My favorite distance is the marathon, followed by a ten-mile race, and then half marathon.  Below are some of my race reviews…

Marine Corps Marathon:  I ran this race 3 times (in 2004, 2006, and 2007).  This was also my first marathon.  I could run this race every year and never get sick of it.  The course is beautiful and winds through all of Washington, DC.  The crowd support is also good.  It’s usually the last Sunday in October which makes for perfect weather.  Even though there are 20,000+ runners, the Marines do an excellent job of keeping everything organized and orderly.  I’m kinda partial to this race since I lived in DC for 3 years after college and it’s where I began running.  I love reminiscing as I run along the course!

New York City Marathon:  I ran this in 2005.  A good race but not my favorite (I know this is blasphemousness to some of you)!  It’s the kind of race you do once for the experience and that’s that.  You cannot beat the crowd support with this one.  People are literally cheering for you the entire race.  I felt like a celebrity running the red carpet for 26.2 miles.  The course is deceptively tough; you run through all 5 boroughs which means running up bridges.  And there’s the Fifth Avenue hill at mile 23.  Be sure to do some hill work for this one.

Philadelphia Marathon:  I ran this in 2008.  Again, I’m partial since it’s my hometown race.  Great course, although it can get a little lonely when you leave Manayunk and head back to the Art Museum along Kelly Drive (around miles 22 to 25, when you need all the help you can get).  They also have a half marathon that they added a few years ago.  If I don’t do the marathon, I usually run the half each year.

Pocono Run for the Red Marathon:  I ran this in May 2010.  My least favorite marathon by far.  Very tough and hilly course.  Lots of rolling hills which really killed me by mile 19.  I have to take some of the blame; I didn’t do enough hill work for this marathon.  It’s a small race with very few spectators (again, I knew this) but I had no idea that spectators = volunteers who are handing out water!  If it wasn’t for them (they were awesome), there would have been no one on the course except for the runners!  At the end of the race you run through a residential neighborhood and I kept thinking that there has to be some spectators since we were running past houses but nope nothing!   There was also a lot of highway running that seemed to never end.  Consider yourself warned…

Steamtown Marathon:  I ran this in October 2010.  Super organized with lots of friendly and helpful volunteers.  Great scenic course too – first few miles are downhill (yes, downhill) and then flat for the middle miles and end with some hills during miles 23 to 26.  I didn’t want to make the same mistake I did with the Pocono Marathon (too little hill work) so I mimicked the marathon course with every long training run.  That paid off big time because I was ready for those hills at the end.  They also give a presentation at the expo explaining how to run the race; I highly suggest listening and heeding their advice if you ever run this marathon.  This race is all about banking effort in the beginning on the downhills so you have some gas in the tank for the last few uphill miles.  I will definitely be doing this race again.

New Jersey Marathon:  I ran this in May 2011.  Probably the flattest marathon I have ever (and will ever) run.  But definitely not the most scenic.  You do start and finish right at the beach and the first 13.1 aren’t so bad (running through neighborhoods).  The last 13.1 leave a lot to be desired.  Out and back and long stretches of black asphalt.  If you happen to have a sunny day (like I did), be careful of dehydration since there is little shade and the sun just beats on you.  Not a terrible marathon overall but I would never run the marathon again.  The half marathon?  Definitely.

Lehigh Valley Marathon:  I ran this in September 2011 and got my BQ here so it will always hold a special place in my heart!  Not a bad small marathon.  It’s a point-to-point course, running from Allentown to Easton.  It’s mostly flat but almost half the marathon is run on towpath.  It definitely helps to incorporate some trail running into your training.  Parts of the towpath are narrow and you’ll have to run single-file.  Spectators are few and far between due to the design of the course.  I would consider running this race again, mostly out of convenience (it’s not far from where I live).

Broad Street Run:  I do this race every year and love it.  It’s a Philly favorite and draws a huge crowd.  They made some improvements in recent years to deal with the overwhelming number of runners, including a wave start and capping the number of entrants.  The course is pancake flat and it always amazes me how fast those 10 miles fly by.  I always advise runners who are thinking of a half marathon to try Broad before committing to a half.  It will gives them a good idea of what to expect to expect and how to train.

Rock and Roll Philly Half Marathon:  Another race I do every year.  It used to be called the Philly Distance Run.  This was my first big race back in 2002 with TnT and started my obsession with running and racing.  Great course and great crowd support although I prefer the PDR version compared to the RnR version.  The PDR had this small, hometown feel even though you were running a major race and the RnR just feels so commercial.  But it won’t deter me from running it each year.

A great website I always consult when picking a marathon is marathonguide.com.  Not only can you find marathons all over the world, you can also read runners’ comments from year-to-year.


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