Friday, August 11, 2017

Picking a Race? 5 Deal Breakers that Make Me Say: No Thanks

I've run a lot of races over the years. Some races are favorites, races that I will return to year after year. Other races are one and done. When I'm considering signing up for a race, not only do I check out the race organizer's website, I also check out recaps written by other runners. Races are expensive and I want to get the best experience for my dollar.

I always try to keep things positive here on the blog but for this post, I wanted to share 5 of the biggest deal breakers that might make me say no to a race. If nothing else, these are things that are going to make me hesitate before I sign up.



Cost
Let's not sugarcoat it, races have become ridiculously expensive. At $255, last year the New York City Marathon was the most expensive marathon in the US. It's also wildly popular, with a lottery for entrants. Would I run it? Of course. Cost isn't the only factor when choosing a race. But I've run plenty of races, mostly half marathons, that seemed overpriced. I won't call out any of them by name, but there was a women's half marathon I ran a few years ago in Chicago that was very expensive. I ran it because several of my friends were running it but I was completely underwhelmed by the swag and the logistics of the race. I was also disappointed in another pricey half I ran because I placed 2d in my age group and there was no award. There were also no portapotties along the entire course.


Location
As Realtors often say, "location, location, location". A race close to home is a race that I'd run again. But what about a race that's in an ugly place? Or with boring scenery? You Disney runners might disagree with me, but character stops aside and that dash through the castle, most of the Disney race courses are boring. Not to mention that the race starts before the sun comes up. When I ran the WDW half, we lined up in a back lot with broken rides and ran mostly in the dark on roads that lined the parks. We made it a family trip and had a good time, but once was enough for me.


Race Shirts
Can we talk about race shirts? Call me irritated, but with more than half of runners being of the female persuasion, tell me why we still have to deal with unisex shirts? Personally, I'd rather not receive a shirt at all than receive a boxy man shirt. They may as well give us a garbage bag to run in. One local half marathon promoter used to advertise their race with a "best goody bag" tag and then provided a big, butt-ugly man shirt which went promptly into the Goodwill bag. It was a deal breaker for me and I've never run that race again. If I'm paying for it, give me something I can wear.


Weather
Any time of year, the weather can be a factor for races, but common sense tells me that certain times of year are more dicey for distance races. For years, I refused to sign up for R'n'R Chicago because it's held in July. Who wants to run a half marathon in July in Chicago? Even this year, when I became a Rock'N'Blogger, I hesitated on signing up. I'm so glad I ran it--check out my recap--but regardless, the weather was a huge factor for me. In contrast, there are 2 January half marathons in Chicago and even though I run outside all winter long, I have never run these races. If we have another mild winter like we did last year, I might change my mind on that. It would have to be a last minute decision, though.


Course Support
I mentioned above that half I ran that had no portapotties along the course. Had I known that, I might have hesitated to sign up for that race. Now I check the course map and planned aid stations before I commit to signing up. I carry my own fuel, but it's important for me to know that there will be water on the course so I can mix my Tailwind. I also check out what the race is offering at the finish line. The post race spread is never a deal breaker for me, but it might be a factor in deciding between 2 races on the same weekend. Can I have a nay for bananas and bagels? Chocolate milk, watermelon, and energy bars are what this runner is looking for. And who wants to drink Michelob Ultra? Real runners drink craft beers.


Bottom line, none of these factors alone are deal breakers for me. If a group of friends was running through a desert in 150 degree heat, I'd probably join them. Ok, maybe not, but you get the point. Wouldn't it be nice if we could have the perfect race? Low cost, great swag, 60 degrees at the start, flat, no hills, pretty scenery, luxurious portapotties every 50 feet, and delicious food at the finish? A runner can dream, right?

What are race deal breakers for you? If you could have the perfect race, what would you look for? Have you run a race that meets all your criteria?

I'm linking this post up with the Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for the Friday Five!




60 comments :

  1. Yes to all of the above, but now that I've run a night race, I know that I'm not going to be doing a half marathon at night. Nope. Not going to happen!

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    1. That is one thing that makes me hesitate on RnR LV. I know I'm not a night runner. So I'm going with the attitude of it's going to be fun.

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  2. Location is usually the #1 deal breaker for me. There are SO many places I would love to run a race but being "allergic" to the sun really limits where I can go!

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    1. I didn't realize you were allergic to the sun--I had those issues when I was younger but I outgrew them. That sucks.

