International Race Series: Choosing a Race

I am about to run a marathon on my 5th continent. Tackling all 7 continents, or even just running one international marathon, is becoming more popular. I've learned quite a bit along the way about how to successfully and enjoyably run an international race.  So, I've decided to start an international race series to share this hard earned wisdom with you all.



Today we are going to tackle how to chose a race.

I would first consider what is is most important to you- running a particular race or running a race that fits into your current circumstances (calendar/budget/vacation time, etc)?

If you have a dream race, then the decision is easy. For example, for Antarctica I only had 1 choice. I picked the race first and then planned around that. For the rest, I've chosen based on the timing of the race, the amount of vacation time I have, and cost. I try to find a race that fits into my life at any given time.

When do you like to train? I hate training in the heat, so I try to run late winter/early spring marathons so I can train during the cooler months. When do you like to travel? I like to get the heck out of Maine in the winter and stay here and enjoy the summer. So again, late winter/early spring is my ideal time for an international race.

How much vacation time do you have? Some years, I want to take as little time as possible. In those years, I tackled the continents closest to me. Other years, I've saved up all year so I can take a long vacation. In those years I try to chose a destination that is farther from home, or where I want to spend more time after the race.

if you only have 4 days off- you don't want to pick as destination that requires 2 days of travel!

How much money are you willing to spend? Where are there travel deals? I travel a lot for my job so I am lucky to use frequent flier miles for most of my trips. Once I have figured out roughly when I want to travel and the general continent I want to visit, I spend some time on-line. I look to see where there are current promotions. I see when and where I go for the least amount of miles/money.

Then, once I roughly know when I want to go and were I want go, I use this calender to see what races might be available.

Once I find some races that meet my criteria, I do some research on each race. I look at the race's website. Is there an English version? Is the website helpful and well organized? The race website is often an indicator of how well organized and international entrant friendly the race will be as a whole.

I also read race reviews. I use the 2 sites below the most often. I also do a general Google search to look for bloggers who have posted race reviews.
Marathon Guide.com
Runner's World Races

Spending time to do your research in order to find a race that meets exactly what you are looking for is so worth it. You spend a lot of time, money, and effort training for a race and then travelling to a race, so it is important to find something that will be worth it!





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