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|
--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|
--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|
--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?