Friday, May 1, 2009

Fall marathons are filling up fast

The big ones are, at least.

The Marine Corps Marathon (a.k.a. "The People's Marathon") reached its 30,000-runner capacity on April 17, 16 days after registration opened; it's being run on Sunday, Oct. 25. The Chicago Marathon -- which is two Sundays earlier, on Oct. 11 -- also recently hit its limit of 45,000 participants. And, of course, if you're interested in the New York City Marathon, take a number and get in line. (But do it fast -- applications are only being accepted through 11:59 p.m. June 1.)

What are runners who'd like to do a great-big fall marathon on the East Coast left with? Well, here are a couple of suggestions, courtesy of Runner's World's 2009 Marathon Guide:

  • A potentially good option for people who do best in the coldest temps is the Philadelphia Marathon, which is tucked way back on Nov. 22 (that's the Sunday before Thanksgiving). Runner's World said Philly has "the big-city excitement of New York City" and praised the route: "Philly's figure-eight course shows off two sides of the City of Brotherly Love. The first 10 miles take runners past major landmarks, including Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the art museum (whose steps were immortalized by Rocky). Later, runners pass through 8,700-acre Fairmount Park before cruising along the peaceful Schuylkill River."
  • The other backup to consider is the Richmond Marathon, which -- being barely a five-hour drive from Charlotte -- is the more driveable option. In calling it a good alternative to Marine Corps, Runner's World said: "Richmond puts on such a great event, most runners aren't disappointed by the change in plans. ... The day before the race, organizers offer free bus tours of the course, each led by an experienced Richmond marathoner. During the race, volunteers hand out wet washcloths so you can wipe away eye-stinging sweat. ... Miles 17 and 23 feature junk-food stations with gummy bears, cookies, and Coca-Cola."
Oh, and one last thing: If you're seeking a full big-race experience at half the distance, be aware that registration for the NYC Half Marathon opens at noon today. In previous years, runners could only get in via the lottery system; this year, it's first-come, first served, and the cap is 10,000 -- so hurry if you want in. For details, click here.