This month’s “Runners Tell All” link-up prompt is “your race bucket list.”
I could just point you to my Pinterest board where I keep track of those (except it’s not fully complete yet).
But the sake of actually having post content, I’ll talk a little about some of the specific races I’m hoping to do at some point in my lifetime.
The Big Marathons. New York, Chicago, Boston, Paris, London. (I think those are all the major “premiere” races they’ve got for the time being?) Marathon training takes such a commitment and so much planning, I don’t want to waste it on a little race. I want a major travel destination, experienced staff, and a highly-regarded course FILLED with enthusiastic spectators. I want my money’s worth, dammit. And if I keep running marathons, I will be spending a lot of money on them, because none of those babies are cheap. Not to mention the cost of travel (airfare, hotels, and the fact that I’ll want to treat myself to a vacation the week after the race).
Relays. I’m hoping to join a team for Ragnar SoCal next April (anyone need a female runner who will probably be good for 7:30 – 8:00 miles? Or know a team that does?). I also want to do Hood to Coast, the Kentucky Bourbon Chase, and there’s one that goes around Lake Tahoe.
Triple Crown. This is a San Diego challenge where you run the Carlsbad, La Jolla, and AFC Half Marathons in the same calendar year. Finishers get a big fancy medal after completing the AFC in August.
Really, though, my bucket list races are anything being run in the 2060s or even 2070s. As in, when I’m in my 70s and 80s (or even 90s). My life goal is to still be moving and active when I’m that old.
Now, I want to leave you with a couple of recommendations to add to your buckets lists:
Wharf to Wharf
Santa Cruz, end of July
This is known as “the best little road race in California.” It’s 6 miles, point to point, from the Santa Cruz boardwalk to Capitola. It is probably my favorite road race ever. It’s pretty big — something like 16,000 participants, and attracts some elite and sub-elite runners — but still feels like a local, small-town race. There are no frills — no expo, they mail the race numbers in advance, you get your cotton shirt (no tech tees) and swag AFTER finishing and making your way from the finish line down to the beach. Which means it’s cheap — $35 (!!!) to register (for 6 miles, not a 5K).
The course is mostly along the coast, with rolling hills (the last half mile or so is all downhill so you can just let it fly) and some of the best course entertainment ever — from the bagpipers to the Jimmy Buffett tribute band to the high school marching band playing pop hits to the locals sitting in their yards with sound systems (and, in some cases, hoses to cool off passing runner or beer for refreshment). The only negative I can think of is the “corrals” are self-seeded and a lot of people don’t seem know what “8:00 mile” means. And since Capitola is a cute but small little beach town, you might face long waits for brunch after the race. Pro tip: unless you’re going by yourself, bring two cars and leave one at the finish line. Drive back to Santa Cruz (without waiting for the shuttles) after the race and get something to eat there.
Seriously, though, if you ever have the chance, run this race. Registration opens in April and sells out within a couple days, so get on their mailing list and get a reminder to register.
Lake Tahoe 5K/10K/Half Marathon/Marathon/crazy distance challenges
Lake Tahoe, mid-October
Literally any event you could ever want to run/bike/swim/kayak/paddle is here. I’ve done the 10K twice, which is fantastic because you start at Emerald Bay, run down for 3 miles, and then run on flats for the last 3 miles. If you’re really hard-core, you can run one of their ultra options and do crazy things like run a double marathon, a full lap around the lake (72 miles), two laps around the lake, or three laps around the lake. By the way, most of those are in the middle of the night (read: cold as balls) and without any course support (or road closures). So I’d recommend sticking to the half or shorter, or even the single full marathon, which is run during the day with full support. But you know, whatever you’re into.
I shouldn’t even have to say how unbelievably gorgeous these courses are. And everything is run like a local/small-town race, and it’s freaking Lake Tahoe. Just do it.