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  3. I've just recently started running and want to run at least a few marathons at some point. These are things I wouldn't have even thought to consider! Thank you for all the awesome info!

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    1. I've run a lot of races and at this point, I can be a little more picky!

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  4. No portapotties? What were they thinking?

    I think lack of scenery can be a deal breaker for me. I'm more about the scenery than I am about the bling!

    Other than that . . . I don't know. Don't really care about the tee, would rather a jacket or a sweatshirt or other cool swag, but it really wouldn't be a deal breaker.

    Elevation . . . I've definitely tackled a lot of challenging courses, but I'm not going to do Pike's Peak or Mt. Washington!

    Time of year -- not necessarily a deal breaker, but definitely something I take into consideration.

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    1. Bling is not a deal breaker for me, so I didn't include that.

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  5. I've run well over a 100 races and one thing I never got was a hot pink (or any pink) race shirt. I've done plenty of women's races. Still no pink. Can't even count how many hideous grey ones I have though.

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    1. Right? I hate that we pay for that. I'd rather have the option not to get a race shirt than to pay for one I can't wear.

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  6. location and logistics are a factor for me as well. I don't like having to take a shuttle bus from parking area or finishing in a different place where i can't get home as easily. As you say, we pay a lot of money to run so it should not be a hassle

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    1. I feel the same way--point to point races are not a favorite of mine. Except Big Sur. That was worth it!

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  7. All good reasons. For me, a perfect race:
    -women shirt or other item (no unisex, no cotton)
    -enough bathrooms
    -adequate water stops
    -chocolate milk and watermelon post race
    -useful ag awards (no more medals)
    -scenery
    -well marked course
    -accurate distance (not short, not long)

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    1. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes!

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  8. Location is usually the first thing I look at. I LOVE racecations, but I always need to check out airfare and hotel prices first. That will definitely dictate if I do the race.

    I also look at the course map. If a course is super hilly, I won't do it. I see no point in paying to torture myself for 13.1 miles, lol

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    1. And that is something I wholeheartedly agree on!!!!

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  9. I completely agree, especially about the price. I've been bitching about it for a long time, probably because I go way back to when a marathon cost $40, but the price of many races is over the top and the swag and experience rarely are worth it.

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    1. I don't mind paying $$$, depending on the circumstances. But most of the time, I think races are overpriced. I do know that they are having to pay more for city support--police, etc.

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  10. I am SOOOO done with the race shirts. Although some of the race jackets (which have kind of surged into "racing swag vogue" in recent years) aren't much more flattering (if at all), I do prefer them over a boxy man shirt. I'd rather have an option for a reduced registration and not have the shirt at all.

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    1. I've been enjoying getting some commemorative race shirts for "apres-race".

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  11. There's another word for Michelob Ultra. Water.

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  12. Absolutely! None of these are deal breakers for me but they all factor in. There was a local New Year's 5k I used to do that changed locations from a beautiful park to an industrial area and I'm no longer that interested in it. But on the other hand, it's free and close to me so that gets weighted against the scenery. I can't believe that expensive race didn't have portapotties along the course :(

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    1. That was a one and done race. There's a story behind it--I had to defer a destination race because of some family issues, but I was trained and wanted to run...

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  13. Weather is a big one for me! I'm not interested in running a race if it’s super cold. Anything with hot chocolate, frostbite, chill or any other cold additives probably isn't the race for me. :-)

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    1. Cold weather races are tough! I've done a few, though...the temps aren't as bad, it's the conditions: ice, snow, rain...

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  14. I had to laugh at the Michelob Ultra comment. RnR had a video of a girls' weekend using the San Diego race, and they promoted the Michelob. Ummmm, San Diego has how many craft beers available, and they're drinking THAT?!?!

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    1. Seriously. Chicago is the home of Goose Island and races are serving Michelob Ultra?

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  15. I did a half marathon where we had an hour bus-ride to the start (it was a beautiful course in the mountains in Colorado) - they had 1 porta-potty at the start for 400+ runners after an hour on the bus, and 1 at mile 9. I said I wouldn't do that race again, but the next year they were advertising "more porta-potties" so I'd consider it.

    I'm kind of tired of race shirts and really like the races where the shirt is optional for a little extra cost.

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    1. I wish more races had that option. Although I do love the half zip...

