by Janne Rand Gilligan
As a creature of habit I tend to pick my favorite events and stick to them. Here are five of my favorite races (not in any particular order because they all have their perks in their own unique ways).
Mohawk Hudson River Half and Full Marathon – This race is one of my favorites because not only is it local and I don’t have to go through the hassle of traveling, but there is something about running on those beautiful October mornings with all the leaves changing color and a crispness in the air. I always feel relaxed and happy coming to the start of this race because I don’t feel I have to stress about the parking and the bathrooms as much as other races. I also enjoy this race because both the half and full courses are fast and this is the perfect chance to aim for that fall race PR goal.
Lake Placid Half and Full Marathon – This one is a no brainer. It is in my hometown and I love the feel of the whole event. This is a quality sizeable event, but at the same time it is small enough where the start line and morning feels relaxed. The course, while not particularly fast, is beautiful and rhythmic. The energy in town is contagious as people love the athletic spirit and come out and cheer. The people training for ironman are all pumped and bring a lively energy into the atmosphere.
The Whole Winter Series—I am grateful this series exists and that it’s perfectly spread out throughout the winter months. I personally look forward to these as they keep me going and give me something to look forward to during the winter. They are the perfect way to get out for long runs and/or hard effort runs on otherwise gray mornings devoid of motivation. There is always good company and a wholesome vibe. Being able to choose from a selection of different distances within each event is also a plus. It is also nice to come back inside afterwards to fresh hot soup and tea!
Naples Daily News Half marathon – If you’re looking for a mid-winter race and to take a break from the cold and travel to Florida, this is also a great race. The course is beautiful and runs through beautiful neighborhoods, wind is not a problem because you are not running in the same direction the whole time, and the temperature at that time of year is usually on the cool side with little humidity. I’ve done this race twice and I’ll do it again someday.
Martha’s Vineyard 20 Miler – 20 miles is a great distance. You get the feel of accomplishment that you would get in a marathon without that extra 6.2 miles! I’ve only done this race once but it was a memorable experience. The event happens in February and visiting Martha’s vineyard and staying at their cute hotels in the middle of the winter is very cozy. The course is fair with no big hills and half of it runs along the ocean and the other half runs down a bike path. The year I did it, I ran well and felt good the whole time. I never got bored because the scenery changes as you get on the bike path and just as I crossed the finish line it started to snow and then there was a blizzard. The whole island turned into a winter wonderland.