I’ve made no secret of the fact that I want to run a BQ in 2020, but so far I’ve resisted signing up for any races. I mean, literally any which is so unlike me. All I have on my calendar so far in 2020 is the Brighton Half marathon.
However, with November rapidly approaching, it’s time to lock in a goal race. I’m looking for something ideally in late April/May, with a fast, flat BQ sanctioned course. I thought I’d share my thought process when trying to pick a goal race, especially now that I’ve ticked off a lot of those ‘bucket list’ races off, and now have another checklist to think about when picking my race;
Timing – Do you have time to train for the race? Depending on what kind of shape you’re in currently will depend on how early you could sign up for your spring race. Additionally, think of any trips you have planned so that you don’t overlap during peak weeks (ideally) or go skiing during taper.
Also I want to have time to run another marathon in the summer before the Boston cut off if I need to.
Price – Marathons vary so much in price, from New York City Marathon priced at a hefty $358 for non-US residents to £39 for the London Marathon (if you can get in!). You’ve also got to factor in costs of accommodation and travel to/from the race.
I love travelling abroad for races and that’s what I spend a lot of my income on (plus I am super lucky to work with races and have a husband that works for an airline!) However, it’s definitely a factor when picking my races…plus the thought of who I’d go with if it is abroad as it’s not fair to make others pay to travel for my hobby.
Travel – I’ve got a whole blog on traveling to races and dealing with jetlag/time changes, but I know I get quite a lot of flak for travelling so far to my goal races. Personally, I love it and run marathons around the world as a way of seeing new places, countries and cities that I may not have on my bucket list otherwise.
Course Profile- Undulating, downhill, flat… A race with lots of turns, an out and back or point to point. Choosing a ‘friendly’ course that suits your strengths is key if you’re looking for a PB.
It’s also worth considering if it will be easy for spectators to support you, what the hydration stations are like (and potentially what they’ll be serving!), whether there are pace groups, and what the roads will be like.
Weather – some races are notoriously hot, windy or cold. If you’re training in freezing temps then it’s probably not ideal to travel to Florida for your race. If you can simulate potential race conditions during your training then it’s likely not to be such a big factor on race day.
Races I’m considering;
London Marathon -> My home city marathon! I’ve run this race three times, once as my first ever marathon, once pacing Tom (my husband) and once running as the official 4.45 pacer. I know this course better than any other race, which means I know the good, bad and ugly about this race.
The good – it’s close to home so no stresses about traveling, sleeping, getting to the start etc. I know a lot of people running, and even more on the sidelines. There are plenty of aid stations, Lucozade on course which I can practice with, plus my track friend Tam is also going for her BQ here so I’d have someone to run with.
The bad – There are a lot of turns in the race and some quite narrow parts of the course. Weather can also be a bit hit or miss!
The ugly – the crowds, this race is BUSY! I’m not sure where the Good For Age bibs start, something I will have to check out before making a decision.
Prague Marathon -> I know a lot less about this race, but having asked online, I’ve heard it’s a fast, flat and really beautiful course. However, I’ve also had reports that it can be quite technical and there are cobbles (I hate cobbles).
Mountains 2 Beach Marathon -> currently this is top of my personal list for race course profile (gradual descent of 700ft over the first 20 miles, although there’s still some uphill thrown in so this isn’t a straight shot down!),a small but friendly course, and raving reviews from everyone that I’ve spoken to. It is consistently on the list of top BQ courses and is at the end of May which gives me even more time to get in great shape.
Only downsides are cost & jet lag because it’s in California.
But it’s also in California which is a state I love! If I do run this, my plan would be to get an Air B&B for the week before to fully get over the jet lag, sleep well, shake out run and eat healthily in the lead up to the race.
This race is the one I’m most excited about doing…if it’s the one I go for!
Geneva Marathon -> I’ve run the half twice before, and have a friend living there which definitely adds to the charm of Geneva. It’s a pretty flat course with a gradual downhill the final 6 miles into town. My concern would be the on course aid stations (they’re not as regular as some of the bigger races) and last time I struggled to find water for all the wine at the finish line!
Other races I’m looking at (but haven’t done much research on just yet)
- Rotterdam Marathon – I’ve heard it’s fast and flat, if a little boring at times.
- Manchester Marathon – this is on the list is because it’s in the UK, it’s flattish and my friend Robbie is signed up. But being honest it doesn’t excite me!
Something I need to consider is a long weekend skiing with Tom’s friends the final weekend of March…which means I can’t have a super high milage weekend because my compromise with Tom is that I won’t run while we’re skiing!
I think because I’m nervous and want to have as much time as possible, the May races feel less scary. Additionally, I have to think about the rest of my April travel schedule – with thoughts of going to Boston for race weekend as part of a book promo (and of course to cheer!)
Where are you racing in Spring? Have you run any of the races I’ve mentioned – would love your insights!?