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Traveling for Races

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I mentioned a few weeks back that I’m beginning to build an imaginary race calendar for the fall – it’s pretty realistic but still imaginary because who knows how much running I’ll do with a young baby!  But it’s still fun to envision doing this or that race, to dream about tackling a new course, or to figure out how I can build the local 15K into half marathon training plans. 

 

Soon enough, my imaginary race calendar was extending into 2013.  I’ve begun to eye the Half Ironman.  I always said that I would never, ever do a Half Ironman but… well, you know what they say about the word ‘never’ (but really, I will never do an Ironman).  I used to be scared of the swim, but now, more than anything, I’m concerned about the bike leg of a Half Ironman.  Assuming that I could get over this fear, there are two popular Half Ironmans near Charlotte – the Beach to Battleship and Augusta 70.3.  Both are at least three hours away; doing either event would definitely require at least one night in a hotel.

 

In general, I prefer to do smaller, local races because they are generally cheaper and less of a headache.  Getting to the event is simple, there’s no traffic, there’s no bottle-necking at the start.  Large races can be much more fun – better support, crowd support, better goodies – but over 45-or-so races, I’ve just learned I prefer smaller events. I recently realized that I kind of feel the same way about traveling for races.  Sometimes, it is really cool.  But sometimes, it’s a huge headache!

 

The furthest that I’ve traveled for an event is 2,444 miles.  I flew from Orlando, Florida to Napa Valley, California for the Echelon Gran Fondo Century Bike Race (100 Miles).

I had a ton of fun at that race (although I seriously still have nightmares about the insanely steep 5K climb in the middle of the ride); however, I’m not 100% sure it was worth the logistical headache.  I had to take my entire bike apart, pack it into a special box, and get it on the plane with me.  Then, I had to reassemble it in California… and repeat the boxing process three days later to get it home.  Ugh.

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When I lived in Florida, I did Croom’s Fools Run, which was a few hours away from my home city in the middle of nowhere and required a hotel stay.  I LOVED to travel for this race – it was totally worth it, every year.  Since the race was small and in a tiny town, the hotel room cost less than $100, and I always ended up splitting it with friends. 

I drove about two hours for my last marathon, and that wasn’t bad at all – mostly because we didn’t stay overnight.  We just woke up riiiiiidiculously early.

Drink and food station in the back of the car.  Gotta be prepared.

 

The way I see it, there are a few strong ‘pros’ to race travel:

 

  • The race becomes a fun weekend away with your significant other or friends.  It’s especially fun to arrange with out-of-town friends to meet up in a new city for a race.
  • You get to experience a new place.  You can extend the trip and go sightseeing.
  • Not all types of races are offered in every city.  If you want to do a big, famous marathon, for example, you may need to travel to Chicago or New York.
  • The whole weekend becomes about the race, which allows you to be hyper-focused.

 

However, there are some drawbacks or ‘things to consider,’ too.

 

  • Generally, the race ends up costing you more money.  You have to pay for transportation, hotels, and more food-related costs.
  • You have to plan ahead and bring your own pre-race breakfast food.
  • Packing can feel totally overwhelming.  Don’t forget your sneakers!
  • Travel can mess up your, ahem, digestion, which can mess up your entire race.
  • You might be racing in an altitude, on terrain, or in weather that is unfamiliar to you.

 

I guess, at the end of the day, it really just depends on what kind of person you are – do you prefer the familiarity of home or wanna get out there and explore?  I guess I’m a race hermit.  But if I want to do a big Half Ironman, I’ve got to get out of my comfort and out of my town!  Time to pull on my big girl bike shorts, I guess. Winking smile

 

What’s the furthest you’ve traveled for a race?  Anyone ever go to another country for a race? Do you like traveling for races or do you prefer to stay local?

{ 52 comments }

 

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  • Ebernst June 4, 2012, 2:17 pm

    I traveled this weekend to Kure Beach for the Kure Beach Double Sprint! Probably could have gotten up insanely early and driven the 2 hours to Wilmington in the morning from Raleigh, but who doesn’t want a beach weekend!?! (Also, this race was insanely fun! I would recommened it!)

