This is for my fellow Half Fanatics, 100 half marathon club, 50 states half marathon group and Black Girls Run friends. It is always great getting great recommendations from you about races that are worth traveling for so I figured I’d share the love. I completed a total of 16 races this year and, aside from Ragnar, these were my favorites.
Chilly Half Marathon- Burlington, ON (March) http://www.chillyhalfmarathon.ca/site-chilly/Chilly_Half.html
The locals are friendly and the race is well organized. Multiple, assigned post-race locations with free real food and adult beverages> I love of idea of assigned post race locations to avoid overcrowding at any one spot. Lots of people out cheering even though it was only 10 degrees last year. A very diverse population and equally diverse mix of fantastic restaurants with great service. The race hotel is on the waterfront and the views are great. The city is very walkable. I love a trip where the only driving is on the first and last days. My only complaint about the course is that is is a large loop on two very long streets so you will literally be running down the same street for hours.
Cesar Rodney Half Marathon- Wilmington, DE (April) http://action.lung.org/site/TR?fr_id=13470&pg=entry
A lot of people travel for this race so you will make lots of new friends from various run clubs. Most of the people I met had run it more than once. The first part of the course is along the Wilmington boardwalk. It was a beautiful (though windy) course. It felt like I was running through a post card. There could be more race markers during the last 4 miles of the race but luckily there were enough spectators out to keep runners from going the wrong way. The post race was great (pizza!) and the local YMCA gave all runners full use of their facilities to get a hot shower after the race. For those of us who drive home after races this is huge. There is a surprising lack of local publicity for the race. There were no signs around the city and the local hotel and restaurant staff had no idea there was a race going on.
Road Apple Series- Garden Spot Village Marathon/Half-Marathon/Relay (April) and Bird-In-Hand Marathon (September)- Lancaster County, PA http://www.bihhalf.com/road-apple-award.php
Warning. These races are hilly. Super hilly. Your knees and ankles will be mad at you when its over but you’ll be fine in a couple days. Both of these races go through Amish country and are well supported by the local community. People set up water stops outside of their farms and come out in droves to watch the race and cheer on the runners. Come in the night before and enjoy the pre-race pasta dinner made by the Amish. Everything is homemade, fattening and delicious. There were 5 different pies to choose from at the Bird-In-Hand dinner not to mention a whoopie pie in my goodie bag. There were also lots of locally made crafts and furniture for sale at the race expos. Bring your wallet because you’ll want to buy something. Lots of the Amish participated in the races in their traditional clothing and a couple were even race pacers. You haven’t lived until you’ve been beaten in a race by a man wearing suspenders, loafers and wool pants. Lots of local bed and breakfasts much cheaper than chain hotels and all full of fellow runners so you will make lots of new friends. The only negative was all the runners who stopped to take pictures of the Amish (a no-no) or who stepped onto their property to get photo ops with livestock, farms, etc. Your reward for completing both races…..a plaque with real horse poo (aka road apples) petrified to it. One of my dogs likes to sniff it when she walks past it but I promise there is no smell left that is detectable by humans. I can’t believe I’m saying this as I think about my sad hobble back to the hotels after the races but I know I’m doing this again.