I’ve run a whole lot marathons. So many that I often lose count at how many I’ve finished! When I first started running full marathons, I chose to run larger races like Boston and NYC. I incorrectly assumed that all races were created equally. The large starts, elbows in the face, tripping over my fellow runners sneakers-I thought these things happened at every single race!
It wasn’t until 5 years ago that I started to do smaller marathons. In the fall of 2011, I registered for a race in my backyard. I quickly fell in love with my hometown race, The Baystate Marathon, and have done it annually since. I know a lot of runners only do those huge races, but I wanted to give you some of my favorite reasons and why I think you should consider running a smaller marathon race-like my favorite race, The Baystate Marathon!
1.) Course prep! My long runs are done along the course. Once a week you can see me running the course in preparation for race day. There is nothing like training on the course for your upcoming race. It prepares you mentally and physically. I love that I can navigate it’s roads in my sleep. (And I know where the nearest porta potties/bathrooms are!)
2.) Sleeping in my bed the night before the race. Waking up early is hard to do. Waking up early to drive a couple of hours is dam near impossible to do. The morning of Baystate I wake up early and drive 10 minutes. BOOM. Local runners: there is nothing like this: to me, being able to sleep in my own bed is priceless. Out of town runner’s: There are also several nearby hotels that are a 5-10 minute drive to the start of the race or you can take the shuttle services offered by Baystate. For more info, see here.
3.) Local support: The water stops are manned by the local track teams from the town’s you will pass through. More than once, one of my students has handed me my cup of water as I blaze past, and of course I see all of my coach friends. The kids are excited and energized to be helping out!
4.) Skipping the lottery. There is No waiting to enter the Baystate Marathon! No lottery, no staggered registration based on your previous BQ time. Ever signed up for NYC? Then you know exactly how annoying the lottery can be. Ever held your breath with your heart pounding in your chest as you submitted your app for Boston while PRAYING/crying/pleading with the big guy that you made the cut? A small local race allows you to register immediately, sparing yourself the near heart attack.
5.) Running on a much less crowded course. I consider Baystate to be on the “smaller large side” if this makes sense. It’s not too big (like Boston or, even larger:NYC), And it’s not too small (Hyannis Marathon has only about 400 participants). It’s limited field (2000 entrants for the full) make it the “Baby Bear” of race course sizes: it’s just right. It has friendly competition, is still large enough that they offer pace groups, yet small enough that getting elbowed in the face (most likely) will not happen to you.
6.) Additional race offered besides the 26.2. Another cool part of Baystate is that they also offer a half marathon at the same time: not all marathons do this, and I love when they do. I have found that you can always talk one of your friends into running the half as you’re running the full! Race buddies are the best!
(Some of my race friends who ran Baystate with me last year!)
7.) Its So Much Cheaper!!! Boston is $180! Hyannis cost me $60, and if you got an early entry into Baystate it’s $85. CHA CHING!! That’s more money you can put towards something else running-related, right? Like your next race…
8.) Local people are the staff that are directing the race. I know who directs my favorite marathon, and I know that the money goes right back into the community for races, fun runs, and other activities that encourages running. I feel good about that. Local people volunteer to help, and local police officers are manning the course and shutting down traffic. A friend of mine handed me my bib last year. I like all things that go along with racing local!
9.) Good cheering sections for friends and family. Baystate has extremely accessible areas for your family to cheer you on. It’s possible for them to get to all areas of the course to see you whiz by! Last year my friend Sandy drove along the course until she spotted me so that she could cheer me on! You can’t get stalking like that at a big race!
(One of the bridges that full marathoner’s will cross twice- other side is a great area for spectators!)
10.) And my personal favorite reason I think you should join me at Baystate this year? Fewer crowds and less people on the course means a chance for a sizable PR. You don’t have to make up those precious seconds you lost due to the weaving that happens with big races. Of course you can run a PR at a large race-it’s never happened to me though. All of my PRs have happened at this race I like to call my favorite race, The Baystate Marathon! This race was also recognized as one of the 15 fastest fall marathons to BQ, and has earned the #2 spot for the fastest marathon in the country!
Even if The Baystate Marathon isn’t local to you-you should just come run it with me anyway- it will be a great day!
As of today (8/2) registration for the marathon is at 1278 filled spots with 722 remaining! Get yourself one of those open spots! It WILL fill up, and it won’t be the day before…it fills sometime in August, so don’t delay too much on entering!