    As for the Half Ironman, I am also planning on racing 70.3 next year and have it planned to either do Augusta or Beach to Battleship!! It will be fun to watch your training as I do mine!!

    Reply
    • Caitlin June 4, 2012, 2:18 pm

      Sweet! I’ve heard lots of votes for B2B over Augusta.

      Reply
      • Mary June 4, 2012, 4:29 pm

        I did B2B half last year, and am considering Augusta this year… very lukewarm on B2B, conditions this year were terrible (gusty winds over 20mph, freezing cold). On the upside, I did well – won my agegroup (yay). Plus they’re moving it a week or two earlier this year, which should = better weather. That said, I will never ever do B2B again. On the other hand, I’ve only heard good things about Augusta!

        Reply
        • CaitlinHTP June 5, 2012, 1:34 pm

          congrats on winning your age group!!!

          Reply
  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat June 4, 2012, 2:20 pm

    This post comes at such a great time because I’m traveling to Vancouver (only about a 4 hr plane ride) this summer for the Lululemon SeaWheeze half marathon. I’m meeting one of my long-time besties there and we’re making a girl’s weekend out of it. I’m so pumped!! I used to live in the Middle East and once registered for a 10k back in Edmonton, Alberta (where I’m originally from) that took place during the summer. My family was flying to Edmonton anyway to visit family, but I guess you could say that’s the furthest I’ve traveled for a race! Not sure how many miles it’d be but it was the equivalent of 19 hours on the plane!

    Reply
  • emily June 4, 2012, 2:20 pm

    I flew from Buffalo to Orlando for my 1st (only) half marathon. It was fun to make a weekend of it with my friends but we walked waaaaaay too much the day before the race!

    Reply
  • AG June 4, 2012, 2:23 pm

    Beach to Battleship is AWESOME!!!!
    I did the full last year with a group of friends and we rented a beach house right on Wrightsville Beach for a week. The cost of that race is so much cheaper than any Ironman sponsored event too. Plus B2B has the fastest swim times ever because of the strong current.

    Reply
  • Justy2003 June 4, 2012, 2:30 pm

    The furthest I’ve gone for a race was the Napa to Sonoma half marathon in California (I live in Kentucky). It was awesome and I’m planning to travel to Utah in a couple months for a half marathon out there. It gives me another reason to travel to these places and run through new and gorgeous scenery. I’ve got “running a half in another country” on my bucket list of things to do…I would LOVE to do that!

    Reply
    • Lydia June 4, 2012, 2:38 pm

      Kentucky, represent! (I’m from KY, too!)

      I’ve never travelled for a race, but I love the idea of making races a part of a vacation. A destination race to anchor a week of fun would be great!

      Reply
      • Alyse June 4, 2012, 3:13 pm

        I’m from Kentucky, too! Small world. :-)

        I plan on running the Run the Bluegrass half marathon next March and that’s going to require on overnight stay.

        Reply
  • Maija June 4, 2012, 2:34 pm

    the farthest I’ve traveled for a race was from Portland, OR to Vancouver, BC for the half marathon. It was my first half and I wanted to make it a special race and the reputation of the Vancouver marathon was great so I figured it would probably be worth it. We made a week vacay out of it (with my mom and sis) and it was THE BEST experience EVER. I don’t know how another race can top it!
    I would say traveling is worth it if the race has a great rep from sources you can trust. Plus if you’re settling down in Charlotte you’re gonna get sick of the same races every year at some point, right ;)

    Reply
  • abbi June 4, 2012, 2:35 pm

    I like to stay local or local enough that I can drive to them the morning of, even if that’s super early. Travel costs are really expensive and I’m not a great traveler anyway! I have done a few that required hotel stays and a half that was part of a vacation as well :)

    Reply
  • christa June 4, 2012, 2:36 pm

    the furthest i’ve been is san diego or washington dc (from houston).
    i would def say go for the beach to battleship. i am very glad that my first half iron was not an IM branded event – those are MUCH larger and more expensive. it’s good to experience both, but i’d go for smaller – just my two cents :o)

    Reply
  • Lindsey June 4, 2012, 2:38 pm

    We travelled about 1700 miles last summer from Alberta, Canada to California to run the Disneyland Half Marathon. It was so much fun, we turned it into a 10 day road trip too. Besides that race we tend to stay fairly local, maybe travelling 2-3 hours but staying close to home still.

