You should never underestimate the importance of choosing a marathon event in which to participate, especially if it’s your first. In fact, last week I wrote about various factors to consider, including: Seasonality, Terrain, Crowds, Scenery, Cheers, Familiar Faces and Home Cooking.
And rather relying solely on my recommendations, I thought you might be interested to see what races others have enjoyed. Thanks to all the contributors for sharing their faves!
Ana-MariaVranceanu @ Running and Living: Boston
My favorite marathon is Boston! It is an amazing experience. You feel like a celebrity, everyone is cheering and calling your name, people get dressed up, it is a huge party. I recommend running Boston for fun, rather than a PR, because the course is tough and bc you want to focus on the experience. Also, leave the i-pod at home!
Kristina Pinto @ Marathon Mama: Boston 2008
My favorite marathon would have to be Boston 2008. I was coming off a disappointing DNF there in 2007 and just wanted to finish it. I let myself enjoy the whole thing with no pressure other than wanting to finish. It was a big PR over my first marathon in 2002, and while it wasn’t super fast and I’ve since run faster races, no feeling compares to taking care of unfinished business!
Dena Harris @ Why Aren’t I in Charge: Chicago 2009
Hands down winner for my favorite marathon is Chicago 2009. My PR at the time was a 4:15 and my “stated” goal to family and friends was to break 4 hours. However, I’d trained with the Furman plan and secretly thought I might have it in me to run a Boston qualifying 3:45. Halfway through, feeling good. Mile 15, good. Mile 18 where I normally bonk, no worries. Mile 20, oh, am I running a race? I didn’t even notice. The whole time I’m telling myself, “Don’t get cocky. Anything can still happen.” Finally with a 5k left I realized, “I’ve got this. I have so friggin’ GOT THIS.” Finished with a 3:44:02.
Even though I’ve since bested that PR, I can’t imagine I’ll ever run another race where I felt as good as I did at Chicago. The breath, the pace, the miles… everything came easy. Plus, my family was there to cheer me on at miles 13, 17, 20, and the finish. Sigh. If only they could all be that way.
Jill Bruyere @ Run with Jill: New York City
Running the New York marathon was like running through a rock concert. The noise, cheers, music, screams, and the crowds never stopped the entire course. It was like receiving a standing ovation for 26.2 miles.
I really had no idea a marathon race could be so fun and full of excitement. In fact, this really helped take my mind off my legs especially when I started getting tired at mile 20. The crowd is unreal. And, with over 40,000 runners you are never left to run alone.
The course is awesome. The most memorable start of any race.:A two level start on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. It was cool and a great way to begin a race. You run through New York’s five boroughs: Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan. The course united dozens of culturally and ethnically diverse neighborhoods, crossed five bridges, and finished at Tavern on the Green in world-famous Central Park.
The marathon is extremely well organized (as would be expected of NY) No hassle with transportation to the start line, tons of food and beverage at the athlete tent prior to the start,Plenty of support staff and aid stations along the way. Oh, and the marathon expo is amazing too!
The New York Marathon is the only race I can say I would do again. that is because I had such an exhilarating and positive experience which is unusual to say about a marathon. The people, the crowd, the city, the athletes…..its just PURE excitement.
Karen Smith Gulaskey, Miami FL: Chicago
Chicago is such a friendly and amazing city!! The people cheering, the different neighborhoods were so great! I ran the year it was so hot that the officials cancelled the race; people were out with garden hoses, cups of ice and cell phones to contact spectator friends. I loved that it started and finished at the same place. Plus, the course is flat!
Jodi Whittaker, Boise ID (aka my running partner): New York City
By far, the greatest support and the most diverse group of runners and spectators is New York City. 5 Burroughs, 5 Bridges and 2 million spectators. Organization is first class. Think about getting 40K runners from Manhattan Island on a ferry to Staten Island and starting 30 seconds ahead of schedule!! The other thing the totally amazed me was there were “Sticker People.” What is a “Sticker Person?” Well, once you get your warming cape at the end of the race, there are beautiful men assigned to put a sticker on it. When I asked what they were doing, they replied, “This sticker will help keep you keep in the heat and make you warm.” WOW!!
My favorite: Boston
Though New York is a close second, I still think Boston is one of the greatest sporting traditions in this country. There are few things that top the cheering and screaming through Wellesley and Newton, seeing the Citgo sign as the Boston skyline approaches, and lastly, running through the beautiful Back Bay at the finish. No matter how cold, sunny, cloudy or windy the weather, throngs of Bostonians cheer on the runners with all their hearts. It is amazing!
Though the heartbreak hills challenge runners at a particularly inconvenient time (miles 16-20), the crowd support turns up a notch during this stretch, and doesn’t ease up till the finish.
Particularly enjoyable for me is walking down memory lane towards the end of the race. The race is a microcosm of the special times I enjoyed while living in Boston.
What’s your favorite race?