If I could – I would easily run as many races as my schedule and body would allow. Even with some discussion on twitter, a few of us were talking about a Cross-Canada Running Road Trip (travel and run races all around Canada). But – that is more in a running-fantasy world than in reality, so I have to pick and choose my races. I have some races that are almost always on my race schedule (Ottawa Race Weekend and Army Run), while I rotate between others depending on my schedule. This year has been a bit different as I am running many new-to-me races rather than running my usuals. This is the first year since I started running that I will not be racing in any Somersault Races (Emilie’s Run, Mother’s Day Run, National Capital) which is happening for a variety of reasons. So far I have already run a new MEC race, the Around the Bay 5K, the Bread and Honey 5K and will run two new races this fall: Yorkville Run and the NYC Marathon.
What do I look for when I choose my race? Well – a whole combination of factors decides what I will race
Although it is pretty obvious that I am spending quite a bit of money on NYC – normally I pick races that are more affordable, especially races that are more “training races” than my bigger goal races. Ottawa Race Weekend, Army Run and NYC are definitely not cheap, but they are what I work up to. MEC races are great because I can get a 5K or 10K race in for $15. For some of the smaller races, if the cost is above $50 – I am less likely to sign up.
Although I do like running the downtown Ottawa route, I do get a bit bored with it and tend to only do the main races downtown and choose new locations for my other races. I prefer east-end Ottawa races, but those seem to be lacking this year. I don’t normally travel to go to races, but rather see what races are happening when I already have plans to go somewhere.
This is somewhat related to location – but parking does play a factor into which race I choose to go to. Although it may seem that downtown races are a pain in the butt to park, I know of several locations that are easily accessible by car. Plus – if I am going on my own, I just take the bus. For races that change $5-10 for parking, I am less likely to sign up. Also there are some races that are “street parking only” and that isn’t my cup of tea either. Mostly because I hate parallel parking 😉 Free parking (and plenty of spaces) are my favorite kind of races. If parking is close, it also eliminates the need for a bag check!
4. Ability to change registration/defer to another race or year/switch bibs
This one is a pretty big one for me. For pretty much all the races I sign up for – there is some sort of ability to change your registration up until a certain point. Ottawa Race Weekend had a bib market, Army Run allows people to sell/switch bibs quite easily, Somersault allows a free transfer if you register before March or you just have a $15 admin fee. Even NYC allows you to defer if need be (although you have to pay again). Some races do not allow you to switch bibs at all – Disney is one of them. They apparently have caught on to people selling their bibs and now requiring you to pick up your bib in person. This turns me off Disney Races since I would have to fly down and s*** happens.
5. Are my friends doing it?
It is so much more fun to race with people I know – even if they are way more speeder than I am. This year’s Ottawa Race Weekend was the only time in five years that I did not run a ORW with someone. I was by myself. Normally I run with students/fellow staff members. But – at least I saw many spectators that I knew. Usually I know at least one person that is in the race with me – the Bread and Honey 5K was the first race in awhile that I knew absolutely no one running in the race. It was lonely. Even NYC I know of a few people in the race (well – known them social media styles).
Those are five things I tend to look at when choosing a race. There are a few other items that some may consider including swag, medals, race food, choice of beverage at the end (aka beer and wine) and that sort of thing. But for me, the type of t-shirt you get and medals are really items that I don’t consider. It is just an added bonus.
What about you? What do you look for?