Thursday, May 29, 2014

Which Amazing Race?

I realize it's almost a year away, but I am already considering a spring 2015 marathon. There are four held in May from which to choose, and each brings with it a number of pros and cons. All four races receive ratings and comments at, so while also consulting that, I'll attempt to make a decision as a write.

Buffalo Marathon, May 24, 2015; 1,286 finishers. $70 (with a $5 discount if you register by June 1).
I have run, and pretty much enjoyed, the half marathon three times (if memory serves). It looks as if the race director mapped out a new course this year, which is a good thing, because the old course's second jaunt along Lake Erie was dreadfully boring. We are familiar with Buffalo, it's less than 3 hours from home and this race is a well-run event. However, we are familiar with Buffalo; not much new to see there.

Ottawa Marathon, May 24, 2015; 5,425 finishers. $105 (Canadian, 2014 price). Oh, so much positive to say about Canada's capital. I love this city; every time I have visited I have been charmed by the architecture, the friendly natives and just the fun of being in another country. And I hear terrific things about this race. But I also have read some negatives regarding lodging: price hikes with ridiculous minimum stays at the hotels. And while we have no reason to fear Customs, it's still such a hassle to cross back into the U.S. Ottawa is about 3-1/2 away, not too far at all. And, hey, it's Ottawa!

Pittsburgh Marathon, May 3, 2015; 4,500 finishers. $95 (2014 price). The earliest of the races on this list, this marathon comes highly regarded as well. However, my understanding is that it's hilly between miles 12 and 24. And while I have never shied away from hills, they are starting to be the enemy to my creaky knees. I have been in Pittsburgh twice (many family members live in the area), and it would provide the most metropolitan experience of the four. The early race date is a decided disadvantage (hard to get in decent long runs should Syracuse's upcoming winter be as harsh as the most recent one we suffered through). It's also more than 6 hours away, making travel a bit onerous.

Vermont City Marathon, Burlington Vt., May 24, 2015; 2,432 finishers. $90 (2014 price). I have been in Burlington once, and it's a gorgeous place to visit. The marathon map shows a good portion of the race route along Lake Champlain. Hotels there offer shuttle service, and some even provide early breakfast for the runners (other hotels in other marathon cities should take note). And it's pretty close to where Ben & Jerry's is produced, necessitating a visit, which could be the deciding factor. The comments about this race on are overwhelmingly positive. It's farther away than Ottawa (5-hour drive), but still not a ridiculous distance.

Now, I realize all of this is a bit premature, considering I have a marathon coming up in November, and anything can happen on marathon race day; anything. But I enjoy looking ahead and dreaming and thinking that maybe, just maybe, I can tackle two marathons a year. So, have I decided? I do believe I have. But it wouldn't be nice if I didn't consult the driver/photographer/supporter/cajoler. Time to ask the hubby, and see what he thinks. Those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook will see my decision once it's made.

If, in the comments, you'd like to give your opinion, feel free. I am always open to suggestions, good or bad, and willing to listen, especially since I'm asking!