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  16. My first marathon was pretty close to perfect - we ran from Ojai to Ventura, CA (https://mountains2beachmarathon.com/.) Mostly flat, slight downhill. It was in the low 60s the entire time with some ocean fog overhead. Fuel on the course was adequate. I don't remember the post-race food - we had to jump in the car and head for home immediately. My race shirt is a tech, female cut. I'd love to do it again someday.

    Les does cycling races on Oahu. When The Bike Shop sponsors the race the awards are gift certificates to the store. Much better than a medal!

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    1. The Chicago Marathon race shirts are never anything to write home about. Yet, I've done it 3 times. Because...Chicago...

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  17. For me a big no on races is on whether or not it's chip timed, especially if it's a goal race. I know it's not a big deal, but I feel I lost out on an AG placement, because of the race not being chip timed. The awesome woman who won beat my non chipped time by a second, but she started way ahead of me. Again, I'm being pitiful, I know that!

    and Yes, enough with the boxy unisex shirts already!!

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    1. I did a non-chip timed race last year. It was a small local race. That's so old school. That was how all my races were back in the 90s!

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  18. Price and bling are bigs ones for me. $100 for a 5k? No medal at the end of a half marathon? WTF?

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  19. Weather is definitely a deal breaker for me - not sure I would run a July half marathon anywhere but the southern hemisphere!

    I really like when races do something other than a shirt as the "main" swag item. I've gotten hats, mugs, nice running socks...though I cannot for the life of me figure out where those socks went!

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  20. Completely off topic but I know exactly where the clip "It's too hot," is from. It's from American Horror Story, the one that was set in New Orleans, lol in case you didn't know.
    I think the time of year is a major for me. Down here, I do most of my running in Fall through Spring. So even though it's cooler in July way north I don't want to stay race-ready for that long so to say. I do realize I need a break and my break is in the summer months!

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    1. I did not know that about my clip! LOL!

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  21. I cannot believe there were no portapotties. That's ridiculous. I once ran a marathon that stopped runners to allow traffic to go. Seriously. *insert angry face emoji*

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    1. Um, how can a race be a race if runners have to stop for traffic?

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  22. Cost - I'm no longer running most local 5K and 10K races because they are charging so much for them. Sorry, but that crappy unisex t-shirt is not worth it. There has to be a REALLY good cause at this point for me to support them.

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    1. I like the little local 5ks and 10ks--relatively inexpensive.

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  23. Disney races were some of the first ones I ran so I never realized how over priced they were compared to other races. Of course I live the scenery at Disney but I will agree that at Disney world there is indeed a lot of highway running which I am not a fan of. Disneyland races in California have a much better course since it goes into the city of Anaheim! As far as deal breakers, if i'm traveling for a race I at least want to earn a medal at the finish.

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    1. Disney really set the bar for race prices and bling...but they are not the most expensive races anymore!

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  24. You had me laughing at the Michelob Ultra. The time of year definitely plays a factor for me - I'm just not doing a half marathon in the summer heat! Cost and location are also big considerations.

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    1. I can't believe I ran a half in July in Chicago. But there it is. Never say never, I guess...

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  25. The RACE shirts. Seriously!!! Get with the damn program! Especially if it's a pricey race...

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    1. I seriously think everyone complains about race shirts!

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  26. Love this! I think scenery, logistics and price are my top three filters. There's a half right near where I live that has no appeal because of the boring course. My stomach loves a fresh bagel and banana after a race!

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    1. There's a few halfs here that would be on my radar if I needed a half to run. But they are certainly not ones that I'd plan ahead for!

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  27. One thing I really hate that I've only seen in the Midwest? Advertisements across the entire backside of the shirt. Most of the races I run here don't use the shirt for sponsors; in fact, I can only think of one that has in the races I've run in the last seven years! So ugly and tacky. I love when races make the t-shirt optional and will cut my fee down a bit if I opt out of the shirt.

    Organization matters to me. Before choosing a marathon, I always check the reviews. I don't want to deal with major delays, extra long toilet lines, etc when I'm running a goal race.

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    1. I feel like every race I've run has shirts with ads across that back! The only race shirt I've received that was ad free was from Big Sur.

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    2. Come run one of my local races. Avenue of the Giants Marathon, the largest of our club races, does not put sponsors on the back. My trail race in June doesn't either. Or the one you might like as an adventure race called Trinidad to Clam Beach, also ad-free.

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    3. AOG is on my want-to-run list! It looks amazing.

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  28. I also find the cost and the location deal breakers, Wendy! Excellent post!

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  29. These would definitely be deal breakers for me too!

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