I've now completed a marathon in five states since I started running marathons two years ago.
Since Columbus was so much fun, I thought it might be worthwhile to have a rundown of the races I've done. What marathon has been my favorite so far? Which was the most beautiful? I hope that this will help me keep track later on, so I will make an update after every 5 marathons.
Napa Valley Marathon- March 2007 (3:22); my first marathon couldn't have been much better than this one in California. The course was mostly on a downhill grade, and was mostly on a single road that weaved through wine country. Gorgeous!! Post race food was a little different than others and included vegetable and chicken soups, and there were free massages. Great medals and swag; long sleeved dry-wicking t-shirts and a really cool duffle bag! Winner ( Devon Crosby-Helms ) took home her weight in wine. Now THAT is a sweet prize. The trip to Napa was nice, but long, because my friend Marc and I did it on the cheap. Stayed in a crappy motel (pretty sure there was blood on the walls...), broke his fan belt about 40miles from the expo (and almost missed packet pickup), and then had to drive 15hours back to SLC the next day... but it was totally worth it! Whidbey Island Marathon: My second marathon (3:31 was in scenic northwest Washington. I originally planned to run this marathon with one of my best friends and former roommate, Katie, but she got injured during training. I rode up to the island with some of her med school friends that were doing the race and met up with Marc again for a running reunion. I was disappointed in the expo- we arrived around 530pm (the expo went from noon-7pm or something like that...) and they were out of my size shirt. I stayed at a hotel about three miles from the bus pickup and waited for someone in the hotel to come down for breakfast, and I just asked for a ride then (my pseudo-hitchhiking talents). The island of Whidbey was beautiful, but we didn't get to run over Deception Pass (luckily, one of my MegaTough teammates did at the 2008 Ragnar Relay). It was great weather, and the course was challenging. Lots of steep hills in the first half, and the second had a downhill that I wasn't prepared for. I had stripped my layers throughout the race, but when I crossed the line, it had started to rain and was ~40degrees. Yet, I didn't get an emergency blanket. I was bummed about the post-race food (bags of uncooked pasta, hemp-flavored oatmeal, and hot chocolate- but you had to buy the hot chocolate). We didn't stick around for the awards. Also had to pay for massages. Lincoln National Guard Marathon- My third marathon (3:38) in Nebraska was the largest marathon I had done at that point. It was a blast! I stayed with my friend Sarah in Omaha and some other midwest friends came too, and we got a hotel the night before in Lincoln. Although I felt like crap during the race (having got sick about three weeks prior) and didn't run the time I was shooting for, I still had a blast. The first half was gorgeous and wound through some beautiful neighborhoods. The second half was a little more lonely but had a turn-around in a park. It was a little hillier of a course than I expected, but it wasn't bad... I just wasn't on my game that day. Post race was outstanding; Great massages with practically no line, nice short-sleeve shirts, cool medals, incredibly helpful volunteers.
IM Wisconsin, Marathon leg- My "fourth" marathon (4:11) was at the end of the Ironman Wisconsin, but I am counting it until I get a chance to do another marathon in Wisconsin. Of course, it was a blast and a lot of fun. Something regular marathon races should consider having at aid stations: Coca-Cola!!! I love it. I stopped and walked through every aid station besides the last two. The crowds were, of course, phenomenal. And post race swag, considering the $550 entry fee, was worth it. I got a hat, a shirt, a medal, and the glory because I am now an Ironman.
Columbus Marathon- My fifth marathon (3:19) in Ohio was the latest and greatest. I stayed with my friend Kendra in Columbus the night before the race, after driving down to Monroe on Friday. The expo was the largest I'd seen yet, and it had a lot of really cool stuff. I didn't dilly-dally too much, though. Nice shirts, and the use of D-Tags made crossing the finish line a lot less crowded. Even though we started with 15000 people, it cleared out pretty fast. Great aid stations, and very frequent (every mile). Awesome race entertainment (bands every half mile it seemed). Great post-race swag (hats, medals) and free massages and food (although the massager I had was a little less aggressive than I wanted). TweetMyTime was awesome! They were trying something brand new, and it totally worked.
Here is my ranking thus far: #5: Whidbey Island- not as organized as I would have liked. #4: Lincoln National Guard- The top four are pretty close together, but I think this one takes the bottom because I wasn't happy with how I performed #3: IM Wisconsin- a two-loop course made spectating easy #2: Napa Valley #1: Columbus
The top 2 are really close, and the tie breaker was the entry fee and technology. Columbus was cheaper ($70 opposed to $90). Swag was a little better at Napa, but... I think the fact that I got a free entry and CBus had TweetMyTime really pushed them over the top.