A number of you asked after I posted my list of potential fall marathons why I was so negative about the KC marathon, here in my own metro area right smack in the middle of my ideal date range.
And to be honest? I don’t have a well-articulated answer to share. I think the best reason is the one I stated in that post: I don’t wanna. And I say this in as whiny a manner possible.
I recognize that my predisposition against a perfectly good marathon is probably completely unfair. It’s a culmination of perceptions, most of them likely unwarranted. In this post, I will try my best to give it an unbiased shot. Bear with me as I sort through my best excuses not to run this race.
1. “But it’s going to be hilllly!!”
Support: The elevation chart as provided by www.marathonguide.com:
Debunked: Hills are not the enemy. They work different muscle groups, breaking up the monotony of a twenty-six mile run. My half-marathon PR was at this year’s Rock the Parkway, which runs some of the same streets as the KC Marathon. Furthermore, on a day when I was “running for fun,” I thoroughly ENJOYED running Hospital Hill this year – and incidentally did so at BQ pace.
2. “But I hear the race is poorly managed.”
Support: This is based on hearing via word-of-mouth that the results were invalidated due to a course error a few years back. I honestly thought it may have been urban running legend, but some googling has confirmed that it indeed happened, in 2005. Every marathoner’s nightmare, particularly on a BQ attempt. Here’s the best link I could come up with: Cool Running article. The title sponsor, Waddell and Reed, is still sponsoring the event to this day.
Debunked: It was W&R’s first year sponsoring the event, and I’ve heard no other horror stories in the time that I’ve actually lived here. Perhaps there’s a 5-year statute of limitations on these kinds of generalizations.
3. “But Kansas City is boooring!”
Support: Here’s a link to the course map. KC, like many cities, has a number of unique neighborhoods throughout the city that are full of interesting residents and vibrant culture. The problem? This city is so incredibly spread out that the spaces between them create quite a void – particularly on foot. The first half hits the hot spots without too much delay; but once you swing past the Plaza on the back end, it’s a looong trot to get back downtown. On a street with a pretty poor reputation, I might add.
Debunked: Even the big marathons have lulls. My first marathon was San Diego Rock N Roll, which many people claim is awesome – a good portion of the second half of the race is run through boring residential neighborhoods. 26 miles is a lot to cover in ANY city – chances are, none of my fall racing options will be much more scenic than this one. (Come on – Des Moines? WICHITA?)
4. “But destination marathons are the best!”
Support: It’s fun to travel for marathons! You can visit new cities, getting the best possible foot tour in the process! You can visit family and friends! You can take a vacation!
Debunked: Travel has its downsides, expense being the kicker. Also on the list: eating all restaurant food; difficulty carrying out a pre-race routine; a long, sore trip back home after the race. Destination races have their place, but may not always be the best idea. Particularly when you have this idea of running Phoenix RNR in January. (Quick check: Registration still open! Good.)
5. “But it’s so smallll!”
Support: The race is pretty small. 1559 marathon finishers in 2009 (vs. 4488 in the half.) That long, desolate back stretch will feel even longer once the crowd disperses.
Debunked: After running – and loving – the Illinois Marathon this spring, I have developed a fondness for smaller races. They often have some great perks that are better enjoyed in a smaller crowd. And 1500 isn’t tiny. That was up 300 (or 25%!) from 2008, so the event is growing fairly rapidly. There must be a reason for it.
So, after debunking 4 of 5 negative perceptions – with the fifth up in the air – I find myself thinking, instead of “Why Not KC:” something that more closely resembles, “Why Not KC?”
Maybe I should just quit my whining and do it. There might be hope for me yet.