Since I recently completed my 100th race (the Hershey 10k) I thought it would be fun to look back at the 100 races I’ve done and break down my race history with some stats and give some thoughts on the “best of” races in lots of different categories (based on the races I’ve run). I would be really hard pressed to give my overall favorite race ever, but I think I can give some suggestions and things to consider if you are creating your own race schedule.
By the numbers…
33 half marathons
4 color runs
2 mud runs (Warrior Dash and Dirty Girl)
1 Bermuda Triangle Challenge
1 Goofy Challenge
7 years, 10 months of running from my first race to #100!
The Best Of…
(based on the races I’ve run at least 🙂 )
Best Half Marathon for a First Timer: Disney Princess Half Marathon – This race is all about fun and the course time limit is very generous. Instead of focusing on a finishing time (which you shouldn’t do on your first half anyhow) you can focus on having fun in the happiest place on earth!
Best Marathon for a First-Timer: Wineglass Marathon – They have a really long time limit and the volunteers are super friendly. The water stops stay open for the back of the pack runners. The course is a net-downhill so you can focus on completing the distance and less about the course itself. They also leave the finish line open for the very last runner (and the photographers stick around too). Oh and the medals are hand printed glass!
Best Half Marathon to Race: D&L Heritage Half Marathon – I may be partial since this race holds my current half marathon PR, but this course can’t be beat. There is one hill at the beginning and from there it is smooth sailing downhill. The hill does not set your time back at all, given the rest of the course. The course is also shaded so it doesn’t get too hot, even if the sun is out. They offer pacers (including 2:45 and 3:00 if I remember right) so you can tag along with others to help reach your goal!
Best 5k to Race: One of my favorite 5ks was the Rock n Roll Savannah 5k which I realize is pretty random. But it is flat, runs through a scenic park and ends in a baseball stadium which is really cool. It’s definitely PRable if the weather cooperates!
My Proudest Performance: Niagara Falls International Half Marathon – I ran this race as miles 8-20 of a 20 miler during marathon training, and managed to PR and break the 2:30 barrier for the first time. Oh, and it was rainy and windy. 🙂
Races I’d Do Again and Again: Pittsburgh Half Marathon – It may be clear from my race history but I love Pittsburgh. This year will be my 6th year running it. The energy and excitement that running in Pittsburgh brings keeps me going back year after year. The fact that there are tons of awesome spectators, it’s so well organized and the registration price isn’t insane for a big city race (as long as you register early) are the icing on the cake.
I also love the Hershey 10k (5 years and counting…) because of its simple packet pickup and fun course that runs through the theme park. It’s a challenging one because of the hills but I love being able to push myself for “only” 6.2 miles during this race.
Race I’d Never Do Again: Hershey Half Marathon – This is nothing that is fault of the race itself, more my own preference (since clearly I’ve gone back year after year for the Hershey 10k and also gone back to do the half marathon relay). I had a really rough race here in 2011 – my legs were tired by mile 5. And the hills just never gave me a reprieve. I have no desire to give the entire half marathon another go.
Race that is a Rural Gem: Bird in Hand Half Marathon – From starting in a field and dodging cow poop to running between Amish farms and school houses, it really does not get more rural than that. Throw in some wonderful scenery (think green hills and clear blue sky) and well stocked water stations (and Rita’s ice!) and you’ve got an awesome rural race.
Race that is a City Gem: Cherry Blossom 10 miler – This is a wonderful race through Washington DC that doesn’t go through the mall. Instead you run around the tidal basin and are treated to some gorgeous waterfront scenery.
The Route 66 Marathon/Half Marathon or 5k are also great races that give you a tour of Tulsa Oklahoma and the surrounding neighborhoods. The locals come out and cheer for you and running through Tulsa is like one big party!
Most Challenging Race: Harpers Ferry Half Marathon – There are so many insane hills during this race. Throw in some trail running and running through a battlefield and you’ve got a tough race in front of you. But, the views and the gorgeous course make it pretty worth it. Plus running through a National Park is pretty cool too!
The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon Half Marathon comes in a close second place for most challenging race. It’s also got some relentless hills and can be hot since it is in the summer but again, the views are spectacular. Unfortunately upon doing some research I’ve found that this race has been discontinued. Hopefully some day it will come back!
Best Water Stops: The Springfoot Half Marathon had some awesomely fun themed water stops (like Harry Potter!). The volunteers were having a blast which made the runners have a blast too!
Best Challenge Series: While I know Disney’s Goofy Challenge has some huge fans, I have to hand this one to the Bermuda Triangle Challenge. With the first race (1 mile) being downtown, the second (10k) in the middle of the island and the third (13.1/26.2) a loop (or 2) around the entire island, this challenge shows you a LOT of Bermuda and there’s little repeating. The locals are out and cheering and super friendly too, and those ocean views can’t be beat!
Best Bling: Monster Mash Half Marathon – I’m not sure exactly why but this medal is one of my favorites. It’s huge (the largest one I own probably), heavy, glows in the dark, and has a spinner. and really, its just super unique and has a fun theme for a late October race!
Furthest From Home: Runaway Pumpkin Half Marathon – I am so thankful that work took me to Portland, Oregon and I was able to time my flights to take in a half marathon outside of the city. The scenery was amazing. This race was a true “YOLO” experience for me.
I hope this may help someone who is curious about races. As always, I have a complete listing of all of the races I’ve done on my Races page so you can find links to all of my recaps there.
It has been quite a ride. 🙂