Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Which Marathon??

I got an email over the weekend from my friend Kathy. She has signed up for her first marathon, the Portland Marathon on Oct. 9. Amid being excited for her (the first one is such an event!), I started getting itchy to get my own fall itinerary more settled.

The St. George Marathon, on Oct. 1, has been my plan for a while now. It sounds wonderful--but honestly I don't know if I can stand waiting to hear back from the lottery, which won't happen until May at the earliest. If I were to choose a race like Portland or the Chicago Marathon (also on Oct. 9), I could sign up now.

Aside from just assuaging my impatience, the two bigger races have other advantages. Number one is the travel situation. There are direct flights from Denver to both Portland and Chicago, simplifying things greatly and probably making things cheaper. Getting to Southern Utah would mean a drive to and from Salt Lake City on top of a flight (or it would mean one long drive from Boulder).

The number two advantage is that Portland and Chicago are at sea level. While the St. George course is lower than here, it's not going to feature the oxygen-rich air that I enjoyed so much in NYC five years ago. Chicago is also noted for being a fast and flat course.

Finally, I know people in both Portland and Chicago. I'd still plan to stay in a hotel, but it would so great to have even a small cheering section on the course and good friends to dine with after the race (whether the outcome is happy or sad). Kathy will also be running Portland, so I'd have a start line buddy there. And both cities are the kind of place that might entice Dan to come with me, even it means taking the kids, too (they've gotten a lot easier to travel with). If I ran in Chicago, I bet my family in Missouri would come watch and hang out with me.

Hmm, all this makes it sound like I should forgo St. George this year and pick one of the two bigger-city races (pending a happy diagnosis of my foot issue from my doc this coming Monday). It would certainly make me happy to solidify my plan through October.

What would you do if you were me? Hold out for the possibility of a beautiful downhill mountain run at St. George? Or opt for the comforts of one of the two big city options (and which one would you choose)?


  1. I vote that you come and do the Top of Utah marathon on Sept. 17 with me! It is all gentle downhill, very scenic and very fast. We could share a hotel room and it would be super fun!! :)

    I actually considered Chicago but after hearing about the CRAZY heat they had last year there is no way. That is just a chance I can't take because it is the one variable that would just kill me. I can handle rain, snow, cold, whatever... but not super heat.
    I was toying with St George too but that would be a LOOOOONG drive afterwards...

  2. Portland!! Voodoo Donuts are on me after the race!! Seriously, though, check the elevations and temp projections - looks pretty appealing (if you don't mind the good chance of running in the rain).

  3. Pick the one that is going to get you the best time. Scenery and whatnot (even a couple hundred bucks) are secondary considerations if your primary goal is time. You can run the scenic/family friendly ones after you qualify.

    This being said, Chicago is an absolute mess the first couple of miles. I ran 12 minute miles the first two because the crowd was so thick. I'm not sure about the crowd situation in Portland and St. George.

  4. These are all good options.....I'm going to make up my mind next week after getting some advice from my new doc, who hopefully is as great in person as he sounds on paper. If my foot is hurt worse than I think it is, things could change.....Thanks for posting!