How Do You Choose Your Races?

Proximity. I'm lucky in that I live in Lakeview, a large neighborhood in Chicago named for its proximity to the lake front. I can't actually see the lake from where I live, but I'm just under a mile from the lake path. Races are often held slightly to the north of me at Montrose Harbor, and to the south in Lincoln Park, just 2-3 miles away, which for me is a perfect distance for warm-up and cool-down. I prefer this than to get up an extra hour or two earlier to have to drive to the suburbs. It can be hard to loosen up after driving for an hour or more, which is why it can help to choose the closest races. Many people actually like to use races as an excuse to travel and sightsee in other cities, and even other countries.

Favorite Charities. I've been pretty loyal to running races held by PAWS, a no-kill non-profit animal shelter, and the Lincoln Park Zoo. There's of course no end to worthy causes, and most races make sure at least one is a beneficiary.

Course. A particularly scenic course can be a good reason to sign up. A lot of races are held in downtown Chicago. Chicago is a good lookin' city, races like the Shamrock Shuffle 8K draws so many people it's one of the top 10 biggest races in the country. Having workedi in the Loop for over 20 years, I personally prefer the lakefront and the option to run on the soft running path over concrete.

Season. I used to peak specifically for the Turkey Trot every year, because by then my allergies are usually cleared up and I make a big jump in improvement in my performance since I can breathe better. The weather is often pretty ideal for running, though one year I recall there was snow and 0 degree windchill.

Let us know what criteria you use to choose your races, or simply tell us about some of your favorite races!

Tony has been a runner for over three decades, competing in cross country and track in high school and college, and road races for various clubs. He's served as team captain for several Corporate Challenge teams at YMCA of the USA, and has informally coached many friends over the years.

Tags: This Week in Runners, Y, YMCA, Running, choosing races

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