The Road to Boston Runs Through Richmond

Allen's Hopeful Road to Boston

Allen's Hopeful Road to Boston

After much trepidation, I finally closed my eyes and jumped into the deep end of the pool.  Yesterday, I registered for the 2009 Richmond Marathon (and even convinced my girlfriend, who has never raced farther than an 8K, to sign up for the half).

 Why the trepidation?  I’ve signed up for exactly 3 marathons, and for 2 of those 3, I got injured within weeks of registering.  I registered for, yet never ran, the Marine Corps Marathon (torn meniscus).  I practically limped  through the entire inaugral Bob Potts Memorial Marathon (sprained quadriceps – I took 4 ibuprofen about an hour prior to the start just so I could begin the race relatively pain-free).  I tend to register, get amped to qualify for Boston, rush to jack up my mileage, and then injure myself.
But you can’t qualify for the Boston Marathon without first registering for and running  a marathon.  So I recently began, with much caution, researching marathons to find that one, that perfect, ever-elusive Boston qualifier.

I mentioned my quest for the right marathon to various runners.  Several, including members of the Charlotte Running Club, are running OBX, the marathon on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  The timing’s right, early November, and I like that people from the club will be there giving each other moral support.

But before I committed, I had to first do my marathon due diligence and that means reading reviews on from runners who’ve actually run the race.  You can take  many of the reviews there with a grain of salt – people will, and do, complain about anything and everything.   For example, people often complain about the weather as if the race organizers somehow intentionally dialed up a muggy day.

But when you notice a valid complaint showing up in multiple reviews, you’d be well advised to take it seriously.  Here are some excerpts from some of the OBX reviews:

 “If you think you’re here for a PR or BQ, you may have chosen the wrong “flat” course.

 The 3-mile run on the sand road will slow you down and the thin trail through the woods prevents passing.”

 “…covering about 4 miles on hard, sand trails will slow you down.”

 “I was hoping to PR on this course but was not prepared for the trail run through  the sand, pinestraw, and logs. Those 3 miles were a character builder.”

After reading this more than a few times,  I was sufficiently spooked enough to begin looking for another marathon. 

Enter Richmond.  Runner’s World named the Richmond Marathon a ‘must do’.  The editors went so far as to select it for their ‘Run With Us’ challenge where they’ll be running along with scores of their readers .  That sounded really cool to me,  but I was still noncommittal.  The reviews on Richmond were mixed, but the majority of complaints were about things that don’t affect performance (not enough pretzels, running out of post-race beer, that kind of thing).

Then I passed Derrick, one of my fellow marathoners, in the hallway at work and he asked, ‘So what’s your next marathon?’ to which I responded, ‘I haven’t decided yet.  You?’  He answered, ‘Richmond’.  I took that as a sign, bit the bullet, and registered.

So to everybody running the 2009 Richmond marathon, see you on November 14th.  Let’s go qualify for Boston!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: