Why Not KC

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.   

Verdict: INVALID

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.

Verdict: Undecided

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?)

Verdict: INVALID

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.)

Verdict: INVALID

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.

Verdict: INVALID!

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.


About stillarunner

I used to run. Some days, I even ran fast. Then I got a job. And met a boy. And bought a house. And rescued a dog. And rescued another dog. And went back to school. And created human life. I might not run every day, or even every week. There’s a good possibility that I will never be fast again. But I’m still a runner.
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6 Responses to Why Not KC

  1. Megan says:

    I read a book by a guy who ran a marathon every week for a year, and one of his bits of advice was to be wary of any marathon that declares itself “scenic.” He’s found that those are the roughest, toughest ones there are…and at some point during a marathon, the scenery doesn’t much matter. Lol!

  2. Ryan says:

    Quad Cities Marathon is scenic. And it spans 2 states!

  3. Jesse says:

    I ran the KC marathon last year, and there definitely were some parts of the course that could easily be called “boring.” It wasn’t as hilly as I thought it would be, but I think I prepared for the worst.

    I’m sure there are more exciting/scenic/fun races out there, and there are definitely races with better crowd support, but considering I can sleep in my own bed the night before the race it’s not too bad at all.

  4. d.a.r. says:

    I am thinking about doing the half (depends on when my husband deploys…it could be really bad timing or really decent timing)! We will see 🙂

  5. I’ve volunteered at the KC marathon the past couple years working the packet pickup and once at the finish line. I’m pretty sure it is all run by either MARA or KC Sports Commision. Not sure why they screwed up in 2005 but they are the same ones that usually put on all the other big local races.
    As far as whether you run KC or not I can see a point either way. I would want to at least once run the marathon in the city I live but there are definately marathons out there that sound more fun.
    I didn’t know your first was San Diego Rock n’Roll. That was my first also. Good job.

  6. Pingback: Friday Links 2 | Runners Passion

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