Monday, May 6, 2013

How Do You Choose Races?

Saturday afternoon, they start trickling in; on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blog posts...race reports. Though I'm excited for all the finishers, and sometimes excited to get out there myself, I'm sometimes perplexed at how many races some people participate in. It's not easy for me to commit to a race, to plunk hard-earned dollars down for a date in the future that may or may not work for me in terms of family, training, or injury. So how do people do it?

Some people don't have children, so it's easy to see how they have the free time and disposable income to race as often as they like. Some are medal hounds or PR-seekers or are completing a multi-race challenge or something, so I get that as well. What about the rest of us? What calls out to you when choosing a race?

Midwest Races

For me, the thought of paying money to run a 5K on streets I can run for free just isn't that interesting; ditto for local trails. I also have 4 children (soccer anyone?) and a wife with training/racing plans of her own. Unless we plan an epic family trip centered around an event (like RV camping for The North Face Endurance Challenge last fall, which was a blast), the race has to be somewhat local, inexpensive, and doable in a morning or so. Not easy if it also has to be unique or interesting enough to make me cough up the dinero.

Not an easy task and for this year....nada. Laima and I are planning a fall marathon, but have not yet committed to one, and I'll be working around her training with the Chicago Area Runners Association for Zooma Chicago this fall (she's an ambassador!!!). I've looked at some local races, but nothing has really caught my eye yet. There's a trail race in Indiana, not far from the family's cottage in Michigan, but it's a bit early for me to race a 10K and I don't want to drive that far for a 5K. A trail half in August beckons, but that's some time off. Our friend is coordinating the Willis Tower stair climb, so that's certainly unique, but 100 stories of stair climbing is a bit daunting. We have the Run for Boston 5K in June, so that's probably where I'll start. Fun and frustrating to plan.

What about you?
How do you choose races?

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  1. I hear you on where the racing budget/time falls in comparison to the rest of life. I generally pick one big goal race and then fill in the others to fit it. Location, time of year and size are always key to me. And no over the top pricing for me, either!

  2. "For me, the thought of paying money to run a 5K on streets I can run for free just isn't that interesting." You've hit on something interesting here. The longer (or more complicated) the race, the more different it is than training. Suddenly you don't have traffic lights or traffic or other obstacles to deal with, so that's part of the appeal of a given race... especially if it's a triathlon.

    I think I pick races the same way... convenience in terms of overall family life.

  3. This year has been especially difficult for me so far. Family obligations just keep cropping up. Usually I look at dates and race distance first. I'm trying to stay as local as possible. Still no easy task to wedge races in.

  4. I have some races I have run before and want to do again because they are well organized. I love trying new ones and the half is my favorite distance. A medal is a plus. I'm a race ambassador for some races so they are free but I pay for others. 20 races this year - that's a lot!

  5. for me it's mostly my schedule (and i don't even have kids!). the cost can add up quickly too - i have also thought about how some people are always racing. i love to run and all, but i don't have to constantly be racing to enjoy it. traveling for races is rare (just marathons, occasional relay) due to expense and i'm just not confident in the "what if i get sick/injured/something comes up and i can't go".


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