With so many events out there, it’s getting increasingly difficult to pick races. I’m not obsessive, but would be doing an event every weekend if I didn’t have soccer games to attend and was independently wealthy. With three boys, I have some soccer to watch. Games usually trump events for me, so the older I get, the choosier I am with my races. I would love to say yes all the time, since races are when I get to socialize, see my running friends and meet new people, but it’s just not practical. I’m really the worst decision maker on the planet with most things and probably over-analyze, but for me to run an event it has to fit into one of my categories.
~A Cause– if a run has a charity close to my heart, it’s easy to say YES! I also look for races that donate ALL of their net proceeds to a particular charity. I once participated in an event with a bunch of girlfriends that noted we were making a difference, since they donated a portion of the registration cost to gynecological research. After looking at the fine print, they were donating 2% to the cause. Two. Percent. Needless to say, I’ve never done that event again and it taught me to pay careful attention to races if I want to run for a particular cause. Two of my favorite races under this category are the Ladybug Run and the Hero Up Half Marathon. Both of these events donate all of their proceeds to their noted charities and you can run them and feel good about truly making a difference.
~Something Unique– I love inaugural events and even though the new Bend Marathon wasn’t ideal with my calendar this year, I couldn’t say no. I’ll get to be part of the first Bend Marathon and I think that’s pretty exciting. I also love the uniqueness of the day long relays like the Gorgeous Relay Series, the Three Capes Relay and the Twelve Bridges Relay. I’m a geek with costume stuff, too, so a fun themed run will get me every time. Sometimes it’s not the event itself, but the giveaways that set a run apart. I ran Hippie Chick for the necklace, in place of a medal and the Girlfriends Half Marathon for the vest, instead of another racing shirt. If a race has something fun and different, it goes to the top of my list of races to run.
~Friends-They can definitely talk me into events. If I know a bunch of people doing a run, or my best running girl has it on her calendar, you don’t have to twist my arm. I discovered the fun Portland Running Company Winter Series after telling my bootcamp crew I’d run it if anyone registered. Sure enough a couple of them did and we had a blast with a distance I usually shy away from. A couple of girlfriends talked me into heading east for a marathon in April and it’s been so fun getting prepared together. The hours on the long runs have brought us closer, discussing our shoes, our injuries, our fuel and all sort of stuff we leave on the pavement. Memories money can’t buy you, but I’m glad I have friends to talk me into events I might have skipped otherwise.
~Destination– I know I’m not alone in looking for marathons and other endurance events in cool locations. When I found out I’d be in Kona for the marathon, there was no way I was going to pass that up. It was my hardest marathon, with the heat and humidity, but you had to pinch me I was so excited to be running the same course as Ironman legends. Avenue of the Giants was another destination favorite for me. The course was breathtaking and I loved getting to go hiking with my family when I was done. My parents came down to celebrate my birthday and watch my boys while I ran and the memories we made are priceless.
Some people run for the bling, the shirt, or just the bragging rights and I’ve definitely had races where one or all of those would be the case, but it usually takes more to get me interested in an event. Fortunately, we are very lucky to have some amazing race directors in the Pacific Northwest. They are trustworthy, put on great races, are reliable and keep the standards high. This makes it an added challenge to pick events, which I guess is a good problem to have. I can’t run every weekend, even if I wanted to, because I have other obligations. So, until my life slows down a little bit, my events have to have something special. That list is still plenty long and it probably woudn’t hurt to whittle it down a little more. I probably need to come up with a system to better refine my races, but until then, I’ll run pretty much anything that falls into my four race categories.