How do you choose a suitable marathon running race?

Choosing the right marathon running race to participate in, may be easier said than done. That’s because with the sheer number of races taking place worldwide, as well as the ease of travel to and fro between cities and continents, runners today are truly spoilt for choice.


Adidas Auckland Marathon, 2013.

So how do you choose which running race is the most suitable one for you? Here are several pointers that you may want to consider before you register for your next marathon race.

1. Is the weather conducive for training?

In Singapore, the weather is pretty much hot and sunny all year round. This makes it perfect to commit to and train for a running race, regardless of whether it is a local or an overseas race. But first of all, you will need to consider whether you would prefer to take part in a local race – which you are more familiar with, or would you prefer to take part in one in a temperate country – where you can use Singapore’s hotter weather to your advantage to clock a personal best timing in cooler weather.

However, if you are living in countries such as Australia, United Kingdom and United States, which experience the four seasons, you will have to consider carefully whether you want to brave the cold winter or the hot summer months to train – for a spring or an autumn marathon, as many races usually take place during these months. This is quite important, as for example, during the cold winter months, it may be hard to get adequate training in, because of the shorter daylight hours and sometimes freezing temperatures.

2. How big is the race?

You will also have to decide whether you want to participate in a large-scale or a small-scale race. For the record, a large race comprises of several thousand runners, but a small race usually consists of several hundred runners.

The advantage of taking part in larger races is that most 0f these tend to have better facilities and aid stations, but on the other hand, they can be over-congested compared to smaller races, and some of these may also comprise of plenty of walkers, depending on the cut-off time of the race that you are choosing.

3. What is the running route like?

The running route is another important factor that comes into play, when you are deciding on a suitable race to take part in. For example, you should try and find out whether the route has the same starting and finishing points such as the Sundown Marathon or whether the starting and ending points are different such as in the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore. Also, do note that some races may be quite hilly in terms of terrain e.g. the New York Marathon, whereas others can be quite flat e.g. the Berlin Marathon & the Gold Coast Marathon.

Also, it may be important for some runners to find out if the course comprises of multiple loops for example, the Bedok Reservoir Ultra Marathon, because not all runners may have the mental stamina to run round and round the same place multiple times.

At the same time, knowing the race route prior to signing up for it, will help you to train adequately for the race, especially when it comes to factors such as terrain and mental stamina to carry on on race day.

StanChart Marathon Singapore, 2014.

StanChart Marathon Singapore, 2014.

4. What do others say about the race?

Reading through race reports and fellow runner reviews to find out what others have thought about a run is also important in selecting the right race especially if you have never run in it before. That’s because if others have praised it year after year, then it must be a good event. However, if there are constantly complaints, you may want to consider choosing another race that has favourable reviews.

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1 Comment

  • Harold says:

    Just to add, finishing in an iconic place like the The Straits Times Run can be a spectacular thing. It’s something I’d never forget for a loooong time. I felt like a movie star or a famous athlete as I enter The Sports Hub.

    Also, sometimes I signed up for the race because of the freebies like the discount vouchers and finisher tee.

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