Traveling to New Starting Lines

April 7, 2016

Tips for Traveling to New Starting Lines

By Amy Whitley

Photo at right: Canadian Olympians Lanni Marchant and Natasha Wodak pass the 10k mark at Spanish Banks, B.C. Photo by Inge Johnson, courtesy Canada Running Series


If you’ve been entering fun runs and participating in community running events in your hometown, chances are your running feet are starting to itch for new courses and new challenges.

However, it can be intimidating to think about training for a race along with planning the trip it takes to get to the starting line.

Whatever your running goals or motivations, entering races outside your comfort zone (or time zone), can inspire you to lace up every morning, improve your performance and plan a fun adventure getting there.

Here’s what you need to know if your next race takes you out of town, out of state or out of the country.

Destination Matters

Unless your sole motivation for registering for new races is to qualify for the marathon of your choice, the host city of your race matters. Traveling to a race is an investment of time and money, and you should get a good bang for your buck.

Southern Oregon’s Imagine Fitness founder and distance runner, Michelle Gordon, considers a multitude of factors when choosing a new race. She researches dining options, lodging deals, and recreation and entertainment for spectators and family members.

It can be enjoyable to tack a few days onto the beginning or end of your event to play tourist, and to bring your family for a ready-made cheering squad.

Join a Club or Group

Joining a running club or race team can help you stay on track and sustain your motivation while the camaraderie lifts your spirits during challenging races.

Gordon’s running members not only enjoy the ability to book rental homes or hotel room blocks at a group rate, but benefit from a four month pre-run training schedule.

“It’s amazing the dynamic that takes place when you train for 16 weeks for an endurance event,” Gordon says. “You bond with people in a way you never thought you would.”

Housing Your ‘Entourage’

During my first distance run away from home, my marathon relay team and I decided to share a single hotel room to save money. While we did save a few bucks, we interrupted each other’s rest as we departed for different start times and lacked the space to spread out.

Instead, consider apartment or vacation home rentals through companies like HomeAway or AirBnB, or ask for a list of lodging partners when you register for your race.

Providing room for everyone on the trip still offers the opportunity to share meals, race experiences and play-time together while still accommodating everyone’s sleep.

Research the Event

Whether you run with a team or fly solo, it’s important to pay attention to a race’s reputation. Read reviews of the race on running message boards and websites, and pay special attention to any frustrations past racers have experienced with scheduling, timeliness and registration. Specifically, find out if the race directors manage a well-organized event.

Gordon also recommends doing your research to learn which events tend to sell out and which ones have spaces available the day-of. Use a website such as OutdoorsNW’s online event calendar to keep track of the year’s schedule of regional races.

Look for Variety

If you’re opting to bring friends, spectators or family members to your destination race, consider registering for a race with a variety of events. After cheering on parents, kids can stretch their own legs in a fun run or 5K. Invite a biking buddy to participate in a cycling event on the same day as your run.

Allowing everyone in your party to have their own events and goals for the weekend can eliminate any unhealthy competition while still fostering encouragement.

Be sure to celebrate your weekend accomplishments with friends and family with a Northwest microbrew and a healthy dose of pasta!


Amy Whitley lives in Ashland, Oregon. An outdoor travel writer and chaser of three boys on the trail, she has participated in races at home and afar ranging from half-marathons to fun runs and family 5ks.