Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Marathon Madness

Apparently, enough time has passed where I now think of my Detroit Marathon experience as overwhelmingly positive and have mostly forgotten the pain and woe. With a good running week (finally) under my belt, I started to think about running a marathon again. That's all it takes, I guess. Over the past few months I've gone from "No way" to "Well... perhaps" to "I gotta sign up now!".

I have considered a few fall marathons (no spring marathon as I'm not even close to ready for a half marathon, much less a full one, but that's a different post) and I keep coming back to two races that I want to do. The Chicago Marathon was my first choice, but now I'm leaning towards the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. Each race has pros and cons for me, which I will note below:

Chicago Marathon

The Chicago Marathon!

I grew up in the "Chicagoland" area, about 40 minutes from Downtown Chicago. It is my "home city" and I followed Chicago sports teams, watched Chicago TV, etc. We visited the museums and went to Sox games (we were Cub fans but Comiskey Park was much closer and easier to get to) on occasion, but most of our interactions with the city itself involved driving through and getting stuck in traffic on the Dan Ryan and / or Eisenhower with my Dad on many weekends. On the highway, we would hide as not to be kissed by the Magikist lips signs (I don't know why).

So, I'm not a "true" resident, but it was our city.

As the Chicago Marathon is in my "home city" and it is one of the biggest races in the country, I have wanted to run it for some time. The "Spirit of the Marathon" movie did not diminish this desire. That said, I have cooled on this race somewhat, and it has much to do with the lottery.

After a registration fiasco last year, the organizers of this race decided to have a lottery entry system for those not granted "exemptions" for entry. I'm not so down on the lottery as how it is being implemented. One can sign up between March 5 and April 7, and, if you "win" or "lose", you will be informed on April 14.

Do people really need over a month to enter? Isn't April 14 a bit late to know if you're in or out? It isn't too late in terms of training, but it is when trying to decide about entry to other races. I haven't registered for another race, but some of the races I have considered will cost more or be sold out by then. Have the lottery, let people know if they are in or out and let them move along.

Besides the lottery thing, the race cost is $185. Wow. To be fair, it is a bit less than New York or Boston, but come on. That's over 8 million bucks from race entry fees and I'm sure there is a huge chunk of $ from sponsorships. It costs money to organize a race (and even more with heightened security) but still... I know parking is going to be expensive and a pain and I'll need to park at least twice (pick up and race) in the city. I'd love to spend the night at a hotel downtown, but rooms are crazy 'spensive too.

Hometown race
Considered a top 5 (maybe top 2 or 3) marathon in the country with good race history
Run with elites - some of the worlds best
Crowds are great
Great scenery
Can stay with family about 20 miles from race start
Highest possibility that family outside of household would attend

The whole lottery thing
Cost (race, parking, etc.)
Not able to afford hotel room close to race start / finish

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon!

Detroit is my "current city", Chicago is my "home city", but Indianapolis is my "third city". I grew up near Chicago, but in Indiana. I went to Indiana State in Terre Haute, a little over an hour from Indy, so we visited on occasion.

This race really wasn't on my radar until Jeff aka Detroit Runner talked about this race and posted about it on his blog. They really enjoyed the race and had a good experience overall. It is much cheaper than Chicago ($80 vs. $185) to boot. We would likely stay in a hotel for this one, but the difference in race cost makes that less of an issue than it otherwise would be (though I just noticed parking prices at the downtown hotels are ridiculous).

No lottery - you sign up, you're in.
Reasonable race fee
Good scenery / course
Hotels close to race start / finish which are not outrageously expensive
Some family may attend
I like November 1 race date

Not Chicago
Race lacks deep history - less participation (4,000 marathon / 15,000 total vs 45,000 for Chicago)
Lesser elite participation
$27 parking (daily) at downtown hotels is not cool.
Must get hotel
Kids probably miss Halloween trick or treating


Choices include: 
A) Sign up for Chicago, see what happens, skip marathon in 2014 if not selected.
B) Sign up for Chicago, if not selected, sign up for Indy.
C) Sign up for Indy, forget Chicago this year
D) Don't sign up for any marathon - after all, that was the original plan
E) Run Detroit again or another nearby marathon
F) Quit running, eat more donuts

B or C are the leaders in the clubhouse right now. I should be able to wait to see what happens for Chicago and then sign up for Indy. The hotel rooms I would want should still be available, but the overall uncertainty is not ideal. Is there a 90% chance of getting in to Chicago? 50%? 10%? No one really knows right now. If I register and don't get selected to race, I'll be TO'd (Kip Dynamite would be proud).

Do you have difficulties in race selection? 

Are race lotteries the most fair way to deal with demand? Is the Chicago one goofy or par for the course?

Would you like to sponsor me and pay for all of my races, travel and meal expenses? (worth a shot)

Have a good one!

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