Fall 2003 Marathon Roundup
by MarathonGuide.com Staff
So, you were planning to run a marathon this Fall, say October or November. You thought you'd run New York or Marine, but didn't get into through the lottery. So you decided you'd run the Chicago Marathon - but in a surprise to many of us, it reached its limit and closed registration.
So, what to do? Well, we all know the mega-marathons, but there are many, many great marathons in the USA (and Canada) to choose from. So, if you haven't picked your Fall marathon yet and/or you got closed out of one because you didn't make it in through the lottery or missed the registration window, here are some great marathons to choose from.
Some marathons close early...
These marathons are already closed: The New York City Marathon andMarine Corps Marathon offered lottery systems but those choices are done. The St. George Marathon and Twin Cities Marathon closed their registration early as usual. And this year for the first time and in a surprise to many (including MarathonGuide.com staff), the Chicago Marathon closed seven weeks early when it met its cap of 40,000 registrants - a record!
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 or Chicago Marathon if you're willing to raise money for charity. You can run the Marine Corps Marathon by joining a charity team such as St. Jude Runners, who will provide entry to the MCM with a commitment to raise $1,000 to combat childhood cancer). If you still want to run the Chicago Marathon, you can try some of the charities listed on the charity page on the Chicago Marathon website, but there aren't many spots available (if any).
But don't fret, we're sure you'll enjoy any of the marathons listed below - they are some of the best available - and you can still register for them!
Great Fall Marathon Choices:
There are plenty of alternative races to choose from - hundreds in fact - but it's hard to decide which marathon to choose. Below we've listed some of the most recommended Fall Marathons, based on MarathonGuide.com staff experience and the experiences of MarathonGuide.com visitors....
If you got locked out of the Twin Cities Marathon or Chicago Marathon, here are some other midwest marathons to look at:
Mediacom Des Moines Marathon (& MarathonGuide.com Half-Marathon) - Des Moines, IA - October 5 2003
Yes, we're a sponsor, but we don't need to be biased to recommend this marathon. A major success in its inaugural year, the Des Moines Marathon garnered the highest ratings for course beauty of any of the urban marathons listed on this page and also garnered strong praise for its fans. With over 1,000 marathon finishers (plus another 600 half-marathoners) in its inaugural year and this year's registration running nearly 100% above last year's - the Des Moines Marathon is turning into a Fall classic. Great midwest hospitality, one of the most beautiful urban courses, a fast course and runner-centric race organizers make this a great choice for your Fall marathon. We'll be there.
Detroit Free Press Marathon (& Relay, 5K) - Detroit, MI - October 5, 2003
We don't often think of Detroit as a destination, but the Detroit Free Press Marathon has had a major following for the last twenty-five years. The marathon starts next to Tigers Stadium, crosses into Canada before returning to end at the 50-yard line of Ford Field (home of the Detorit Lions), creating an exciting course.
Columbus Marathon - Columbus, OH - October 19, 2003
Another flat/fast midwest marathon, the Columbus Marathon features a course that is family/spectator friendly by passing the start/finish area at miles 10 and 13.5 allowing spectators to cheer on their favorite runners multiple times without needing to move far. The race gets especially high marks for the quality of its fans and the bands on the course.
If you got locked out of the New York City Marathon, look at these New England alternatives:
Mount Desert Island Marathon - Bar Harbor, ME - October 20 2002
Rated the most beautiful course of any on this page by MarathonGuide.com visitors and ranked as the most beautiful marathon in the USA by ecoMarathon, we probably don't need to repeat that this is a beautiful course. Located around the Acadia National Park (the easternmost point in the U.S. on a rugged Atlantic island), the 26.2 mile island passes by mountains, lakes, seacoast, and forests sported the Autumn foliage. The course has been dubbed "one tough mother" by race founder Gary Allen, so this is not a PR course - but the beauty of the area will definitely make up for the difficulty of the course.
Cerrone Ocean State Marathon (& Half-Marathon) - Providence, RI - October 12, 2003
The fastest Fall Marathon in New England, with winning times that rank among the top fifteen for men or women in the USA, the Ocean State Marathon has a strong history of providing a quality race for runners. The marathon runs through Rhode Island's Capital, Providence, which has been dubbed the "Renaissance City." The Ocean State Marathon offers a fast course that also scores high for scenery and organization.
United Technologies Hartford Marathon (& Half-Marathon & 5K) - Hartford, CT - October 11, 2003
The Hartford Marathon will be celebrating its tenth running in 2003. The race makes the list based on achieving ranks from MarathonGuide.com visitors as being one of the best organized marathons in the country. Not quite as fast as the Ocean State Marathon, this marathon in Connecticut's capital runs on the same weekend as that other marathon in Rhode Island's Capital both competing for the title of New England's most important Fall marathon. Choose the capital of your choice, or run both: Hartford on Saturday, Ocean State on Sunday...
