Guest Blog by Rebecca Trachsel
When it comes to marathons, there is no question that the big ones are pretty freakin' amazing. I've had the good fortune of running Boston four times. Each time I've done it, I have been moved to tears at least once, usually during the race itself (always a bit awkward). I'm convinced that the crowd alone can help get almost any runner to the finish line. The cheering is beyond awesome all the noise helps to drown out the doubt and pain. As a runner, and even as a spectator, there is something almost magical to be part of such an incredible event. I haven't done any other big ones, but from what I've heard they are just as epic.
That said, for all the good things about the biggies, there are some drawbacks, too. Let's take Boston, for example. It's almost impossible to get into the city on marathon weekend and when you do manage to make it in, it takes 45 minutes, minimum, to park your car. Once you get inside the Convention Center, you have to travel through an elaborate labyrinth to pick up your bib. The expo is huge, somewhat stressful and always sweat-inducing. Then, on race day, you can either try to get a ride out to Hopkinton, which is risky due to potential traffic and parking issues, or you can hop on a bus 4 hours before the race begins and then sit around and wait. And wait. And wait some more. Once you've crossed the line and you're over the initial shock of being done, you're dealing with some serious post-race chaos. Finding your bag and then your family in a crowd of hundreds of thousands is not easy. Tack on the fact that you can barely walk and it's downright awful. I'm not saying it isn't worth it, because it is. It’s just a major deal fest.
Enter the small marathon. After the Boston experience, the small marathon process from registration through the race day is down right easy. For the Cox Sports Marathon in Providence, I was able to drive the entire course the night before the race. I was also able to see my family 4 times along the way as the course was a clover through residential neighborhoods. For the Snickers Marathon in Albany, GA, not only did I sign up a week before, but I rolled out my hotel room the morning of, drank a cup of coffee and then took about 10 steps to the starting line. And for the Mohawk Hudson marathon this past Sunday, I rolled into the expo with an hour to spare, grabbed my bib (no line) and then easily found my Oiselle teammates. Didn't even break a sweat. Sure the crowd is sparse, the expo is smaller and the course may not be as well known, but there is something to say about having a stress free start and finish to the race you have been training for for 4 long months. Yes, the big ones are fun, but the small marathons will always have a special place in my heart.
TOP 4 REASONS SMALLER MARATHONS ARE AWESOME
1. You can often wait until the week and sometimes the day before to sign up. No joke. Twice, I have made a last minute decision to race and had no problem getting in. Added bonus, the entry fees don't burn a hole in your pocket.
2. There is a NEVER a line for the port-o-pottys on race morning. You can go as many times as you need and no one is going to give you the hairy eyeball when you get back in line. Heck, there won't be a line. This may sound odd, but if you've waited in Hopkinton or any other "athlete's village" you can appreciate this perk.
3. Getting to the starting line is a piece of cake and the wait time is zilch. You can't worry about whether you have to pee again, re-tie your shoes, drink more water, or get rid of a layer because you won't have time. It's literally, READY, SET, GO and you're off. Down in Albany, GA, the start was so quiet that my running partner and I didn't realize the race had even begun until people started gently pushing us. Once you're across the line, you aren't fighting for a spot on the road. There is plenty of space to settle in. That's nice, too.
4. It is so much easier to find your family both during and at the end of the race. I have young kids. Sitting around for 4 hours in huge crowd for a chance to see mom run by for 30 seconds, which might not even happen at all, is beyond brutal. At the smaller races, they can often find me more than once on the course and then they can easily meet me at the finish line. It's a win-win, really. Mom doesn't have to search for hours for the family and the kids get to eat mom's post-race treats and then head home shortly afterwards.
So as you can see, you might just want to try a smaller marathon for your next: I know you won't regret it! - Rebecca