    Reply
  • Danielle June 4, 2012, 2:43 pm

    I’ve only run locally (Ottawa) but I recently started looking into “destination” half-marathons and marathons, including the Medoc Marathon (wine at fuel stations in Southern France? yes please!) and the Antartica marathon or half-marathon. If only it wasn’t so expensive to get to either place!

    Reply
  • Sunny June 4, 2012, 3:32 pm

    I live in southern illinois and we have 5k’s but most other races I have to travel 2-6 hours to do so it’s become old hat to me. We tend to stay overnight if its an early race but that’s just because a 4:30 wake-up doesn’t sound appetizing :)

    Reply
  • phyllis June 4, 2012, 3:50 pm

    I travel to visit my family and do races in their towns in an effort to promote good health habits and be an inspiration for my grand children.
    I wish I was a runner 20 years earlier ! It has been a blast.

    Reply
  • Lisa June 4, 2012, 3:51 pm

    Just curious about why the bike portion concerns you? I still find the swim very intimidating!

    Reply
    • CaitlinHTP June 5, 2012, 1:30 pm

      it is so far, and it’s very hard for me to train for a 50 mile ride in charlotte (not very bike friendly). biking is def not my strong suit.

      Reply
  • Emily June 4, 2012, 3:56 pm

    The fact that you included “crotch-wise” is precisely why I love you and this blog. Because let’s be real.

    :-)

    Reply
    • CaitlinHTP June 5, 2012, 1:30 pm

      hahah just trying to be honest! that shit might hurt.

      Reply
  • Tanya June 4, 2012, 3:59 pm

    I’ve never done a race that wasn’t within a hour of the city I live in. But I read a piece recently by a woman who ran the Prague marathon and it really got me thinking…

    Reply
  • Karen @ Run Shop Travel June 4, 2012, 4:03 pm

    I’ve “traveled” for 4 of my 6 half marathons – one was within 1-1.5 hours of where I was living and I just chose to stay in a hotel the night before for convenience on race morning.

    The other 3 I made into little vacations – United Healthcare half (Newport, RI), Las Vegas Rock n Roll half and the Disney Princess half. I really enjoyed all of them and had fun on my vacations built around them.

    I think it is important to do your research – I probably wouldn’t travel for a race with a much different altitude because I wouldn’t be able to train in those conditions. Other than that pretty much anything is game!

    Reply
  • Rebecca @ Blueberry Smiles June 4, 2012, 4:23 pm

    My boyfriend’s training for an Ironman and so I go with him to races pretty often. The farthest we’ve gone (so far) is about 7 hrs away. It’s really fun to make a weekend trip of it! We usually spend the day after the race exploring the area and doing fun “touristy” things. The cost of far-away races def adds up, but we’ve gotten to explore a lot of great, new places and enjoy a wknd together. I’m all for races where you have to travel! Some of his friends are doing the Ironman in Nice, France though…..and I hear that gets insanely expensive…I’m not sure that would be worth it, but anywhere in the US and I’m down :-)

    Reply
  • Jess June 4, 2012, 4:26 pm

    I LOVE traveling for races. I’ve traveled to Nashville, Seattle, and Moab for races. This fall I’m doing the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Fran.

    I’m not saying you won’t, but I’d hold off on registering for any races and planning on jumping into training when you get the ok for exercise after the baby. My LO was born July 3 (she’s almost 1…eek!) and though I started running slowly at 5 weeks pp, I wasn’t ready for any sort of training for a few months. Even then, it was short distances…5k, 10k and I did my first half in April. Probably would have been ready earlier, but training is hard with a baby and breastfeeding.

    Reply
  • Amanda June 4, 2012, 4:28 pm

    Yeah, I can see why you might feel unsure about the bike portion. Fifty miles is 50 miles, even after you have a century under your belt.

    Whenever I read race recaps or training reports from people who do triathlons, I always feel like the skimp on their training when it comes to the bike. They think it’ll be the easiest part because they’ve always known how to ride to a bike (or so they think), but when it comes down to it, cycling demands serious time and effort if you wanna get fast.

