5 Key Factors for Selecting a Race

Hey gang! Lately I have been searching for a good spring race to keep me motivated during these dreary winter months. I have settled on the “Luck of the Irish” 10 Miler in Phoenixville, PA! I have spent hours pouring through several race review websites (www.runningintheusa.com, www.bibrave.com, www.raceraves.com) and it got me thinking…why do I pick one race over another?

It really boils down to 5 factors. If you stick with these 5 factors when selecting a race, it will save you hours of searching (analysis paralysis anyone?) and you will avoid losing money on expensive race fees.

#1 Budget

Cost is something to strongly consider when selecting a race. Do not sign up for a big race (e.g., NYC Marathon, Chicago Marathon, etc.) if you do not have the budget to spend thousands of dollars. When I signed up for the 2015 Boston Marathon, I was willing to accept the fact that I had to spend $600/night on the hotel alone. When you factor in flights, dining, activities, and race fees, I easily spent around $3500.

Could I have done Boston cheaper? Sure. I could have stayed outside of the city, ate cheap food, and did nothing other than run. But that’s not fun for me. I like to travel and experience new things.

With that said, my budget for races this spring is pretty tight. Therefore I am running 2 cheaper races, Clyde’s 10k and the “Luck of the Irish” 10 Miler. Each race is only $45 and other costs are minimal.

#2 Location

The location of a race is another important factor when selecting a race for several reasons. How long will it take you to get there? How will you get there? Is the terrain different from where you normally run (i.e., mountain versus coastline)? Is it several time zones away? These are all things to think about.

A good example of this would be signing up for the Big Sur Marathon (massive hills, west coast time zone) when you typically train on the Chesapeake Bay (flat, east coast time zone). I am not saying it can’t be done, because it definitely can! But did you incorporate hill training into your training? How do you adjust to different time zones?

If you find yourself in a similar scenario, I recommend getting to the race location a few days ahead of race day to get yourself used to the time zone change.

#3 Climate/Weather

Surely, the Key West Marathon in January sounds like a delightful break from the running we do in the bitter cold in the Northeast right? Not so fast. It takes about 2-3 weeks to get acclimated to warmer weather. Again, it’s doable but something to consider. If you happen to be in this scenario, I would recommend arriving to the warmer race location a few days ahead of race day to get somewhat acclimated.

Oh man now I am dreaming about a cheeseburger in paradise 😉

#4 Convenience

Although nice, a race necessarily doesn’t have to be the main event. Is there a race that coincides with an already planned trip? Is there a friend or relative you can stay with that lives near a race? Is the race on a holiday weekend so you don’t have to worry about taking time off work?

This is one of the reasons why I chose the “Luck of the Irish” 10 Miler. My boyfriend’s parents live near the race start and we will be visiting them that weekend anyway. So it keeps costs down because I don’t have to stay in a hotel or worry about any other additional travel costs.

#5 Does it make you feel excited?!

This is the #1 factor when choosing a race. You may have everything else lined up; budget, convenience, etc., but if you don’t feel excited about it, DO NOT SIGN UP. There have been plenty of races where I thought “oh man it’s not very expensive and it has good reviews”, but I just didn’t feel excited about it.  If you don’t feel excited about signing up, then I can guarantee you won’t feel excited come race day.

What’s helpful for me is googling “[Insert Race Name] race reviews” and other blogs will appear in the results. It’s a great first-hand account of what the race is really about.

To help me keep track of races that peak my interest (so many!), I made a Pinterest board called “Places to Race“.


So tell me, what are other factors that help you select which race to run? Click “Leave a Comment” under the blog post title.




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