Thursday, January 7, 2010

Best of 2009... Marathon Course Edition!

**I've had a few responses to my request for team names for the bataan marathon... if you haven't submitted on yet, or if you want to send in more, please leave a comment or send me an email!!**

Best Marathon Courses of 2009

This is the 2nd installment of my "Best of 2009..." marathon ratings. This time we're talking courses!!! Every runner is different and so are their course preferences! I personally enjoy a course with a lot of variety, flat, hills, turns, woods, pavement etc. Those "flat as a pancake" courses are NOT for me! So please keep this in mind...

Rating Notes...
I gave 4 courses perfect scores. A perfect score means, for the area and that race I wouldn't change a thing about the course. It has to provide something above and beyond a normal marathon course-- be it course conditions, speed of course, variety, scenery, etc. I also gave 2 course "4.7s." I'll rank the 4.7's in the 2nd and 3rd spots, and put the 5.0's in order.

3) New Hampshire Marathon 4.7/5.0
October 3, 2009
Bristol, NH
Overall Rating: 3.8/5.0
Info: I did this race as part of a back-2-back marathon weekend with ME. If I had done it alone however, I think it would have made a GREAT PR course. I had to keep slowing myself down and still ran a 4:20. The course has a little bit bigger rolling hills, so you get a constant change of position and muscle use. Very very pretty in the fall of the northeast. Scenic and FAST!

2) RI 6-Hour Ultra 4.7/5.0
November 15, 2009
Warwick, RI
Overall Rating: 4.9/5.0
Info: If you're going to be running a 2.7 mile loop over and over, it better be on a good course... and this one was!!! There was SO much variety to this course. It ran through a park that had small and larger hills, stretches of flat, and it was beautiful. It was also VERY helpful mentally to run the 2.7 over and over rather than a flat out course... you only had to push yourself 2.7 miles at a time! Variety, Fun, and Mentally it was a breeze...

1d) Hatfield-McCoy Marathon 5.0/5.0 (4th of 4)

June 13, 2009
Williamson WV (Can count as a KY race for 50-staters)
Overall Rating: 4.8/5.0
Info: VARIETY! made this a #1 course for 2009. The course was so much fun I can't wait to go back and do it again. You run on roads, on trails, through people back yards (no joke), along huck-finn look alike rivers, through old western towns, through 2 states and it's fun the whole way! This is the type of scenery you would expect to get out of old movies! If you run this, take a camera with you!

1c) Vermont City Marathon 5.0/5.0 (3rd of 4)
May 24, 2009
Burlington, VT
Info: I'm still getting over this race (missing BQ by 13 seconds), but I can't hold that against my rating. SPEED is the name of this course. It's just a FAST course with a lot of variety and turns so you can't get too bored. It seemed like all the runners pushed each other, and you had quick uphills with slow rolling down hills that helped you pick up speed. Along with the speed, this course was named top 10 most scenic marathon in the country by RW!

1b) Disney World Marathon 5.0/5.0 (2nd of 4)
January 11, 2009
Orlando, FL
Overall Rating: 4.5/5.0
Info: Let me say first off.. yes, there are a COUPLE boring parts to Disney, however... Can you REALLY rate a course lower than a 5 when it has ALL your favorite childhood characters scattered through it cheering for you? Answer: NO! This course is F-U-N with M-I-C-K-E-Y! You can stop and take your picture with all your favorite characters and you wind through all the parks of Disney!

Pictured Right-- CB in front of Cinderella's Castle!
And the #1 2009 Marathon Course is...

1) Dances with Dirt- Devil's Lake!!! 5.0/5.0 (1st of 4)
July 11, 2009
Baraboo, WI
Overall Rating:
Info: If you've been following this blog for a while you may remember that I actually did a little video montage  for this race!! It was BEAUTIFUL, it had variety, it was tough, it was CRAZY and reckless... I LOVED it. The site states "Weak, wimpy, treadmill running pansies who are afraid to get some dirt in their shorts need not apply. Expect to be scratched, muddied and bruised by the beauty of this unpolished gem." I love this race so much, I've been trying to do the other "dances with dirt" races. I plan to do them all at some point... even if that means repeating states.  (Right-->; View from the top of the stone steps... toughest hill you'll ever CLIMB -literally- in a marathon).

Worst Marathons of 2009...

3) Louisville Marathon - 2.6/5.0
October 18, 2009
Louisville, KY
Overall Rating: 2.5/5.0
Info: The majority of the race was run on concrete (OUCH!!!) The only thing that made up for it (slightly) is that you did get to see a few different areas of Louisville... City, Suburb, Along the river. The course, however, was just SO boring!

2) Park City Marathon 2.5/5.0
August 22, 2009
Park City, UT
Overall Rating: 3.0/5.0
Info: I really did like this marathon, but the course wasn't great. It had very very long flat open spots where you just ran straight toward a mountain for 8-10 miles. There were loose gravel trails for a lot of the race and there was NO shade. That was bad because it was HOT-- 80 or 90 degrees for most of the race. The course WAS scenic... if you could enjoy that in the hot hot sun.

And the WORST marathon course of 2009 is...

1) Sunburst Marathon - 2.0/5.0
June 6, 2009
South Bend, IN
Overall Rating: 3.0/5.0
Info: This was a very boring FLAT as a pancake course. Not a fan. On top of that, it was not planned out well and the course actually crossed the half-marathon course right about when the faster marathoners were passing and the slower halfies were passing... leading to a lot of confusion and a big crash. The one thing I DID like is that you end right IN the notre dame football stadium and get to run through the tunnel.

Pic left: MB in front of "TD Jesus"

Remaining 2009 course in order...
Top 6 listed above...
7) Leading Ladies Marathon 4.5/5.0
8) San Francisco Marathon 4.5/5.0
9) ING Georgia Marathon 4.5/5.0
10) OBX Marathon 4.3/5.0
11) Nashville Country Music Marathon 4.0/5.0
12) Erie Marathon at Presque Isle 3.8/5.0
13) Peak Performance Maine Marathon 3.4/5.0
14) Northern Central Trails Marathon 3.0/5.0
15) Boulder Backroads Marathon 2.7/5.0
Bottom 3 listed above...


  1. I LOVE VCM! It's my hometown marathon and I actually do not think it is an exceptionally fast if you only missed the BQ by 13 seconds on this course, you totally have it in you! I am surprised your rated Park City so low- that's near the top of my list for 2010 possibilities, I was in PC for a wedding last year and thought the scenery was to die for so it's good to know your thoughts.

  2. I'm running Vermont City this May and I'm SOOOO excited!! Great list, I love reading about your marathon experiences!

  3. Oh come now -- the Park City Marathon is fantastic. You certainly picked a great race for Utah. Sorry you didn't enjoy it!

  4. I love VCM. It was my first marathon and is the only marathon I have done twice. The biggest plus for me is how many times you get to see family/friends who have come to cheer you on. I have only done 5 marathons so don't have a lot of knowledge about most of the courses. I did Peak Performance Maine Marathon this year and did not feel wowed by the course at all. Last year I did Hudson/Mohawk in upstate New York and loved it. It is a very small marathon with NO frills but the course was great and it was perfect fall day.


  6. I love this post! Thanks for doing all the links to your recaps.

    Run strong on your back-2-back!

  7. Happy New Year. Hope you have a great 2010! Sure sounds like you had fun in'09. Ever think about some 50k's thay are fun and be good training for you!

  8. Just hit follow. I moved the followers link to the top above my posting..

    Have a great day!!

  9. I have to admit that they know to name those courses. Specially the first one. I don't think that I want to participate if the word devil is on it.