    Signed,
    A collegiate racer.

    Reply
    • CaitlinHTP June 4, 2012, 5:09 pm

      Yeah! 50 miles is a LONG ASS way. I’ve done two metrics too but still – i hated every second of them. cycling is hard. it’s definitely the underrated sport.

      Reply
  • Blair June 4, 2012, 4:34 pm

    I’m going to Berlin (from San Diego) in September for the marathon!

    Reply
    • Army Amy* June 4, 2012, 5:32 pm

      Lucky! Berlin is my dream marathon! Safe travels and have a great race!*

      Reply
  • Liz June 4, 2012, 4:42 pm

    I’m sure you know this but you can’t call the Beach to Battleship a Half Ironman. Ironman is actually a branded race, not a distance so you can only call a Half Ironman if you’re talking about one of their races. Otherwise, it’s just a half iron distance event.

    I’ve never really traveled for my own races (once for a 5k with my mom). But we travel for my husbands races all the time. We live in St. Louis and have traveled to Florida, California, New York, Minnesota and many shorter trips for him to run marathons. We usually make a little vacay out of it. In fact, he ran the Goofy Challenge a couple years ago and we extended the trip into a honeymoon. I would be much more concerned about traveling on a plane with a bike for a race, but just running seems easy enough and a great way for us to see the country! (He’s trying to run marathons in all 50 states).

    Reply
  • Tori @ In Love and Peanut Butter June 4, 2012, 4:43 pm

    I love this post! I’m doing Augusta 70.3 this year for my first half Ironamn.

    While I love the feeling of local races, traveling to a race has it’s perks. Its a wonderful way to see a new city! I flew all the way to Barcelona for my first Marathon. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience.

    Reply
  • Hillary June 4, 2012, 5:23 pm

    I definitely prefer to stay local! Racing and traveling are stressful enough on their own—never mind together!

    Reply
  • annejuliet June 4, 2012, 5:26 pm

    i did b2b last year and it was ridiculously awesome. highly recommended. super well organized. and the swim was SO FAST! stayed in the hotel with friends, so that wasn’t too bad. we are in dc, so we just strapped the bikes up top and road tripped! no bike box needed!

    Reply
  • Emily June 4, 2012, 5:48 pm

    I love traveling for races, personally. I guess the furthest I’ve traveled was to Orlando (from Nashville) in January to do the Disney Half Marathon, but in 2 weeks I’ll be headed to Seattle for a conference and I decided to stay over and do the Rock n Roll Seattle half. So that will soon be my furthest travel!

    Reply
  • Julie June 4, 2012, 6:03 pm

    Hi! I have been reading your blog for a little while now, but have never commented. I wanted to on this post because I love the topic! My husband and I like to do one or two “big” races a year (a marathon or triathlon) that require travel more than few hours. We are trying to (eventually) run a race in every state. It’s such a great way to see new cities. Last summer we road tripped to Idaho for his full Ironman, and a year ago we both ran Boston!

    Reply
  • Mary June 4, 2012, 6:25 pm

    I am travelling to Sonoma,CA for my half Ironman from Michigan this summer. We decided to rent bikes rather than transport ours for the race. I also plan to stay and spend the next week for a conference/vacation after. Less than 6 weeks to go…I am starting to get nervous!

    Reply
  • B @ Crags and Veggies June 4, 2012, 6:28 pm

    You should definitely do a half iron man! I love traveling to a race just because it’s a new adventure with new scenery. However, local races are nice for regularity because I get to know people and can start with people who run/bike at a similar pace to me.

    Reply
  • Ari @ Ari's Menu June 4, 2012, 6:29 pm

    I haven’t traveled any further than a couple hours of driving, but the last race I did was at a mile higher elevation than I’m used to, which I somehow thought would be fine, but it killlled me, and I ened up with altitude sickness after the race! I’m traveling for New York in November, though, and I expect that to be a million times better than doing anything in Phoenix :)

    Reply
  • Lisa @ Jogging on Coffee June 4, 2012, 6:50 pm

    I’ve only traveled for one race so far but I have two international races coming up and I can’t wait. I think it’s more exciting to race in another city cause you get to see new things :)

    Reply
  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats June 4, 2012, 7:21 pm

    I would love to travel for a race, but so far all of mine have been in Chicago! And my first marathon will be Chicago 2012!

