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Richmond Marathon Recap, Better Value than New York City Marathon

Posted Nov 12 2012 10:53am

On Saturday I ran a marathon.  It wasn’t the marathon that I thought I was going to run this year but as it turned out I had a a more enjoyable time.  The Richmond Marathon was a fantastic event, I enjoyed the entire experience from the  gear at their expo, to the beautifully challenging course, the supportive crowd throughout and the fantastic after party. I’ve now completed 5 marathons- New York twice, Chicago, Brooklyn- and I can confidently say that mid major marathons like Richmond offer the best bang for the buck.

With race fees increasing at the major city marathons, topped with the travel expenses to expensive cities like New York, mid-major cities like Richmond are going to become more and more popular.  I was caught up in the New York City marathon PR debacle a few weeks back and continue to be amazed how things went down.  People spent tons of money to get to New York only to have the race cancelled.  The big winner in all of this?  Marathons like Richmond, which have been run for 35 years and have a streamlined and runner friendly environment.

Why do I say marathons like Richmond are the big winners?  Well, it is quite easy.  A runner like myself which never had Richmond on my list of marathons was pushed to find another race due to the cancellation of New York.  I found Richmond and was surprisingly spoiled.  I wasn’t just a number and a dollar sign running around the course.  I felt that I got so much more “bang for my buck” in Richmond than I ever did in New York.  The expo was first class.  The race shirt was awesome. The crowd support was surprisingly constant throughout the entire race. I’m telling you right now, I hope races like Richmond see increase exposure and that those at the NYRR start taking notice that they can’t continue think that they have a monopoly on the fall marathon event.  I know in the future when picking my marathons I’ll be looking for the overall experience that gives me the most for my money. New York is not even in the conversation for the title of best bang for your buck.

The course in Richmond was challenging.  I had been told by my #RunChat partner David, who’s family was kind enough to let me crash at his place this weekend, that the course was flat.  Sure.  Epic lie.  The course had rolling hills that taxed your legs throughout the 26.2 miles.  The Lee Bridge is a serious climb just before the 19 mile mark which mocks runners trying to stay on pace.  I kept hearing that the last mile of the race was downhill, which sounded awesome to me before the race.  As I made my way to the finish I noticed that this was not a gentle downhill but a severe and fast drop-off.  At this point of the race with my legs ripping I am surprised my quads didn’t laugh at me forcing my body to barrel roll to the finish.  I crossed the finish line upright accomplishing the goal I had this marathon season.  That goal? To train for my 5th marathon, run my 5th marathon and enjoy it without the pressure of time goal, pacing or anything else.  I can say that I absolutely enjoyed the Richmond marathon.

There is one thing the Richmond organizers need to work on and that is bag pick-up.  The lines were long, the UPS trucks were too far away and they were in the only shaded location in Richmond.  I was on line freezing waiting over 35 minutes for my bag.  The system for finding said bag? “What does it look like”….. Don’t worry Richmond, the New York City marathon has the same issues, I’m sure you will work it out before they do.

Post race David and I met a bunch of #RunChat followers.  We had a great time talking about the race, commiserating over the marathon pain and enjoying the after party in Richmond.  Overall it was a great day, an awesome weekend and a marathon that I would highly recommend.

Have you run the Richmond half or full marathon?  What do you think of it? Do you think the major city marathons are too cost prohibitive? What other mid-major marathons should we all be running?

- Scott


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