Every fall, I run a marathon. 4 years ago, I decided to run a local race (instead of traveling all over the place) and signed up for the Baystate Marathon. I didn’t know how I would feel about running a race so local because I had never done that before.
I quickly fell in love with it for so many different reasons, and now, it’s no secret that I love the Baystate Marathon. In fact, I love it so much that I’m willing to say that it is actually MY FAVORITE marathon. (I’ve kind of run a lot of them..soo…that’s high praise, ya’ll) I have nicknamed it “The Best Damn Race.” I would actually rather run Baystate than Boston. (Even though my goal is to qualify for Boston AT Baystate.) I promote this race to all my friends and family and some of them are doing it with me this year-and you should too!
These are my top reasons I love the Baystate Marathon (aka-The Best Damn Race) :
1. It starts and finishes in the same area-this means no waiting around for a bus, no walking miles to your car..no figuring out how to navigate yourself from the finish to your vehicle. It is literally the easiest thing. There tends to be some traffic exiting the parking lot, but it is well worth it because you will do really well there, I guarantee it.
2. It is (for me), local. In fact, it’s SO local that I pick up my race packet in the very school I work at, it doesn’t get better than that, for sure.
3. The course. I love scenery-the colorful fall leaves that adorn the entire course, the picturesque views of the regatta, it’s flat trajectory. There is one hill along the course, this bridge:
The flat course lines the Merrimack river giving runners spectacular tree lined views of one of the prettiest times around here: fall in New England!
Course map and elevation:
4. It’s organization. The race kicks off right in front of Lowell High School. It always starts on time (8am) and there are tons of porta potties in case you need to ease your pre-run jitters. Parking is easy-there are two VERY CLOSE garages (Tsongas Arena and John St Garages) that runners can easily get to.($5 charge)
Another added bonus:The school is always open and on a slightly chilly October morning, that is a lovely thing.
As for the expo: it is in The school cafeteria. There are multiple options for number pickup-Friday-Saturday, and even conveniently, for you late peeps-on Sunday morning from 6-7:30am (not recommended)My favorite running store, Marx Running and Fitness is also there with great deals on their products, even the previous years models of shoes/clothes so those of us on a budget can score some new stuff too!
5. It’s known as a PR course. About a third of its entrants BQ. And even if you don’t BQ, you will still do great: Baystate was my first race where I broke 4 hours, and every year since, I’ve set a new PR. I will never forget the feeling I had the first time I broke 5 hours: it was at Baystate in 2011 with a time of 4:17. I’ll also never forget how I felt the first time, the very next year, when I broke 4 hours and took 23 minutes off my previous time with a new, shiny PR of 3:54. And the very next year, I broke THAT PR with a time of 3:47. Knowing the course helps tremendously, but so does the fact that i have major confidence whenever I head into this race due to the fact that I am crazy excited to get a new PR. You cannot underestimate confidence! Run Baystate and you will see exactly what mean.
I feel very blessed to live in the area! I am going to be doing at least one run per a week along the course to get myself extra ready for race day!
6. There is both a half and a full option. I LOVE this. This gives my “I’m not ready to run a marathon yet” friends a great chance to do a local race with me. And even more unique is the fact that besides the first mile, the two races are separate. Marathoners will pass their fellow halfers as they cross the Rourke bridge to move onto their 2nd loop.
7. For you out of towners: there is a lot to like about Lowell. It has really come a long way.. It is the home of the industrial revolution, but it’s become so much more than that. It’s chock full of great museums, unique restaurants, and cool things to do. Just a few of my favorite restaurants: Life Alive, Cobblestones, and Blue Taleh. Things to do: a show at the Lowell Memorial Audotorium, a ride in an old fashioned streetcar trolley, a walk at the Boulevard and finishing up with an ice cream cone at the Heritage.
8. They have PACE GROUPS!!..pace groups? They are a gift from God. For real. Not all races have them, and when they do, it is AMAZING!
9. Because THIS GIRL decided to make Baystate her first HALF MARATHON!!!!!!!!!
(Disclaimer:She told me I could put this in here so that it holds her accountable for her training.) I am SO PROUD of her!!! Her and her long legs will dominate! Please wish her luck!! My SIL is one of my biggest supporters of my running in the entire world and I can’t wait to be at the starting line with her come October, and celebrate her finish line victory with all of our family!!!
I have partnered up with the Baystate Marathon to blog about my training over the next 5 months. My training officially kicks off today-18 weeks from yesterday, I will be lining up at that start line, ready to run! You can expect monthly updates from me, just about the middle of the month.
Now, to sign up for the 2014 Baystate Marathon, you can do so here. I’d do it sooner rather than later, my friends: it fills up quite fast and you want to ensure yourself a spot at The Best Dam Race!!!