Why should you run a local & smaller marathon like The Baystate Marathon

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! 

Who’s running Baystate with me?

20 thoughts on “Why should you run a local & smaller marathon like The Baystate Marathon

  1. This is a very persuading endorsement. I could use a little less crowding and elbowing myself one year. I did Marine Corps and Disney marathons last year, both huge races. Problem is, my local marathon is still Miami and I definitely don’t see it making a “fastest marathon” list any time soon. Maybe I’ll have to try Baystate!

    • ONe year I was signed up to run Marine Corp. I ended up with pneumonia just a few days before the race so I didn’t run it. My friend did- And he told me how CRAZY crowded it was and that he came to a dead stop a few different times… I can’t imagine that!

  2. i love local races, rolling out of bed, eating and driving so close is the best! i am not running a marathon this year, but the BF may since he wants to BQ. i am doing smuttynose and seacoast halfs this fall.

  3. This is a great post. I haven’t run a full yet – I’m doing the NYC one this fall. But I’ve always run local halves before. And the whole sleeping in your bed the night before is absolutely wonderful. Also I love the part where you’ll see people you know out cheering that you didn’t know would be there, it’s a pleasant surprise for the both of you.

  4. The smallest marathon I ran was Hartford which was awesome because during a 8 mile out and back, the local people in town were handing out lemon bars – YES PLEASE! I run a lot of local road races through a run club and the best part for me (reason I come back year after year) are the homemade baked goods at the finish. And the lack of people are also a bonus : )

    • WHAAAT!!! lemon bars?!? that sounds AWESOME! The RI race in Sept (which I believe you’re doing too?) isn’t really local for me (two hours) but I can’t wait to see what their finish line treats are! My favorite post race treat that I’ve ever had is soup! I love finish line soup after a cold race!

  5. I’ve already paid for my Chicago registration, but I am really considering deferring and running Baystate again. I’ve only ever run “small” marathons…in fact – if you can believe it, Baystate is the largest marathon I’ve ran (Sugarloaf and Maine Coast are the other two). The logistics and travel of the large marathon sort of turn me off. I’m also thinking that the extra week of training that Baystate would offer me would really help me out (I’ve had a few ‘off’ weeks). We’ll see! 🙂

    • I did’t realize you could defer your Chicago registration a year…that’s pretty cool. That one is a bucket list race for me. It could benefit you to register for Baystate and use the couple of extra weeks! I always wish for more time myself for more speedwork!

  6. I agree 100%! Great post! I ran my first marathon this spring and drove south 8+ hours, stayed in a hotel (horrific experience the night before the race), and ran the race with about 30,000 other runners. I have to say, running in a new city is exciting — BUT, sleeping in your own bed the night before a race has got to trump that. I plan to do another marathon next year and that one will be a local one. I’ll have to drive only about 20 minutes to get there. I’m already excited for it!! The longest local race I did was a 25k, and the short drive and less weaving on the course was great!

  7. LOVE baystate. I’m all signed up, but if this stinkin’ foot doesn’t get better soon I might be dropping down to the half. Or just cheering you and my bf on from the sidelines 😦 If that ends up happening I might try to do the full at Hyannis this year instead. We’ll see. Trying to be patient. Glad your training is going so well! I’m super jealous.

  8. Sounds like a great race! The closest marathon I have around here is Baltimore…but thats a pretty big one with high registration fees! However, I do get to sleep in my own bed and the travel there is pretty easy. There is also the NCR marathon which is smaller but on a trail, so I’ve thought about doing that at some point.

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