Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Don't knock the small races


Most of us love all the hoopla, glamour & glitz that go with a "big" event.

What's not to love? There's usually a fancy (tech) shirt, sometimes available in both men's and women's sizing. You're usually guaranteed a finisher medal. You will have your choice of not just water, but also Gatorade, at the aid stations. If it's a really big event, there may even be course support volunteers on bicycles, offering tissues, petroleum jelly or candy to the runners. There will usually be a larger-than-life expo to peruse, with lots of coveted running gear (some at discounted prices!) to add to your growing collection of race day necessities. Life is good!

But what about the "small" races? It's easy to snub the small races after one becomes a seasoned runner. Here are a few reasons to consider adding (or keeping) a few of them on your racing calendar:

--A lot of smaller races are 5K's, often benefiting a local charity or family. Typically, $25-$30 seems to be the going rate for registration (in Iowa). After the operating costs are paid, most of the proceeds from the participants' registrations go to the benefactors. Personally, I'm a believer in "keeping it local," so I try to pencil in a few of these each season (as my schedule allows)...even though I'm not a particularly big fan of the 5K distance.

The race shirt from a nearby 5K event
--As mentioned, the 5K distance is often the distance of choice for these small endeavors.  Why? It's very accommodating. For the fast runners, it offers a great challenge to maintain a fast pace for the entire 3.1 miles. For the "average" runners, it's a great distance to gauge your training or experiment with speed work. Also, for those who don't consider themselves runners, it's a distance that can be walked by most people in 60-90 minutes, including children.

--Small venues often offer a smaller field of competitors. In other words, it is less intimidating for newer runners because they may be one of only 100 participants rather than a mass of hundreds (or more).

--Something else to consider, small races also offer the potential for placing in your age division. Fewer runners increase your odds of bringing home a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place age group award or door prize (not that any of us EVER need an ego boost once in awhile).

A neat shirt (actually tech fabric) along with the 3rd place Age Group medal earned
--Many of these small events also offer a kids' 1-mile fun race (or a shorter distance). After all, how do we get kids interested in the sport of running? Start them young (or better yet, run with them)!

--The majority of races (big or small) offer a race shirt. For the smaller events, (usually) the shirts will be cotton, which is not typically an ideal fabric for breaking a sweat....but the race shirts will have graphics promoting the event (which will not only be a great keepsake for the participants, but it will generate interest in future events for the general public). Worst case scenario, if it's a cotton shirt with a cool logo (that you know you'll never wear "as is"), you can craft it into something a little more fun & funky.

The cotton shirt from a past Quad Cities Times Bix-7 that was buried in my closet, until it got a new life as a tank top

--Typically, the shirts will have the sponsors listed (usually on the back). This serves two purposes- a means of thanking the sponsors for their generosity, and also advertising for the sponsors, most of whom are local businesses and organizations.

A sample of a race shirt back...lots of sponsors get their name(s) and logos promoted

--A big advantage of smaller-venue events, you can usually pick up your race packet on race day. No need to make a separate trip to get your race bib (and swag), a HUGE bonus for out-of-towners.

--Some of the smaller events are now offering a 10K option (usually a second lap of the 5K course). Guess what? There will be even fewer people doing the longer distance, so your odds of capturing an award just increased!

What do you think? Most of us start out doing small races, why not keep a few of them on your roster? Have you done small events? Do you have a preference over small vs. large race events?







34 comments:

  1. I do love the small home town race, especially for the holidays! I run every Thanksgiving morning for our local turkey trot 5k- they are so much fun and the $$$ stay in the community!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I went through a phase, after I started doing more "distance events," and kind of shunned the small races....probably because most were 5K's (and that "short" distance always frustrates an "average" runner like me #nospeed). I have come to realize the race doesn't have to be about me, but for a much better cause....and keeping the $$$ local is awesome ;-)

      Delete
  2. I LOVE smaller races! The trail race I did last weekend gave 100% of the entry back to the local dog shelter so bonus! Plus like you said, fewer people means maybe an age group win. Packet pick up was a breeze and yeah they had cotton long sleeve shirts but they were cute and dog themed so I love them. The 5 K I am hopefully doing in a couple of weeks has all the money going into scholarships for local runners who maybe aren't signed by colleges. I love giving back!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How awesome!!!! Good luck in a couple weeks..hopefully you're able to run the 5K ;-)

      Delete
  3. I try to run my hometown race every summer. Interestingly, this race seems to attract a lot of fast runners! I actually prefer smaller races. There's so many advantages--less weaving, fewer posers...really, it's all good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely! "Fewer posers"...you crack me up ;-)

      Delete
  4. I LOVE small races! It's a great chance to actually meet people!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. agreed! Most runners are very personable, but you get a much better chance for conversation at the smaller races. I actually met a gal one time at a local race for our college, and she told me about a half marathons (that I have since run 5 times!).

