When Angie and I go to a big city marathon she leaves all the logistics to me.
This includes finding the hotel, finding the expo, finding the starting line, getting back to the hotel, and parking the car in crazy downtown environs. (In New Orleans we paid $35 to park for 1 hour!)
We recently ran the Kentucky Derby Marathon in Louisville, KY -a city of 741,096 according to their Wikipedia page.
Here are my tips for getting to the starting line stress free.
Six Tips for Big Marathon Logistics
- Get a late checkout at your hotel. Thankfully the Drury Hotel in Louisville allowed us to bump our checkout time to 2:00 p.m.. This gave us time to get back to our room and shower, take a quick nap, and pack up before heading home. So if you are not planning on staying an extra night, definitely get a late checkout. If your hotel refuses this request . . . ask them if they think it is smart to anger a man/woman who runs 26.2 miles for fun.
- Eat early before your race (and be careful). We eat early the night before our race so the food has plenty of time to digest. You don’t want your food sitting heavy on race day. Also, when we’re in a unfamiliar city looking for a place to eat, we usually stick with the restaurant chains we know. After the marathon we venture out and look for something local and unique.
- Spend the day before orienting yourself to the city. To ensure a smooth race day experience, spend the day before orienting yourself to the city using a route planner app such as Route4Me. The morning of the race is no time to get lost trying to find your way around. Even if you have GPS it won’t hurt to practice getting to the starting line. See how long it takes you and make a mental note of any detours. Capicé?
- Don’t worry about parking close to the starting line. We like to scope out parking garages the day before the race. Finding parking downtown is always challenging. But, it’s ok to park 6-10 blocks from the starting line. The walk will be a good warm up. If you are running late ignore this tip.
Remember, it always pays to get to the starting line early (like 45 minutes at the least). There will be long porta-potty lines! And a full bladder is no laughing matter.
- Thread your key into your shoelace. I always wonder about what to do with my car keys. Until now! At the Kentucky Derby Marathon I took the main door/ignition key and threaded it into my shoelace. This is a trick Angie told me about. The key was snug (there’s no way to lose it unless you lose your shoe) and it never flopped around. Shazam!
- Pick a place to meet your peeps. There are thousands of people at a big city marathon. Talk to your friends or family ahead of time and agree on a place to meet up. Often the race will have a designated meet up area with huge letters of the alphabet hanging overhead. Most of the time I watch Angie cross the finish line but if all else fails, we meet up under the giant “S”. Cus’ that’s how we roll.
Follow these tips to keep it stress free at your next big city race. Or, delegate the logistics (and stress) to your husband like Angie does.
Either way, you will get to the starting line ready to rock!