Dreaming of traveling to exotic places? Consider signing up for the Great Wall Marathon outside Beijing or The Big Five Marathon in South Africa. How about a marathon at Petra? There’s one called the Polar Circle marathon in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, the Midnight Sun marathon in Tromso, Norway in June and their Polar Night Half in January!
How about the great cities of the world? Consider signing up for the London Marathon, the Paris Marathon, Berlin, or maybe where it all started, at the Athens Marathon. Of course, this doesn’t discount the grandest of them all, the NYC, or Chicago, Boston (for “real” runners only), Montreal, Toronto, the Bay, and on it goes. Just name your favourite city.
Like good music and fun in the sun? Try one of the many marathons or half marathons that form the Rock & Roll race series across the U.S.
Looking for that dream cruise in the Caribbean? There are cruises that include a different race at every port of call.
Would you like to get your kids interested in running? Your spouse? Many races have kids runs and beginners walks and runs as part of their race weekends. The Disney Race Weeks and Weekends are the ultimate examples.
One thing about road races these days, there’s something for everyone. There are very large races and small local races. There are races that only go downhill – not as easy as it seems – and races that brag about their punishing climbs. There are races held at high elevation where the air is thin or down at sea level. You can run by the sea, around lakes, through desert terrain, through canyon lands, through woods, or on broad urban boulevards. The opportunities are endless.
There are mud races, trail races, city races, and rural races. There are 5K fun walks and runs, 10K races, half marathons, full marathons, and even longer distances (I know, hard to imagine). And in almost every situation, there is the opportunity to enter to support a charity.
I thought about all these options and opportunities as I made our final travel arrangements for the Ottawa Race Weekend half marathon we’d signed up for months ago and which takes place at the end of May.
I know it’s more expensive than sticking to home territory, but I highly recommend scheduling at least one destination race a year. Getting away from your familiar turf and making a small (or longer) holiday out of it is a great experience. Consider finding a race to enter where you plan to holiday anyway. You can make a getaway with running buddies from home or with your closest support group – your family. When these two groups intersect, so much the better.
Most of us who run realize that it is very important to determine a schedule of goal races for the year. Most runners are goal-oriented by definition or we wouldn’t go out with our garmins and then record our results religiously in 2-3 places each time we leave the door. We wouldn’t obsess over the minute differences between what our actual times and our planned times.
Race organizers work hard to make it easy for you to find them. You can find race schedules on-line for every state, every province, and every country. Travel agencies cooperate by advertising packages they build around races. And charities cooperate by attaching their cause to well-known races, providing runners with the opportunity to raise money for their favourite charities. Choosing your target race or races for the year is a little like thinking about what you want for Christmas combined with writing your New Year’s Resolutions.
My own target races for this year are the Ottawa Half Marathon in May and the Chicago Marathon in October. In between, I have my eye on a few half marathons in our region, hopefully including an overnight stay in a nice hotel near the starting line and a high-end pasta dinner in a nearby restaurant the evening before the race. Heaven.
Do you have a favourite race? Have you picked out your goal race(s) for this year? The future??? Perhaps your first 5K? Or maybe your first 5K walk?? Go ahead and register. You’ll be glad you did.