      Delete
  5. I really do enjoy doing smaller races - the big races can get so claustrophobic! I love that the local races usually benefit the community in some way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The local benefactors are usually someone you've heard about or are familiar with their cause or situation. It's all good ;-)

      Delete
  6. Small races are so much fun! I love because they ACTUALLY CARE

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And they have great food! My race last weekend served up biscuits -n-gravy and pie at the finish line ;-)

      Delete
  7. I enjoy the smaller, local races! When I'm well, you could consider me a small race junkie. LOL. I use the 5k to work on speed and then typically run long the next day. It works well for me.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Although I think running a 5k for me is so much harder than a 10k or half I love to support them. I believe if we don't support our smaller races, they won't have them anymore. Simple as that. You are right most of the time they benefit local charities. What's not to love about it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree! The 5K can be just as difficult and challenging as you make it. It's always tricky to get my pace right so I don't go out too fast, or conserve too much energy.... #runnerprobs

      Delete
  9. I love running smaller, local races for so many of the reasons that you mentioned. One of our local running stores sponsors a really well organized race series. I've run several of their races and will continue to participate in their races for the foreseeable future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A nearby running store I've recently become acquainted with sponsors several races...they always have a great turnout, awesome sponsors, and neat shirts/bling. And, since the store is the key sponsor, the races are organized to perfection!

      Delete
  10. I started racing with the "small" races and they hold a special place in my heart. I love them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are a lot of fun! There's usually a small enough crowd of runners (and walkers) that you can recognize everyone at the finish line ;-)

      Delete
  11. I love small races! I've never placed but I've come pretty close in a few tiny ones. I love wearing the cotton ones on lazy weekend days too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, it's fun placing and bringing home some hardware...but I have come to realize it's all contingent on who else shows up. One time, I ran a 5-mile race with a friend. I had just "graduated" to an older age group. I ran the race fast (for me) and I finished a good minute or so ahead of this gal. I wound up getting 5th in my AG, and she got 3rd....so there you go ;-)

      Delete
  12. I agree, I love the idea about a shorter race. I have never run a super long race, and have had great experiences with shorter runs!
    http://www.holisticbalancenutrition.co

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are a lot of fun, and always support a great cause! ;-)

      Delete
  13. I very rarely run a small race and I WANT to! BUt living in DC they are ALL big. I need to go further out of the city and look for some smaller ones!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, there probably are a lot of "small" races, they're just not as as easy to find. Community organizations, churches, and (often times) schools utilize races as fundraisers because everyone gets tired of fundraising the old-fashioned way (asking for funds or selling stuff). (And, I need to find a race to in DC to come & run!!)

      Delete
  14. I love the smaller races for the exact reasons you state here. My grandson and I proudly wear our matching race shirts when we hang out together. I am glad they are t-shirts instead of tech so that we can wear them everywhere. I love that he can get a medal that makes him feel so proud and at the same time, it's an easy process for my daughter getting him registered and there in the morning. Our local races do support such great causes and it's great to get the kids involved in these events. Sometimes, they offer us a half marathon that finishes in time to join the kids in their race. Here's to local races!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, something as simple as a participation medal means the world to a kid, and will (usually) inspire them to run another race ;-) What a great memory for your grand kids...getting to run with you!

      Delete
  15. I got (re)married in July, 2014 and the community where we live now has an awesome 5K in early May that is the perfect description of a local race! Race day packet pickup, the starting line is less than a mile from my house and about 200 people run. My two sons joined me this year and my 19-year-old won his age group, with two of his friends taking the next two places! It's a perfect small town event.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How awesome is that! A spring 5K is also a great way to get a jump-start on your summer running....either a goal to work towards, or a gauge as to what "needs work" if you have a competitive spirit ;-)

      Delete
  16. I love the small town races! There's several here that have become my favorites and I support them year after year. I like to do a smaller, local race at least once a month.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the are a lot of fun! It's great to see the variety of people...the newbies, the walkers, the groups of friends, and the token few local "hot shots." It's all good!

      Delete
  17. I live in a small town so most races around me, that's all we get are small races :) I dont mind one bit... & then they make the big races even more exciting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. absolutely!! I really have come to appreciate the small races ;-)

      Delete