finding a half marathon
June 19, 2014 8:17 AM   Subscribe

I’ve lost my damn mind and want to run a half marathon. Can you help me find a race?

I’m a sorta new runner, and back on my feet after some injuries. After a 3 month break and back to running only 3 weeks, I’m pretty happy that I’m almost back to my old distances, and even improved my time some. I’m addicted - and want to work towards a half marathon maybe sometime in the late Fall or Winter.

I live in the DC area, but am willing to travel and make a trip out of it. I like running in cooler temps (35-45 degrees would be ideal), would kind of like to run a fun, medium-large race. Since I’m still new at this, I’d prefer a relatively flat course, though I’m now less afraid of hills than I used to be. Time wise, I average a fairly relaxed 5k in about 27.5-28 minutes.

Are there any good half marathons for first timers?
posted by raztaj to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you would like to make a trip of it, Rock and Roll Savannah is a fun and well put on race with quite a flat course. It starts cold (40-50 range last couple years) but the day will get to 70 and you can celebrate in Savannah after the finish. It's more large than medium-large but we've never had any hitches.
posted by ftm at 8:23 AM on June 19, 2014

The Richmond half is supposed to be stellar, but hilly. I've heard good things about Space Coast, if you're willing to risk warmer temperatures, too.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:23 AM on June 19, 2014

The Columbus (Half) Marathon is a nice course, and very flat and fast. And the weather in Columbus in October can be perfect- it can definitely be as cool as 35 at the start of the race, and is usually no more than 70 degrees.
posted by damayanti at 8:27 AM on June 19, 2014

Best answer: There's the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon, in Fredericksburg, VA.

The Semper Fred 5K, MCM 10K, Historic Half Marathon, and Marine Corps Marathon are all worth doing. The Semper Fred and Historic Half are in Fredericksburg, the others further north I think.
posted by jsturgill at 8:52 AM on June 19, 2014

Best answer: The Wilson Bridge half is in October, so a little cooler, along the river.
posted by troika at 8:59 AM on June 19, 2014

How do you feel about the Canadian west coast? The Victoria Half is pretty flat, and early October on Vancouver Island is both cool and lovely.
posted by sillymama at 9:00 AM on June 19, 2014

All the Rock n' Roll half marathons would work for you -- they aim for reasonable temperatures, reasonably flat courses, and a lot of fun on the way, plus are awesomely well supported. Note that they have events overseas as well as all over the U.S., and that they will be launching an inaugural Vancouver, B.C. half marathon event this fall, in October.

Also, it is incredibly inspiring and worthwhile to sign up with Team in Training to get set for your first half marathon -- they raise money to fight blood cancers. That's how I did my first -- and likely only -- marathon, and how I ran my first half (as part of training for the marathon.)
posted by bearwife at 9:05 AM on June 19, 2014

The Key West Half Marathon is extremely flat, and in January.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:18 AM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you don't mind travelling to Toronto, the Scotia Toronto Marathon & Half-Marathon is fast and flat. This year it's on October 19th. I ran the full last year and the temperature was perfect - around 6-10 Celsius throughout the race. It is a large race but lots of fun. The full marathon route has some boring parts, but the half route is pretty good, with lots of support and music along the route.
posted by barnoley at 9:35 AM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Running in the USA is a good resource for finding races. As to a specific one, well, I'm running a half in mid-September that goes around Flushing meadows in Queens and looks nice for a beginner (flat!) but it might be a little early on your timeline (and a little warm).
posted by gaspode at 9:50 AM on June 19, 2014

The Jazz Half in New Orleans is pretty great, but one year when I ran it, it was cool, and one year, it was warm. But New Orleans is super flat, so maybe the Rock and Roll or this new race later in November (or maybe not - it goes over the Mississippi River Bridge.)
posted by pyjammy at 11:16 AM on June 19, 2014

You don't have to go far. The Baltimore Half is in late October, is big but not terribly big, is fairly flat and a lot of fun, and (because the company is based there) the shirts are Under Armour. Win-win-win-win!
posted by psoas at 11:34 AM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, yes, the Baltimore half is a lot of fun. I'm thinking about that one myself. (meetup!)
posted by gaspode at 12:07 PM on June 19, 2014

The Richmond half is supposed to be stellar, but hilly.
I may be biased, because I'm based in Richmond, but I think the Richmond race is an excellent one for your first. Crowd support is extraordinary and the race is very well organized and the temps are usually about what you are seeking. The elevation map is actually nearly flat. There are some hills around miles 6-7 in the park, but they are far less than 50 feet total and there is a massive downhill finish.
posted by Lame_username at 12:45 PM on June 19, 2014

Best answer: I'm going to give you some semi-contradictory advice: do a half marathon at home (near DC) first, or at least a big (e.g. large field) 10K that is local. Destination half marathons/marathons usually have large fields, and in turn, complicated logistics. By large field, I mean > 10,000 runners, and by complicated logistics, I mean dealing with public transit or shuttles because you can't drive/park near the start; corrals and a staggered start; checking race bags; no race day number pick-up. They all follow a pattern, but if you've never done a (large field) race before, you'll add a lot more stress to your experience on top of spending a bunch of money to travel to a race. If you are going to travel *and* it is your first race, the smaller (in terms of number of runners), the better.
posted by kovacs at 8:31 PM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions! Doing a big, local race first makes sense, to get better acquainted with the logistics of it all. I signed up for the Marine Corps 10k this October, so that should be a good lead-in to a big half marathon. I totally forgot about the Woodrow Wilson half (I do some of my regular runs on the bridge), but not sure if I'll be ready by early October. The Key West half in January might be my best bet timeline-wise, but these suggestions all give me something to think about, and hopefully sign up for one soon. Thanks, guys!
posted by raztaj at 9:09 AM on June 23, 2014

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