Missy's Top Ten Favorite Races
10. Indianapolis Half Marathon, Indianapolis, IN
This race is run in the Spring on a flat course that includes two miles on the Indianapolis Speedway. The course has PR potential, but the weather is usually a problem as the race has a late morning start.
9. Autism Ribbon Run 5K, Raleigh, NC
The course for this race is one of several variations for downtown Raleigh races and is run in October. A quick drive of the course would not suggest PR potential but this course has turned in some FAST times. The post-race activities are super with Ben & Jerry’s serving ice cream to all!
8. River City 5K, Danville, VA
Another fast course! This race is Missy’s favorite small-town race! The race is scheduled to coincide with the town’s Fall festival and one year had Smashin’ Pumpkins as the headliner band.
7. Great Race 10K, Pittsburgh, PA
Run in September, Great Race draws a huge crowd for the point-to-point course. The finish is downtown with a festival atmosphere. The race has struggled over the past few years and was actually cancelled one year.
6. Old Reliable Run 10K, Raleigh, NC
This is a November race that was traditionally run on a Sunday afternoon as downtown churches let out. The race draws a huge crowd even though it has been moved to a Saturday morning start. The first three miles can draw a 5K PR, but from mile 3.5 to 4.5, it’s a steady uphill. A turn-around at the NC State University Bell Tower, and a little over a half mile of slight downhill to the finish line!
5. Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K, Albany, NY
This race is HUGE! On the first Saturday in June, over 3,000 women line up for this race through a beautiful park in downtown Albany. The race was traditionally the US Women’s National Championship but has become an international event. The course is average, with lots of turns, but the crowds and the competition usually encourage a good performance.
4. Umstead Endurance Run 50 Mile and 100 Mile, Raleigh, NC
The race is run in the early Spring and is contained completely within Umstead Park, a state forest preserve. The trail race runs mostly on well-groomed dirt fire roads through the forest with multiple loops of a 12.5 mile circuit. The criterium-like course allows runners to complete an ultra without having to coordinate extensive crew support. The race director, Blake Norwood, is top-notch!
3. Vermont City Marathon, Burlington, VT
This race is run on Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. The weather is usually great, but it can be warm on occasion. The course is fair without too many hills. There are some small hills in the first half and there is one big hill at about mile 15. The rest of the course is flat to down, but there are lots and lots of turns. If there was a way to eliminate a significant number of sharp turns in and out of neighborhoods, this would be a PR course for sure. The race staff is superb, especially Zeke Zuker, the elite athlete coordinator. Expect to be treated like a star!
2. Philadelphia Marathon, Philadelphia, PA
This race is just fantastic! It’s the right size and the course is great (only one hill at mile 10 and very few turns). The race is run in November when the weather is almost always perfect. It’s easy to get to the race from anywhere in the US and all the hotels offer free shuttle service to the start line (most are in walking distance anyway).
1. Shamrock Marathon, Virginia Beach, VA
The course has been changed on occasion, but the general layout is flat and fast with very few turns. On years that the boardwalk stretch had to be eliminated, PRs abounded – the race staff took notice and it seems that they have permanently abandoned the one to two miles of running on the boardwalk! The best option for where to stay is one of the many B&Bs in the beach area because the price is about the same, the walk to the start is about the same, but the accommodations are so much more conducive to a good race!