I am not shy when it comes to weighing in about my favorite race in 2015…hands down it was the inaugural running of the Milwaukee Running Festival marathon. I had taken a break from running and lost my mojo. On a whim I switched my HFM Maritime 1/2 marathon entry two weeks before the event. I had been building miles, but did not know if I was ready. Much to my surprise I had a great race and the rest is history – I was back, passionate about running and wanting to race again!
I feel like a kid in a candy store when it comes to setting a competition schedule. There are so many wonderful events to participate in that it is hard to narrow it down. I often spend time researching events by combing through their web pages and reading various reviews from runners that have done the events in the past. All this information helps, but can also make it difficult to narrow down the list of races to register for.
What criteria determines if a race goes from interesting to “must do” (aka actually register and put up the cash for it)? In the Fall of 2015 I set up a schedule to race for 9 weekends straight to include 7 marathons. I reflected on those races and tried to come up with a list of qualifiers that helped me to select those events.
- Distance of travel to the event.
- Ease of transportation to/from event.
- Lodging available in close proximity to event.
- Cost of registration.
- Size of the event (number of participants).
- Website organization (shows me that RD is on point with details).
- Fun factor – what sets them apart from others and will be an experience/adventure.
Some of you may be looking at this list and going…what about the shirt and medal. I do fully acknowledge that these items are of value and great importance to many. To me they are not a deal breaker. I have run many awesome races (Dick Lytie 1/2 Marathon & Trailbreaker Marathon) where the medal and tshirt were crappy or non-existent, but the experience made up for it. Don’t get me wrong there are times that I see medals on social media and I experience serious FOMO (fear of missing out), but in the end I want memories to look back on and if a cool medal doesn’t come with that I’m ok with that.
So using my own criteria as a litmus test I reflected on my previous races and to narrow down my favorite. It would have to be my last marathon of 2016, the Milwaukee Running Festival. I was skeptical at best about this 1st year event and long story short the event was AMAZING! Top-notch from start to finish and one of the best race experiences I have ever had. Now to be perfectly honest the #MKERunFest was my slowest finishing time of the year and the course chewed me up (I’ll be back again this year to avenge that time)…none of that stuck with me, what did was the fun that I had that day. What I have come to understand in running 16 marathons to date is that “people” make a marathon amazing…those that organize it, volunteer, cheer, and run!
I’m so excited to race in 2016. I have a ton of new races that I am going to try and return to a couple of favorites. Each race is different and worth every hour of training, even the cold ones – Mother Nature is quite the character with all the snow this Spring. I cherish the time I spend at events getting to know fellow runners and look forward to new memories along the way. Running and racing truly is awesome!
#BeHappy #BeKind #BeActive