Thursday, March 12, 2009

Half the Distance, Twice the Fun

To get that race calendar started for 2009, you might want to consider a half marathon. In my opinion, it's not as daunting as a marathon (with that being said that means I have no explanation for why I've only raced one half marathon in my entire running career), is kinder on the muscles recovery-wise and is one of the fastest growing distances to race. And with training programs kicking off constantly, I figured I better start with this distance as we all dust off our running shoes with warmer weather hopefully on its way.

So with that being said, here's my rundown of half marathons around the Midwest to consider for spring. And don't forget they're also a great testing ground for running the marathon if you have your eyes set on completing a marathon...just think only double that distance. Wait on second thought, you might not want to do that, it could scare you out of running a marathon.
  • March Madness. This race held in Cary, Ill., every year is a popular race to kick off the season. Held on March 15, it's a small race and closes out as soon as it opens. One to keep in mind for a January registration in 2010.
  • Lincoln Memorial Half Marathon. The 13.1 miles of this race held April 4 run past the sites in Springfield, Ill., made famous by Abraham Lincoln. It's also one of the oldest half marathons in the country.
  • Badgerland Striders' South Shore Half Marathon. Head to Milwaukee on April 11 for this race that's so cost-effective at $10 you'd have a hard time passing this up even if you weren't 100 percent prepared. Or at least that's my reasoning.
  • Capital City Half Marathon. Columbus, Ohio lays claim to this race and this year is welcomes a new, warmer date of May 2.
  • North Shore Half Marathon. Held June 14 with organization recently taking over by local running shop Running Away Chicago, this race is a perennial favorite. This 30-year-old race has been closing out ahead of race day the past few years. And if you want hills, you'll find some in Highland Park, although not necessarily when your legs want to climb up them.
  • Palos Bank Southwest Half Marathon. 2008 marked the first year for this race and it's back on the calendar for May 3, 2009. And you'll be running in the company of running great Khalid Khannouchi.
  • Great Western Half Marathon. A smaller race in the western suburbs of Chicago, it happens to be held the same weekend as the Palos Half. And like the March Madness race, it closes as quickly as registration opens. Check with the Fox River Trail Runners for the registration opening for next year, it's typically in February.
  • Children's Advocacy Center Run for a Reason. This half marathon hits Hoffman Estates and the Sears Centre in June. However, there doesn't seem to be any 2009 race info out there yet.
Or if you're debating between running a half marathon and the full distance, you could opt to sign up for one of the many races that offer both options in a single event. Sometimes you can switch to the shorter distance if you realize on race weekend that you haven't trained enough and can't run the 26.2, but it depends on the rules of the race. But go crazy at these multiple distance events:
  • Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon. Run through the capital of country, Nashville, Tenn., on April 25.
  • Wisconsin Marathon. This new race on May 2 promises to be the "world's cheesiest" and not in that corny connotation we're used to. Since you'll be running in cheese country, the race pays homage to the dairy product with a special start corral for those donning cheeseheads, a cheese finisher's medal and polka bands playing on the course. And at roughly 60 minutes from Chicago in Kenosha, Wis., it's almost as good as staying home for a race.
  • Sunburst Races. Head to South Bend on June 6 for this weekend of racing. The route starts at the Hall of Fame and finishes on the University of Notre Dame campus.
  • Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. This marathon, with half marathon and 10K options on race day, hits the Rock & Roll city on May 17.
  • Rockford Marathon. Marathoning came to Rockford years ago, then disappeared and re-emerged in 2008. Mark May 17 for year two of the reincarnation that everyone praised last year.
  • Cellcom Green Bay Marathon. Held the same day as the Rockford race, this event series with a half marathon, relay and 5K provides a tour of Green Bay, including a run past Lambeau Field. Packer fan favorite!
  • Lake Geneva Marathon. Running of all distances including the rare 22-mile Euro cross-country event comes to Lake Geneva, Wis., on May 9. If you haven't been doing hill training, this could be a rude awakening--there are some challengers.
  • Madison Marathon. Whether you want the full marathon, a half or a quarter, Madison is the place to be May 24. It's also plugging its green efforts this year.
  • Minneapolis Marathon--new on the calendar for 2009--and held May 31--this race has a marathon and half marathon for those in or near the Twin Cities wanting a long distance race in the spring. And it's a great way to end May on a marathon high.
  • Stillwater Marathon--not to miss out on the competition south on I-35, Stillwater plans a race of its own right around the time of the Minneapolis race. Guess you can say that if you miss one, sign up for the other?
I created this list for a friend in December when he was getting a jump start on his 2009 race calendar and wanted to add more distance running to his repertoire. I can guarantee this list is in no way comprehensive so if you know of a half marathon to add, please let us know. That and I can use a few extra kicks in the butt to get me distance training as spring jumps closer. For more races check the race calendars at Active, SignMeUp, or A local resource like Chicago Athlete or Windy City Sports also comes in handy. Photo grabbed from tgbusill at flickr. Posted by Kate

1 comment:

  1. Great list! I didn't know there was a second marathon in Minneapolis now...



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