Monday, March 12, 2012

Choosing a Racecation

Since the spring racing season is right around the corner, I have decided to start a short series of posts that are dedicated to the running phenomenon called "Racecations". I have previously written about properly packing for a racecation (here) and how to prepare for departure (here). Today I will be talking about how to choose a racecation.

A lot goes into choosing a racecation; location, race, hotel, travel, etc. It's important to take into consideration many variables before you drop the money on race registration.

First, make a list of places you would love to travel to and races you would like to run. The races and travel locations don't have to match up. From your list of places you would like to travel to, start to search online and see if there are any races that take place in that area and note the time of year. Double check registration for the race and note the day it opens, the price, etc. You don't want to plan a whole racecation then find out that the race is full (big/popular races seem to fill up fast).
For example I have always wanted to see the Redwoods. To run through them would be a highlight of a lifetime. The race, Avenue of the Giants, weaves through the park allowing you to run in the Redwoods. Avenue of the Giants takes place in May, so the next time my husband and I talk about traveling to see CA we will probably plan it around that particular race.
Once you have completed your list, start dividing races up based on the following categories: dream racecations, your must racecations, and your maybe racecations. In a separate column list your local races. You want to make sure races don't overlap, racecations are great but you want to make sure that you don't miss your favorite local race (those are the heartbeat of the running world!)

Here is a look what I created a few months ago. The races in gray are weekend racecations, meaning we wouldn't be staying more than two nights.

Second, sit down with your travel partner and have a real heart-to-heart about how much money you can afford to put towards a racecation. And how many racecations you want to take. Discuss the details, are you willing to sacrifice a few races that are weekend racecations to go on a larger/extended racecation? The discussion should also include talking about the races you have listed. Make sure that both people are willing to go to the destination, especially if your travel buddy isn't a runner.

Third, once a budget is decided start looking at how much each location is going to cost you. You can get a good estimated cost of your racecation by using the US Per Diem rates calculator.  Also do a quick airline check (if you are flying) by using search engines like Kayak or ChepOair. They provide overall results from all airlines. Once you have an idea of prices for each of your racecations, begin to narrow down your list by crossing off racecations that are out of your price range this year.

For example this is what I got when I did a cost breakdown for the Historic Half Marathon in Fredericksburg VA. Make sure that you take the total add a little extra for taxes.

Next, start to research the races a little more. Read blog race recaps, runner reviews, search for youtube videos and google images. Really get an idea of what the race vibe is like. For example, hubby and I ran WDW marathon weekend in January. Our next race after that was Hyannis MA. These races had two totally different vibes. Hyannis was serious, with runners focused and willing to take no prisoners. It was a BQ race after all. It was a beautiful course, but not a fun spirited run like Disney. If what you learn about the race doesn't excite you, it shouldn't be a race that you dedicate a vacation to.

After you decide on your final race choices look at the perks that come along with the race. Can you get discounted hotels? Do hotels provide shuttle to start and finish? Is there a pasta party? Are there exciting speakers at expo? Just different things that might make your vacation a little easier and more special. Also look into activities you want to do before or after the race. For example, we are running one of our racecations in the small town of Marquette MI. The race brings in less than 500 people. But the area is beautiful and we plan on going on a boat tour around their Picture Rocks National Park. Another example is we are taking a weekend racecation to DC. While there hubby and I will do the Segway tour of the capital the day after the race. It's a great way to rest the legs but keep active, and really get a chance to see the sites that we missed while running.

Once you take everything into consideration...CHOOSE! This is the hardest part of it all. I want to run all of them, but it just isn't feasible. If you have a hard time choosing, take some time off to think about it. After you do select your final racation

And finally, prepare! Start getting ready for your racecation. It will be a blast and less nerve wrecking if you don't go into the race worrying about how unprepared you are.

Be Inspired, Stay Motivated, Run Strong!

1 comment:

  1. Hey, just so you know, the Avenue of the Giants Marathon has a fall version too that travels the same course. It is called Humboldt Redwoods Marathon and is in October: :) You're welcome to crash here for that too, btw.