon as registration opens to get the cheapest rate. Registering early also makes it more of a commitment. 
Some things that other people determine their marathons on is finishers medals and shirts. Honestly, I register for a race well before those items are released to the public so it’s not a determining factor for me.
Shorter races (5k, 10k, and 15k):

The number one factor for me when it comes to the shorter races and if I will run that event is what does the money go towards. BDo I agree with the charity? You want me to run your race? Then have the money go towards kids, Cancer research, or fitness programs such as bike/running trail development or a program like Girls on the Run. 

Here is where I will get on my soap box a little bit. After doing it for two years, my family will not do the Color Run any longer. Let’s start with the obvious, it’s $35 for a non competitive run. It is also a for profit race. They do give money to charity, but which ones? That is unknown. Basically the money donated goes to one organization and then is distributed to other charities. If I don’t know where it’s going, your not getting my money. Plus, neither of my kids even liked the Color Run last year and that’s the only reason why we did it.
Dates of the race. When is the race, does it conflict with another race? If so, refer back to my first point of where money goes to determine which race I will run. 
Reputation of the race. I say this knowing what happened at the Sarah Strong Run this year (still thinking about that one), but does the race have s reputation of meeting the runners needs, course measurement accurate, timing, and just attitude of director and volunteers.  
Overall costs. Does it cost $15 or $30. If it costs $30, do I at least get a tech shirt? 
Everyone is different on how they choose their races. What factors do you consider?

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