Back in September 2012, I was trying to get Platinum AA status after attaining Gold. I was also in the middle of running two marathons in two weeks to register for Marathon Maniacs. I was also planning on running a marathon in all 50 states so I decided to see which mileage runs i can do to get status and run a marathon, hence the theme of my blog,
Here is a quick intro to that. This posts focuses on finding the mileage runs.
My post will devote towards the other half of the equation. Just finding a marathon with the correct dates isn’t enough. I almost couldn’t run Hartford Marathon as i realized last minute that I had to pick up my packet the day before the race. Luckily, they also had an unadvertised option to pick up your packet the day of the race for a $20 fee.
Preparations for a Mileage Run Marathon
Some mileage runs are a few months in the future so you can pick an appropriate marathon and train for it. However, some can be just a few weeks or a month in the future, so there is very little time to train for it. You will need to be in good condition during a certain time period you are looking for these MR marathons. There are a ton of marathons in the spring and fall because of the weather so you can focus your search for during those months and start your training in preparation for a marathon in that time period. However, MRs can happen at any time so you can’t necessarily guarantee when they are. It pays to be prepared so you can book one at a moments notice. With less preparation and time to train, make sure to re-calibrate your expectations for your finishing time as it may be much lower than you expect.
As you will be gone for a day or two, you won’t need to pack a lot, just enough during your run, a change of clothes and some food for the morning of the race. I wouldn’t recommend checking anything in as it may get lost and it’s just not worth the risk.
Marathons for a Mileage Run Marathon
I am writing this post for those who can’t just take a day off so its focused on potentially flying late Friday or anytime Saturday and be back home by Monday morning. If you can take a day off, you have a lot more flexibility as flights early Friday can be booked for a decent price.
Generally, you want to look for Sunday marathons if packet pickup is required the day before, or Saturday if packet pickup is available for the day of the race. Most of the larger marathons, like Dallas, Hartford, etc, will require you to pick it up the day before as the logistics of setting up the packet pickup the day off is just too difficult. Luckily, most of the time they are on Sundays. I have compiled a list of such marathons below.
For smaller marathons, it is easier to organize. Even if they say no day of packet pickup, it doesn’t hurt to email the race coordinator. Mention that you are flying from across the country and would really like to run, despite the tough packet pickup schedule. They may make exceptions. Ask before booking anything.
Also, be careful in when packet pickup is and when it ends. Usually the cheapest weekend flights are Saturday night and Sunday morning, which would make running impossible. It is pretty tough to find a MR with the exact time you want. To fly and run a marathon on the weekend, timing is pretty important. Most of the time, you have a few choices for flights but usually only 1 or 2 would be the cheapest option. You will need to make a judgement call if the CPM is too high. As noted by RwM, the CPM could be a bit higher as you are running a marathon.
Flights for a MR Marathon
Based on the most restrictive packet pick-up policies of pickup being the day before, you would fly in on Saturday afternoon, pick up your number and run and fly home on Sunday.
Generally, there are more mileage runs in the fall as there is less travel overall. The best dates I believe to fly is the two weeks after Thanksgiving, but you will need to be flexible as the best dates are on weekdays. There are also a good number of deals all September and October. Early November is possible but there is some residual price inflation from the Thanksgiving holiday.
In terms of flights, there are two options, fly out Friday night in order to make it to your destination by late Friday or redeye to land Saturday morning. Living on the East coast makes it difficult as there are less late flights to take after work but I can make West Coast Saturday marathons work if i can catch a slightly earlier Friday flight. In the quick search among Saturday marathons, most of them start at 7:30am so unless its a short redeye flight, you probably land too late to run an early Saturday morning marathon without getting there Friday night.
As this is a mileage run, you want to minimize your cost in all areas. In most cases with these marathons, you will need to rent a car. If you need to spend the night, consider just sleeping in your car, couchsurfing, or a cheap AirBnB. Also consider the cost of the marathons as some are very expensive ($100+). Usually, the smaller marathons are cheaper but not as well organized.
List of Races
The list focuses on larger marathons and does not list smaller, local marathons, or marathons that are just running a bunch of laps around a building or field. After a bad experience with a very small local marathon, I will never do one again (<10 for the marathon field). Most of these races are certified, which means Boston Qualifier, but not all are so be careful if that is your intention. All of these races should qualify for Marathon Maniacs or 50 States Club.
There will be some races that are highlighted in red. These are packet pickups on a Friday afternoon or early evening, which would be difficult without taking a day off or living somewhere nearby. The list also shows when the packet pickups are so you can use this list to find a marathon when you find a good MR. Flights may be much more difficult to get for those Saturday marathons. Under Race Packet, if there is a time listed, that means that race day packet pickup is not available and that is the when packet pickup the day before closes.
Also is a list of airports that is close to the race and time/distance between the marathon and the airport. I listed the biggest or cheapest airport that I think you could make a MR out of. There are a few marathons that may have other cheaper airports so if you have a date, check all of the nearby marathons on the list. It may also be better to fly to a further airport and drive a longer way to the marathon, considering there is enough time to do so.
The double lists consists of two marathons that happen to be close by on consecutive days. There have been a few series of marathons focused on running in 2, 3 or 4 consecutive days in different states. They tend to be just out and back marathons in the middle of nowhere. I have added this collection at the end of the list to make sure you are aware of what you’re running. I would prefer to run two established marathons rather than a series of marathons dedicated to the 50 States or Marathon Maniacs club.
Mileage Run Double Marathons Fall-Winter 2013