    Reply
  • Aundra @ Fit for Life June 4, 2012, 7:45 pm

    The farthest I’ve traveled is 1.5 hrs from home for a race. Next month, I’ll venture 4 hrs from home for a race and then across the country for a race in Oct!

    Reply
  • Kristina June 4, 2012, 8:05 pm

    I’m not sure that I would do international travel for a race, but I’ve loved, for the most part, the races for which I have traveled. Probably the best experience is the Wildflower Tri which is held around the Central Coast of CA. It’s an easy trip but great to make a weekend out of it (which I did last year). It is also definitely the biggest race that I’ve attended with thousands of people racing and/or participating, and most people are traveling to race which makes it fun.
    My next “big” race will be in Boulder, CO, so I’m traveling for that, but as we make a trip to Boulder every summer, it doesn’t feel that I’m traveling solely for the race. That just happens to be one component of the visit.

    Reply
  • Lindsey June 4, 2012, 8:42 pm

    This is my first season doing triathlons, and I’ve already determined that I love traveling for a race! I love turning it into a weekend event…almost like a mini-vacation :)

    Reply
  • Julia H. @ Going Gulia June 4, 2012, 8:46 pm

    I’m “traveling” for my first half marathon in October, though it’s really only about an hour drive (or 2+ hours if there’s crazy traffic) from my home. The race is at 8 am, though, so I figured it’d be less stressful/tiring to just stay in a hotel by the race the night before than half to get up extra early to drive there on race day. Plus, It just sounds like fun to be in the area the night before–the hotel I’m staying at is specifically recommended by the race, so there will probably be a lot of runners there that night…time to make friends!! :)

    Reply
  • Kelly June 4, 2012, 9:07 pm

    Just for the record I am on team Augusta. :)

    Reply
  • Rebecca June 4, 2012, 9:47 pm

    My dad’s the runner in our house. He’s doing a Half Iron Man this weekend! He usually stays within a 2-hour “radius” for his races, but I went with him to one that was 4 hours away. The only real reason he was doing it was because of family there, one of whom was in the race… But it was fun. We made a trip of it. We’re fortunate enough that most of his races away from home are near enough to family that he can stay with them rather than paying for hotels and stuff. The majority of the ones he does are here or within like a half hour drive. :)

    Reply
  • Jillian June 4, 2012, 10:21 pm

    In April I drove about 5 hours south of where I live now to do a sprint tri near my hometown. I still stayed in a hotel the night before the race (it was less than $100 and less than 1/4 mile from the starting line -win!) so I wouldn’t have to get up quite so early and worry about the 45 minute drive, finding parking, etc. The cost in time, food, and the hotel was totally worth it to have my entire family watch me cross the finish line and get to spend the rest of the weekend with them.

    Reply
  • Meagan June 4, 2012, 10:51 pm

    I would def recommend beach to battleship. I have never competed, but I have volunteered at the event and it’s very well organized. Plus Wilmington is beautiful!

    Reply
  • Lexi @ You, Me, & A World to See June 4, 2012, 11:55 pm

    Wow all the way to California! Packing a bike does not sound fun. Kudos :)

    Reply
  • Mary June 5, 2012, 12:46 am

    What good timing for your post! I travel on this week from San Diego to Chicago to do my first triathlon, the SheRox one. 3 reasons 1.)another blogger, who unfortunately got injured and can’t race, 2.) my sister and her family are in the area so it’s vacation time, and 3.) I don’t need a wetsuit for the swim!
    It’s been a bit stressful getting all the logistics squared away, but I think I’ve got everything taken care of and I’m so excited to do my first triathlon! I can’t wait. I’m renting a bike, so I don’t have to worry about shipping mine.
    I’ll probably stick with local triathlons after this one at least for this year. San Diego has one almost every weekend!

    Reply
  • Amber K June 5, 2012, 2:18 pm

    Traveling for a race sounds like torture to me. Then again racing in general sounds like torture to me ;) But I’d prefer a nice relaxing weekend away. No thoughts of exercise allowed!

    Reply