Fall 2002 Marathon Roundup
by Erin Kandel
It's tough to get into some marathons.
Some marathons close early...
As each fall season rolls around, it becomes more and more difficult to get into some high-profile marathons, and some races seem to fill to the brim before you can say: "sign me up." The New York City Marathon recently announced the results of their 2002 lottery drawing, and tens of thousands of hopefuls were shut out. Registration for the Twin Cities Marathon closed in record time this year, and those who weren't quick to commit were left out. The ever-popular Marine Corps Marathon implemented a more effective lottery system this year, but still disappointed many.
If your mind was set on one of these big fall marathons, you're out of luck, although you can still secure a place in the Marine Corps Marathon by joining a charity team and committing to raise money for a worthy cause (one of our favorite charity teams is St. Jude Runners, who will provide entry to the MCM with a commitment to raise $1,000 to combat childhood cancer).
Interesting Fall Marathon Choices:
There are plenty of alternative races to choose from - hundreds in fact - but it's hard to decide which one to choose. Below we've listed a number of interesting fall marathons - mostly inaugural races and also a few that are situated in areas of particular beauty... Keep this list handy and consider these for your fall racing.
We don't really need to tell you about Chicago, but if you're looking to run with tens of thousands of runners and got shut out of the other big races, then Chicago is your choice. This year will be the 25th annual race and will one of the largest fields of marathoners in the country - approximately 30,000. Along with an urban course that winds through the city's scenic and historic districts, this race is famous for the world records that have been set on its course.
But, if the thought of running with 30,000 other competitors seems a bit overwhelming, here are some additional recommendations of new and/or unique races coming up this fall...
-Des Moines Marathon (& Half-Marathon) - October 6th 2002 - Des Moines, IA
Set in America's heartland, Des Moines "ain't no cornfield" and this marathon has set out to prove that fact to a couple of thousand runners who are expected to show up for this inaugural race. A Boston qualifier in the relatively flat Midwest, this race promises to get out thousands of enthusiastic fans, and festive race week activities, making this a worthy alternative to Twin Cities or Chicago. In addition to the race, organizers celebrate Des Moines's friendly character and rich variety of visitor attractions, culture, shopping, and restaurants in this State Capital that offer fun for the whole family. If you're looking for a good, flat marathon with good, Midwestern hospitality - add this one to your calendar.
-Durango Marathon (& Relay & 5K) - October 13, 2002 - Durango, CO
Formerly a mining town that has become an outdoor mecca, Durango offers its inaugural race this year. Runners will wind their way through the Animas Valley, surrounded by mountain views and red cliffs on a course that has been designed to be runner friendly, with no "killer hills", according to race organizers. Organizers promise the marathon celebration will last all weekend with a marathon expo, pasta dinner, group trail runs and hikes, a two-person marathon relay, and a post-marathon block party.
-Mount Desert Island Marathon - October 20 2002 - Bar Harbor, ME
Already dubbed the "Big Sur of the East" by local runners, this inaugural marathon hopes to test and exhilarate its competitors. Located around the beautiful Acadia National Park (the easternmost point in the U.S. on a rugged Atlantic island), the 26.2 mile island course traces a sanctuary of mountains, lakes, seacoast, and forestry canopied in a blaze of fall foliage that make the difficult terrain a worthwhile challenge. During their stay, visitors can tour the quaint island villages, hike on miles of outdoor trails, or feast on world-famous Maine lobster in the scenic Southwest Harbor.
-Trigon Chesapeake Bay Bridge Marathon - October 20, 2002 - Virginia Beach, VA
Sign up for this inaugural marathon and you will be among the first to ever run across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Participants will run 14.5 miles of the 26.2 marathon distance over and under the magnificent waters of the Chesapeake Bay, including running through 2 tunnels, and across 4 man-made islands. Besides the uniquely scenic course, organizers have put together a celebrity relay team, and what promises to be a rockin' post-race party in Virginia Beach. The race is being directed by Dave McGillivray, who also directs the Boston Marathon, so organization is sure to be topnotch. All proceeds from the race will go to the American Heart Association. No significant hills to worry about here, but if the winds on the Chesapeake start blowing in the wrong direction - look out!
-Grand Canyon Marathon (& Half-Marathon) - October 20 2002 - Grand Canyon, AZ
A unique way to experience one of the "Seven Wonders of the World," this inaugural marathon, run along the rim of the Grand Canyon, promises breathtaking views and spectacular Southwestern scenery on a generally flat but challenging course. Runners will race along the rim of the Grand Canyon, overlooking sheer drop offs, with elevations ranging between 4,612 and 5,084 feet. The race will be taking place at a relatively high altitude, and there is limited housing accommodation near the canyon, so make sure you are well trained, and make you plan early if you are putting the Grand Canyon Marathon on your calendar.
-Casino Niagara Marathon (& Half-Marathon & Inline Skate Marathon) - October 27, 2002 - Niagara Falls, Ontario
Considered a flat and fast run, this Boston qualifier is the only race that starts in one country and ends in another. Beginning in upstate New York, the course winds through city streets, crosses the Peace Bridge to Canada, and parallels the Niagara Parkway. While the sights along the route are pleasantly scenic, the finish is absolutely breathtaking, ending on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls in what race organizers call "the most famous finish line in the world." In addition to the marathon, Niagara will also be hosting the AIMS conference this year, drawing a host of race directors and foreigners to an already eclectic field of runners. Besides the marathon, there will also be and an inline skate marathon (if you're looking for something different).
-City of Trees Marathon - November 3rd 2002 - Boise, ID
An inaugural Boston qualifier, this loop course takes runners through some of the Idaho capital's most beautiful and historic neighborhoods, scenic parks, and rural country roads. Dozens of local entertainers - from school marching bands to dance companies to club bands - will be set up along the course to inspire runners to the finish line, set in Boise's downtown region with the majestic capitol building in full view. Small and quaint, this will be an interesting choice if you are looking for a marathon in the Northwest.
-St. Jude Memphis Marathon - December 7th 2002 - Memphis, TN
The Memphis Marathon is back. Promising better organization, this year it will be supporting a worthy cause. With its exciting course guiding runners through the "Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll", this marathon guarantees a weekend of music, history, food, and arts, along with plenty of enthusiastic Memphis locals to cheer runners on. In addition to their race festivities and the around-town excitement, each race entry supports the life-saving work of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the world-renowned center dedicated to fighting pediatric cancers.
And Thinking Ahead to 2003....
To date we know of two inaugural marathons planned for 2003 - but we're sure there will be more announced. For now, add these to your calendar and consider them for 2003 if you're looking to notch a new race...
-Miami Tropical Marathon - February 2, 2003 - Miami, FL
After years of trying, it looks like Miami will actually have a marathon next year. A major tourist destination and a major US city, this race will give runners an interesting tour of the major sites of the metropolitan area as it moves through South Beach, Coconut Grove, and downtown. We'll choose this race as a favorable alternative to the Disney World Marathon (which fills up each year anyway), so if you're looking for an excuse for a Florida trip in February, here it is. Of course, February is high season at the hotels...
-Kauai Marathon - March 16, 2003 - Kauai, HI
With the Maui Marathon moving from the spring to the fall, the Kauai Marathon has stepped in to fill the void for those seeking a spring Marathon in Hawaii. Set in one of the most beautiful of the Hawaiian Islands, this race will be half road and half trail on a challenging course. An eight-hour time limit should help ensure that runners of varying experience will be able to complete the course.