When I started running marathons, I really enjoyed the opportunity to visit new community and exploring then in such a unique way. Although I love my hometown race (Twin Cities Marathon), I did not want to continuously repeat this race year after year. I found the 50 States Marathon club and it piqued my interest. I never thought that I could finish this challenge, but it would allow me to look at a lot of new running options. My first goal was to get to the minimum membership criteria of 10 marathons/10 states. I should reach this plateau next year. The challenge has brought me to some great events…such as Disney, Detroit, and The Flying Pig.
Next year, I am scheduled for Houston, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Des Moines (along with two more in Minnesota). I started looking at more neighboring states. Chicago is an obvious choice. Fargo has a good reputation. Indianapolis Memorial is another good choice. But there are a lot of marathons that I was immediately excluding since I had already “completed” that state. St Louis would be a good event, but was unnecessary since KC was entirely in Misourri. Cleveland was out since Flying Pig is also in Ohio (Cincinati) as was Philadelphia (already have Pittsburgh).
A couple of weeks ago, I completed the Route 66 marathon. It’s a race that has a great reputation and has amazing medals. But it is a medium sized marathon in a medium sized city (Tulsa). Ultimately, this was not my favorite experience. The size of the event, the city, and the expo were the source of my disappointment. I have found that I just enjoy large scale events. I like the excitement and pageantry that comes from being a part of something huge.
I went back and analyzed my recent races and upcoming events from the perspective of size. The quickest way to look at this was by looking at the total number of finishers. I started with my hometown race…the Twin Cities Marathon. The total number of finishers was 8855. This had been my benchmark for a “mid sized” marathon (since I consider the Twin Cities to be a standard sized Midwestern city, I assumed that many marathons were this sized). Disney was my benchmark for a “large” marathon (20693 finishers), and Grandmas was my idea of a “small” marathon (5618 finishers).
In researching this further, I found that Disney was the 5th largest marathon in the United States, Twin Cities was 9th, Grandmas was 13th. I clearly had a very skewed idea of what an average sized marathon would be like.
Route 66 Marathon had 1682 finishers. This turned out to be a mid-sized marathon…and it was too small for my taste. I definately do not want to go any smaller. I actually did my first ever marathon at a small local event. I had no desire to go that small again )Minneapolis Marathon with 890 finishers).
So, time for me to look at my upcoming events:
Houston-6945 finishers (large, but smaller then the Twin Cities)
Pittsburgh–4507 finishers (still a good size)
Kansas City-1340 finishers (Wow! Way smaller then I expected)
Des Moines-1586 (stunned that it is bigger then KC!)
Other nearby races (ones I would have to do if I were going for the 50/50 benchmark):
Indianapolis Memorial-3736 (I would be happy with this)
Fargo-1655 (small, but an easy drive, and a “must-do” marathon if you live around here).
Sioux Falls SD-409 (uhhh…no)
Omaha NE-360 (hell no!)
Runs I would be missing:
St Louis (2 marathons…Go! Or Rock n Roll)-1392 and 1207
Toronto (2 marathons…Goodlife or Toronto Waterfront)-1505 and 4038
Los Angeles Marathon-21507 finishers.
San Francisco Marathon-6626 finishers.
Big Sur Marathon-3590 finishers.
Chasing 50/50, I would likely limit myself to LA, SF, or Big Sur…but I want to do them all!
Looking at this, the 50/50 club would be keeping me from races that I feel that I would enjoy, and forcing me to races that I would not enjoy as much. That completely defeats the point in doing the 50/50 club.
So, I will let 50/50 slide. I will still track states but not obsess over them. I will still join the club as a milestone, but that will be about it. Choice of races will be based on the event itself (and the bling), not on state geography.
This sport has a lot of options and possibilities. Many prefer the smaller races. I lI’ve the pageantry of the big events. NY, Chicago, Honolulu, MCM are all on my bucket list. But, for right now, Omaha and Sioux Falls are not…