I am looking for a marathon within driving distance of Seattle
August 25, 2014 12:54 PM   Subscribe

I am planning on running a marathon sometime between spring 2015 and August 2016 with lots of flexibility in time frame. I need to choose a marathon and it must be ithin driving distance of Seattle. This will be my first marathon so I do want some support - I want a timing chip - and I want a photographer. I'm not sure what else I want in terms of crowds, etc. If you have experience with marathons in this area that you can share, please do.
posted by bq to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you can wait until early/mid-October, the Victoria Marathon is within driving distance (via the Coho ferry).
posted by Nevin at 1:18 PM on August 25, 2014

So wait, you're looking for a marathon somewhere in a 15-18 month timeframe. Most marathons repeat every year at about the same time of year, so if you look for this year's marathon schedule online, you'll find a bunch of ideas.

(e.g. Seattle Rock & Roll in June, Seattle Marathon at Thanksgiving, Portland marathon in October, etc.)

Just look for WA, OR, BC events here:

EDIT: perhaps easier:
posted by mvd at 1:19 PM on August 25, 2014

Vancouver (BC) Marathon count as driving distance? It's on May 3, 2015. Details here.
posted by urbanlenny at 1:35 PM on August 25, 2014

Response by poster: Hey guys, I know where to find a list of marathons - but I'm looking for perspectives on how to choose one and impressions of the local races and what support they offer and how well organized they are.
posted by bq at 1:51 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My (to date) only marathon was the Bellingham Bay marathon, and I can't recommend it enough.


* Point to Point. No loops, no repeats of any scenery
* Just beautiful. Starts at just after dawn on the Lummi reservation. They bus you out from downtown, and you wait in the community center there before starting - there was a brief performance of traditional music which I really enjoyed. After that the run hugs the bay for a good portion of it's length, and you get to see beautiful islands, sea views, farmland, and a little bit of nicely gravelled trail.
* Joins up with the 1/2 marathon for the last 8 miles or so. Having people running past me on less knackered legs really helped push me along - I even got a negative split on the first and second halves!
* The finisher shirts and medals are really nice!
* Bellingham itself is a fun little town, a good place to putter around for the day before the race.
* Timing was accurate!
* Photographers were good too. I didn't buy the photo of me looking devastated at the end, but they did about as good a job of capturing the wreckage as I could reasonably have expected.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:56 PM on August 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

Any major marathon is going to be chipped and they're almost all going to have a professional event photographer; you'll have to add some additional preferences to get it narrowed down :)

With that said, the Rock n' Roll marathons should be very well organized and supported.

posted by ftm at 1:57 PM on August 25, 2014

Define driving distance. Are you trying not to stay overnight anywhere?

If you're okay with a day's drive, I really enjoyed the Vancouver marathon. Its a nice course that shows you a lot of the city, spectators were enthusiastic and your first name is printed on your bib so the spectators can also be very specific, weather is usually very good for running that time of year, and my finisher shirt is still one of my very favorites.
posted by juliapangolin at 2:33 PM on August 25, 2014

Response by poster: Yes - I prefer not to stay overnight.
posted by bq at 2:49 PM on August 25, 2014

Hm. Without an overnight stay the night before, the two (Portland and Whidbey) I came in to recommend as mostly nearby won't work. That said...

Portland is the best marathon for a first timer, in my opinion. Really wonderful support the whole way. I really, really recommend you do this one if this is your first marathon. Scroll down here for description: http://www.runnersworld.com/races/new-year-new-you-1st-remember?page=single Portland is not super hilly, either.

I have run 10 marathons and Portland was my favorite. It is worth the drive and worth staying overnight for. Also, Powells bookstore. !!

If you really don't want to go anywhere, I haven't done the Seattle marathon in November in a very long time, but it was okay. And no overnight would be necessary. From what I hear, the Rock & Roll marathon in Seattle is a really good event, so maybe do that one.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 3:41 PM on August 25, 2014

Not sure if this ticks off your box for a long enough (or serious of enough?) marathon for your first-go, but you might want to consider:


My employer helped sponsor this in 2012 and I worked the event along with a few coworkers. It takes place every year near Halloween at Seward park in Seattle, so should be a fairly easy drive (possibly even accessible via public transit depending on your location in Seattle). It's only a day-long event, so there is no need to stay overnight. The event itself was very lighthearted and everyone had a great time - even the volunteers. Some people ran in full costume, some didn't -- it is/was the runners' decision. Friendly, dogs on short leashes are allowed. Free snacks/drinks were given to participants. There were people taking photos everywhere, so I don't think a lack of photo ops would be an issue. There was even a party afterwards, with a DJ, games, contests, vendors giving out samples/free swag, etc.

I have nothing but absolutely positive memories of RunScared and believe it would be a great first marathon.
posted by stubbehtail at 6:11 PM on August 25, 2014

Most times that I've done the Seattle marathon it's been cold and wet, because it happens pretty late in the year.

I've found the Portland marathon to be much more fun. It's very much worth spending the previous night in Portland. You can even take the train down from Seattle for not very much money.
posted by monotreme at 11:30 PM on August 25, 2014

I'm a little late to this, but could offer additional specific suggestions via PM if you're interested in trail running - there are lots of great trail races within a couple hours of Seattle and they include all the perks you're looking for, but trail running isn't for everyone. A couple examples:



posted by DuckGirl at 1:12 PM on September 4, 2014

Response by poster: A friend of mine lucked into a half-marathon registration for 'Beat the Blerch' in Carnation, WA last month. Apparently this involves birthday cake and nutella. It sounds like the most fun race ever. I am going to try, try, try to get into the 2015 marathon.
posted by bq at 1:44 PM on October 8, 2014

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