Sunday, January 30, 2011

Run a Race Where It's Potentially Warmer Than at Home

Chicago runners know what's up when the mercury dips below freezing--they head south. Sure, we'll still take in those training runs on the Lakefront Path and the city streets--trust me, I've seen plenty just in walking to and from the gym where I prefer to hide out from November to March (and even beyond). As for racing, we all know the way to keep up with that at the start of the year is to head south, and plenty of us--me excluded especially since I barely got myself out the door for Fleet Feet's lunar run last month--do just that. But the question is: what race can you run?

Have no fear, there are plenty of races--and cool places--to mark on the calendar before it's really time to return to running this spring, or keep your season going when others around you are hibernating. Check these out:
  • Walt Disney World Marathon. The 2011 race occurred at the beginning of January--you can find race results by clicking here--but you can mark your calendars now for next year's race. The 2012 edition runs January 5 through 8, complete with a 5K, kids fest, relay (new in 2012), marathon, half marathon, and Goofy Challenge where you run the half and full marathon races. Registration opens March 15.
  • Disney Princess Half Marathon. You don't have to wait until spring or 2012 to run on the Disney property, at least if you're female. With a new date and registration still open, you can head to Orlando at the end of February for this half marathon, 5K and kids races. But you have to hurry and not just because your training days are limited. This Feb. 25-27 race weekend is nearly sold out with the half marathon 96 percent full and the 5K at 75 percent full.
  • ING Miami Marathon. You'll have to wait until next year to add Will Smith's "Welcome to Miami" to your running playlist; runners just took over Miami this weekend (click here for marathon results and click here for half marathon results). Typically held the last weekend of January, south Florida definitely provides a welcome haven for those looking to escape cold weather and run a flat and fast course. And if you get a head start on 2012 registration, you can get a bargain too: A registration blitz begins Feb. 1 and runs through Feb. 8 where the first 200 registrants pay $27.50 (half) and $40 (full), the next 200 pay $33 (half) and $48 (full), and all others pay $38.50 (half) and $64 (full).
  • Houston Marathon and Half Marathon. It's safe to say that this race will be garnering a lot of attention next year when it hosts the U.S. Olympic Trials. It was already echoing that sentiment in 2011 when it hosted the USA Half Marathon Championships on Jan. 29, followed by the other races on Jan. 30 (click here to view results). The 2012 edition will be held Jan. 15, and it's a special one at that--the race will be run for the 40th time.
  • Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans. You don't have much time to make plans or start training, but if you've been keeping up with your running this winter, you might want to test your race skills in the Big Easy. With a race day of Feb. 13, it's not during Mardi Gras, but consider it a pre-party complete with a post-race concert performed by Bowling for Soup (remember 1985?). And if you and your mate want to run--maybe a little Valentine's Day surprise--but aren't ready for the distance, race organizers have just the thing: a two-person relay.
  • The Sedona Marathon. Known for its red-rock beauty, Sedona is a sight to marvel at even when you're not there to run 26.2 miles. But this Feb. 12, you can let this scenery carry you through the mental rough spots of the race while warm weather motivates you through the rest.
See? It's easy to escape that cold-weather clime when the weather sours. Even if it requires more planning for next year than taking action this year, that only means more time to scour for travel deals, get training and knock your PR out of the park. Nothing wrong with that, right? And these are just for starters. For more races to run, check out the marathon calendar at marathonguide.com. What races do you plan on running--or did you run--this winter?

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