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How I choose which races to run

If you pop over to my race calendar (go on, I’ll wait), you’ll see that it’s rather full. Why would I do this to myself, you ask? Probably because I’m addicted to scheduling/registering for races. I only say this somewhat jokingly. When I register for a new race, after checking out the website, and decide to give the race directors my hard-earned money, I do feel a small rush. I will say this–I have gotten much better at thinking before pulling the trigger and registering for a million races at once. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. Shit costs money, and I’m not a millionaire (not even in shekels)

  2. I can’t predict the future, and might be injured

#1 has prevented me from taking a few European racecations (race vacation), like this. At this point, it’s probably the smart thing to do. As a new immigrant, my priority is making (mostly) smart financial decisions. Traveling to Tokyo for a week and running the 2018 Tokyo Marathon was an absolutely unbelievable experience, but not something I can afford to do on a regular basis. This leads me to #2…running the NYC Marathon in November and the Tokyo Marathon in February didn’t give me much down time in between. As a result, I had to skip a few shorter races that I wanted to run. In the future, I want to be smarter, and more circumspect about the races I choose to run.

When I lived in NYC, it was easy to choose races–I mostly ran New York Road Runners races. Most of the races were held in Central Park…some a 5 minute jog from my apartment. Bib pick-up was held at the NYRR satellite office…also near Central Park, meaning that I could always pick up the race bib a few days before the race. This required very little planning.

How I choose which Israeli races to run:

  1. I might be running a race, but I’m still lazy I live in Tel Aviv, a large city in the center of Israel. I don’t own a car. Therefore, races that are accessible by public transportation and ideally within a 60 minute radius are prioritized. Most of the races I run fall into this category. Furthermore, the majority of Israeli races are 5Ks or 10Ks, and in general, I’m not going to travel 2+ hours to run a random 10K.

  2. Temperature and terrain I’m a wuss when it comes to extremely hot weather or extremely hilly courses. The Israeli racing calendar seems to be built to avoid the hotter months…as for the elevation, for now I’m skipping the ultra marathons that are run up mountains (literally), and the Jerusalem Marathon and Half Marathon (could be convinced to run the half, but only if I ran it with friends, so I won’t have to suffer alone!).

  3. I’ll also settle for a pretty view/cool place Israel is a small country with a surprising number of microclimates. Drive 2 hours, and lush, green forests give way to deserts. One of the main reasons I ran the Dead Sea Half Marathon was…to run alongside the Dead Sea!

  4. Trying new things is fun (especially with a travel buddy) After long weeks of work, ulpan, trying to have a social life, and occasionally running, by the time the weekend comes, I’m exhausted and just want to sleep/be lazy and mayyyybe have a casual stroll around Tel Aviv that “just so happens” to end at a bar. By running races, I’m seeing parts of Israel that I would otherwise never (or rarely) visit. In addition, my boyfriend is generally down to travel around Israel with me when I want to run various races…and he happens to have a car, which makes traveling to the less centrally-located races (see above) MUCH easier.

  5. It’s a major race in Israel (and I want to feel the energy) When searching for info on popular races in Israel, I came across the following: Tel Aviv Night Run, Tel Aviv Marathon, Jerusalem Marathon, Tiberias Marathon, and Eilat Desert Marathon. (I think that over time, the Dead Sea Marathon will join this list!) Based on my experience so far (Tel Aviv Night Run and Dead Sea Half Marathon), bigger events have better PR, larger attendance, and better energy. Seriously, running a local 10K on streets that are empty, except for the occasional family or volunteers manning the water stations can be rough sometimes. I realize now that I took large race fields and the accompanying energy for granted. Never again!

  6. The race is culturally significant If the race is unique to Israel, I’m more likely to be interested. For example, in a week and a half, I’m running the Kalaniyot (Anemone) 10k, a race held in the northernmost part of the Negev desert, where the Kalaniyot flowers spring to life for a brief period of time…simply because I think it will be stunning to run through fields of these:

photo credit: Darom Adom

The race is being held as part of the Darom Adom (Red South), an annual festival held in the early spring, when the Kalaniyot flowers bloom, turning the northern Negev into a beautiful sea of red. The festival is unique to Israel, so when I saw the race advertised in my Facebook feed, I knew I wanted to run the race.

  1. The bling (of course) I saved the best for last! Of course, if the medal is pretty, I’m more likely to want to run the race. So far, with the exception of the Tel Aviv Night Run, I haven’t been wowed by any of the medals. To be fair, if it’s a small local race, I’m surprised they offer medals at all. I have yet to find a race that I’d run solely for the bling…but I remain hopeful!

If you were running a race, what factors would you consider prior to registration?

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