Monday, January 27, 2014

To Gamble OR Not To Gamble, That is The Question

5 of my closest friends and running partners recruited, a google spreadsheet created summarizing all of the VRBO options {including THE ideal place to stay}, excitement building to run another 26.2 miles, and a list of local Chicago "must-visit" places created, with the help of Dear Mr. Knightley; then came the email that changed it all.  On January 16th I received an email that totally cramped my {Type A marathon planning} style...Registration for the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon will be conducted through a system of guaranteed entries and non-guaranteed lottery selected entries.  Being that I don't qualify for the guaranteed entry, I would have to throw my name into the lottery.  

Did I mention this totally cramps my Type-A style!? Now there are so many factors and options {and unknowns, ugh!}...

We can all enter the lottery, and all 5 of us may get in, none of us may get in, or just one of us may get in. And with any lottery entry system, your credit card is automatically charged if you are selected {there is no turning back  OR transferring your entry}. 

We can choose another marathon. 

I can run for an official Chicago Marathon Charity in order to  guarantee my spot. 

I can enter the lottery, and if I don't get in, select a charity to run for that still has entries available following the lottery.

I want to be completely honest about my personal thoughts & feelings regarding running for a charity. While I think there are several very worthy charities and organizations that people run for,  for me personally I don't feel like it is the right option, as I feel like I would be asking people to pay for me to run a marathon.  I am a huge advocate of supporting, via fundraising, non-profit organizations and charities, but I need to have a heart string attachment/deep connection to the cause.  While the list of Chicago Marathon charities have not been provided yet, I will only consider running for a charity if there is one I am truly and genuinely passionate about, and I have done my research on their finances and the organization as a whole. 

I can enter the lottery, and if I don't get in move on to marathon Plan B. 

While I would love to run through the spectator lined streets of Chicago, on the course that has been labeled Best Chance for a PR, and visit all  the sites of The Windy City, I also want to train for & run the 26.2 miles with my friends. After all, it's the PEOPLE that truly make the race one to remember, not the location. 

Coordinating 5 people from across the country can get complex, but a decision needs to be made! 

So, without further adieu, here are my top choices for a fall 2014 marathon:

1. CHICAGO MARATHON: Take a gamble and throw my name in the hat

2. TWIN CITIES MARATHON: Best Race That Lives Up To The Hype & Most Scenic Urban Race
{Unfortunately Tess is not able to run this marathon, but I do have a friend who recently moved to MN and it would be great to see her}

3.  BIG COTTONWOOD MARATHON: Nowhere will you find a better combination of fast and beautiful

Please help me make a decision by sharing your thoughts on and experience with any of the above marathons. 


  1. Twin Cities Marathon is on my bucket list, far above the Chicago Marathon. I think it's more scenic and I've always heard great things about it. For me, Chicago is just too big. BUT, it's such a great city and for someone who lives on the West Coast, it might be a better place for a racecation.

    I am no help. But, I have similar feelings on running for charity. Go with your heart.

  2. I think they all look amazing!! The Big Cottonwood would be my pick so you all can do it together. Maybe you'll PR there and qualify for a guaranteed entry into the Chicago Marathon for Fall 2015!! chicago has been on my bucket list and it stinks it's lottery now.

  3. Twin Cities!!!!!!!!! It is AMAZING. I only ran the 10-mile, but if I had the $$$ for airfare, I'd go back and run the full marathon in a heartbeat. I don't think I've ever run a race with a more enthusiastic crowd. I mean, the TC Marathon creates and hands out a "How to Cheer" booklet for those who aren't running.

    Also, I found that a lot of things (restaurants, shopping, etc.) were significantly cheaper than the big city Seattle. We ate at a fancy Italian restaurant a few blocks away from the hotel where the entrees were maximum $15/person.

    Also, the finish line of the Twin Cities marathon is the most beautiful thing you will ever see. Capitol Building, American Flag, and a Cathedral. It's gorgeous. Seriously, just Google a few pictures.

    Finally, for the build-up, there is the river to run along, bridges to cross, and cool museums (and the Mall of America) to check out. I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend it.

  4. I've run both Chicago and Twin Cities multiple times. They're completely different races and both great depending on what you want.
    --Chicago is by far the flatter of the two--Twin Cities is all uphill between miles 20 and 23.
    --Both have fantastic crowd support but I'd give the slight edge to Chicago just because the crowds in some places (Boys Town, Lincoln Park, last mile on Michigan Ave.) runs six deep. Nothing like running through that density of humans cheering.
    --Logistically, Twin Cities wins hands down. It's 1/3 the size, the organization is great and you'll have your warm up sweats in hand within 30 seconds of getting to the gear pick up after the race.It's also easier to stay with a pace group at Twin Cities given the size.
    --Scenery depends on what you like. Twin Cities runs around lots of lakes and has beautiful fall colors. Chicago is neighborhood and some fantastic smells (Pilsen, Little Italy).

  5. That's a tough choice! Big Cottonwood is looks gorgeous, but less spectator support than Twins Cities.Sorry, I'm not much help! They all look good! It's like peanut butter cup vs. a twix bar--both wonderful--good news is, you can't go wrong!

  6. Twin Cities!!!! Perfect time of year....great course, nice swag, easy to navigate. Fans + volunteers rock. Hang out after in one of the fab neighborhoods - you might move here ;)

  7. Dang it!! I loved Chicago as you know. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone but it is big! Everyone said that it was a huge crowd but really once I got out of the first 3 miles it thinned out pretty good but I am not super fast either!! It totally sucks that your plans got bent out of shape because of the lotto!! I still can't believe it!! Put your name in the lotto. I bet its easier to get in then NYC!! But what do I know!! :)
    I have heard good things about TC and totally want to do it. One day!!!