Since I can't run this week because I am recovering from the Cleveland Marathon, and I am feeling a bit of post-marathon depression, I am keeping myself occupied by figuring out what my next race will be. Obviously my big goal is to still try to get to Boston in 2017, I am looking at races prior to the cut off date, which is really difficult at this point since Boston has yet to announce their cut off! Once I know that, I will be able to pick, and if it's late enough, a few more options may open up. But until then, I am looking at the ones which I am sure are ahead of the cut off.
As a result of my searching, there are two marathons that I am seriously considering. The first is (obviously when you realize that I live in OH) Presque Isle Marathon in Erie, Pennsylvania. The second is (significantly less obvious) Revel Big Cottonwood just outside of Salt Lake City Utah. Both are very different races, but both come with a reputation for producing a large amount of Boston Qualifiers and are always before the cut off.
Presque Isle, Erie PA
After watching several friends try to qualify for Boston last year, all I heard about was the Erie Marathon and I watched several friends qualify for Boston at the Erie Marathon.
When: Sunday, September 11, 2016; 7 am - 1 pm
Where: Presque Isle State Park, Erie PA
Numbers: 2200 Cap; No Half
Course: Flat (less than 250ft elevation change), paved surface, shade, moderate climate and plenty of aid stations on a double loop course
Qualifiers: More than 30% qualify
Why I'm Interested In Erie:
1. It's flat! Need I say more? A course as flat as this nearly guarantees a PR.
2. It's scenic. It runs through the state park and has beautiful lake views.
3. It's a loop. This is good because it guarantees that my mom can be at the half with my second supply of gels and Nuun.
4. Lots of people will be trying to qualify. People run this race to qualify for Boston and it will be helpful to have people trying to run my pace and everyone in the same boat brings a good energy.
5. It starts early. It is easier to beat any possible heat when it starts that early.
Why I'm hesitant to run Erie:
1. The park shuts down for the race. I need to see people when I run, and I need to see people I know. Since the only way in and out of the course is the road we run on, it is unlikely there will be spectators on the course.
2. The views are likely the same throughout. No, I don't know this for sure, but I'm guessing that the views throughout the park are not much different throughout the course.
3. It's VERY small. I don't like small races. I don't like running alone out on the course and 2200 is tiny. This means I will likely be alone or with very few people.
4. It's a loop. Yes, this is on both pros and cons. I am not crazy about running the same course twice. When I get into the second part, when the race really starts, I need distractions and I don't think running the same part a second time will be the distraction I need.
Revel Big Cottonwood, Salt Lake City UT
I didn't realize this race was before the cutoff until I started searching, but I have heard nothing but good things about this race organization, this race, and this location.
When: Saturday, September 10, 2016; 7 am - 1 pm
Where: Big Cottonwood Canyon, Salt Lake City, Utah
Numbers: 1300 in Full Last Year; 2500 in the Half
Course: Incredibly fast and remarkably beautiful from the forests and canyons of the Wasatch Mountains to the foothills of Salt Lake City, Utah. Featuring a speedy downhill slope (-5255 ft) and spectacular scenery.
Qualifiers: Fastest marathon in the state. Avg time of 4:08.
Why I'm Interested In Big Cottonwood:
1. The downhill. After the 20 mile drop went so well for me, and I had no problems with my knees, I feel like a course like this has the potential to be a great course for me.
2. The views. I don't think I could ask for a much more beautiful course than to wind my way through this canyon with gorgeous scenic views.
3. The average finish time. A lot of people would be happy to run a 4:08 marathon. So considering that that is the average time, that says a lot about the potential for this to be a very fast course.
4. Point to point course. I love point to points because there is no duplication. Additionally, this course does not involve a single out and back anywhere on the course.
5. Swag. Okay, so maybe this isn't the most important thing. BUT, if I am going to pay $110+ to run a marathon and travel across the country to get it, it's nice to have a nice expo, to get free race pics, have the race negotiate discount hotel rates, and to provide you with gloves and mylar blankets before the race even starts.
6. Past Participants. The people who have run this race seem to really love it. They rave about it and tend to return for future races.
Why I'm hesitant to run Big Cottonwood:
1. Training. I live in Ohio. We do not have 5255 ft drops to train on. While I ran the 20 mile drop without issue, that was only about a 750ft drop. I'm not sure how the additional downhill could affect me.
2. It's VERY small. Same issue as Erie. While there are a decent amount of runners while the half marathoners are out there, once they are gone, it is going to clear out.
3. It's closed off from traffic until mile 19. Same issue as Erie. My crew won't be able to meet me anywhere on the course until mile 19. That could be intense for me and it means I won't be able to get my typical handoff at the half.
4. Past runners have complained about 19-26.2. Apparently there is a stretch of flat, out in the hot sun with traffic whooshing by once you hit 19 and apparently this is difficult to handle after all of the down hill.
5. Cost. Clearly this race is going to involve a plane flight and multiple hotel stays in addition to the fact that the race is more expensive. While that alone wouldn't deter me, it seems silly to not factor that in.
So those are what I'm considering right now. Obviously everything could go out the window depending on the cutoff date announced by Boston, and additional races could come into the mix if it is late enough. Depending on the date, I have a few others that I have in the back of my mind:
1. Airforce Marathon - Dayton, Ohio
2. Huntsville Marathon - Huntsville, Utah
3. Capital City - Lansing, Michigan
Have you run any of these? What did you think? Or are you looking at another option for qualifying in the fall for Boston 2017? Let me know what you are looking at!