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.
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.
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?