Steamtown Marathon - Scranton, PA - October 12, 2003
One of the best organized marathons we've run... A point-to-point course that loses 950 feet of elevation from the start to the finish of the course, providing an opportunity for a fast time - but watch out for the big uphills at mile 23 and 26! Run along a scenic country road, there aren't many houses, but it seems that every occupant is out on the course, providing strong support. Massages for all with no wait at the finish line - we like that.
Montgomery County Marathon in The Parks - Montgomery County, MD - November 9, 2003
Now in its fourth year, the MMCMiTP is a beautiful marathon run exclusively through parkland in Maryland (hence the name). The race caters to runners with amenities such as two clif shot stations and easy packet pickup. Given that the race is predominantly on bike paths through parks, expect to see a lot of trees and not as many fans as some might like - but this course and organization get top marks. Runners do caution that the course doesn't feel as flat as the elevation charts make one believe.
SunTrust Richmond Marathon (& nTelos 8K) - Richmond, VA - November 15, 2003
Billed by organizers as the "Friendliest Marathon" - MarathonGuide.com visitors do give this race high marks for their attitude towards runners and desire to create a great marathon. With 2,500 finishers, this is a major race and has been around for 26 years - so they know what they're doing.
St. Jude Memphis Marathon - Memphis, TN - December 6 2003
The Memphis Marathon was revived last year and proved a hit with runners. This is a late fall marathon (early December), so it's not too late to start training now! Memphis is the "Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll", and the marathon provides a weekend of music, history, food, arts, and, of course, the race. The marathon is sponsored by and supports the work at St. Jude's Children's Hospital fighting childhood cancers - run for a good cause.
California International Marathon (& Relay) - Sacramento, CA
The most highly rated California Marathon and a classic now in its 21st year. A gradually downhill course with rolling hills. This is a fast course and well organized.
Royal Victoria Marathon (& Half-Marathon, Relay, 8K) - Vancouver Island, BC, Canada - October 12, 2003
A Canadian classic (now in its 24th year) and the favorite Canadian Marathon of MarathonGuide.com visitors - a beautiful course that runs by the ocean and through the beautiful town of Victoria.
Long Beach International Marathon - Long Beach, CA - Octboer 12, 2003
Since management changed in 2001, the Long Beach Marathon has improved to become a runners favorite in southern California. Scenic course and good management.
Saddleback Mountain Trail Marathon
The smallest marathon on this page (with approximately 100 finishers) and the only trail marathon listed here, we had to mention the Saddleback Mountain Trail Marathon because everyone loves this course. Scenic, but really, really tough. If you're fit, up for an adventure and don't care about a lot of people, here's a challenge that's worth considering.
Too soon to train for:
The list above focuses on marathons in the October to early December range. Besides those, there are many great September marathons as well. These races are coming up soon, but if you're still looking for a September marathon, here are a few to consider:
Top of Utah Marathon Logan, UT - September 20, 2003
Air Force Marathon - Dayton, OH - September 20, 2003
Queen City Marathon - Regina, SK, Canada - September 21, 2003
Boulder Backroads Marathon - Boulder, CO - September 28, 2003
Adirondack Marathon - Schroon Lake, NY - September 28, 2003
Quad Cities Marathon - Moline, IL - September 28, 2003
Fox Cities Marathon - Appleton, WI - September 28, 2003
Clarence Demar Marathon - Keene, NH - September 28, 2003
Next on the List:
There are many other marathons that should be mentioned, but we couldn't write about all of them here. If none of the races above suit your fancy, why not take a look at these that were next on our list to write about - they're all superb:
Maine Marathon Portland, ME - October 5, 2003
Portland Marathon - Portland, OR - October 5, 2003
Lake Tahoe Marathon - Tahoe, CA/NV - October 11, 2003
Whistlestop Marathon - Ashland, WI - October 11, 2003
Baltimore Marathon - Baltimore, MD - October 18, 2003
Chesapeake Bay Bridge Marathon Virginia Beach, VA - October 19, 2003
Cape Cod Marathon - Falmouth, MA - October 26, 2003
Santa Clarita Marathon - Santa Clarita, CA - November 2, 2003
Seattle Marathon - Seattle, WA - November 30, 2003
Good luck with whichever marathon you choose. And, of course, read all about these and more through the comments about the races on the MarathonGuide.com race calendar and race search.