The Mid-Atlantic Monthly
Official Newsletter of the USAT Mid-Atlantic Region

Saturday, August 30, 2014 VOLUME 1 ISSUE 9  
Hurricane Bob Mina
Hurricane Bob Mina
Fall Marathon Preview
by Bob Mina

November, huh?  Well, welcome to the beginning of your off-season!  Doesn’t sound like much reason to celebrate, but don’t worry about it.  Sure the days get shorter, the air gets colder, and it means it’s now time to think about getting to know your trainer and your basement walls again, but I’d be willing to bet that most of us need the break (even if we really don’t want it – you know, that whole “Type A Triathlete’s don’t take days off” thing).
So what can you do with yourself?  Maybe you’ve got all this fitness from a good summer, or maybe you’re like me and you’re still waiting for UPS to show up with it.  Either way there’s still plenty of racing left before the holidays – it’s marathon season!
Why a marathon?  Epic workouts, lots of miles will help you maintain your base (or rebuild it), and you don’t have to worry about Pam, wetsuits, wheels, toys, paddles, or the other 902 things you keep in your summer gear bag.
Grab your shoes, a nice hat, a coupla’ sticks of Body Glide, and some of those long-sleeve Coolmax things you keep in the lower left drawer.  Don’t worry – I’ll be there with you.  Well, check that – it’s even better.  If you know me, you know I’ll probably be behind you – so you’ll satiate that need to krieg the daylights out of someone in the spirit of competition, as well.
First stop, the city that never sleeps and The New York City Marathon.  Yes, yes, I know.  If you wanted to run this year’s edition it’s already too late.  But since the NY Road Runners Club is a paragon of organization, this is your guide if you want to run the 2003 edition.  In about 2 months, they’ll have the lottery application on-line (maybe less) at , and all you need to do is drop your name in and hope for the best.  Hey – I’m as luckless as they come, and I’m 2-for-2 in NYC applications, so give it a whirl.  If lotteries aren’t your style but you spend several weekends a year in New York, you can also sign up for the NY Road Runners Club and then run any 9 of their races.  Once you’ve entered and completed 9 (of any distance), you’re guaranteed entry into the marathon.  Neat, eh?
So once you find a way in, what can you expect?  A combination of the Super Bowl, the Tournament of Roses Parade, Mardi Gras, Bay to Breakers, the Running of the Bulls, the 4th of July, the finale of the “1812” Overture (minus the cannons, save one at the start), and a hint of New Yawk’ atteetood thrown in for just the right flavor.  If you only run one marathon in your life, you’re smarter then people that run two or more.   That being said, you must run at least one New York Marathon to complete your running CV.
From the start on the Verrazano-Narrows bridge, to the 12 miles through Brooklyn and all of its different flavors, to the 59th Street Bridge and the hundreds of thousands of spectators that wait from the first to the last through and cheer them the same, there is nothing else like it on Earth.
The City loves the race, embraces it, and makes you feel a part of something grand.  The finish line at Central Park (all 6 lanes of it) is a never-ending sea of humanity.  How big is the crowd with you?  In 2000 I finished in a pedestrian 4:26:57.  In the 60 seconds between 4:26:00 and 4:27:00 there were 224 finishers (of which I was 211th, natch). 
If the Roman Empire-like size and scale of NYC aren’t your speed, there are plenty of smaller marathons with a more ‘comfortable’ feel. 
The 25th annual Suntrust Richmond Marathon in Richmond, Virginia takes place on November 9th.  Last year there were 1,899 finishers, which makes it a little more inviting if you like running in your own space.   The race website ( says you can sign up right until the day before, and it’ll cost you $65.  If you’re really fast (like, 2:17 for men and 2:31 for women) you win a one-year lease of a Volkswagen Beetle! 
This marathon prides itself on being called “America’s Friendliest Marathon.”  Since I haven’t run this one yet, I can’t really comment on the course or the weather down there.  In lieu of this sudden-onset lack of creativity,  please allow me to blatantly rip-off said website and post their description here:
“Featuring a scenic course that takes you across the James River and through Richmond's historic neighborhoods, finishing in trendy Shockoe Slip, the SunTrust Richmond Marathon features one of the most unique and appealing courses anywhere.  Combine that with musical performers and enthusiastic crowds along the course, beautiful fall colors and an average daily temperature of 51 degrees, and you'll know why the SunTrust Richmond Marathon is a race you don't want to miss!”
If you think New York is just too much, and Richmond is still a little too much, enter the Montgomery County Marathon in the Parksto be run on November 17, 2002.  The race takes place in Montgomery County, Md., starting in Rockville and finishing in Bethesda.  The race website ( only tells a part of the story of this third-year event.  The entry here is only $39!  The field is capped on 3.900, but last year there were only 348 total finishers.  Ahh – solitude! 
At the finish line you can expect a different kind of fare; According to the organizers, “An expanded post-race festival will now include home-made chili by Smokey Glen Farm, fresh pizza by Potomac Pizza, and a variety of other food by area restaurants and food outlets.” 
Be ready to cover some hills, though – the profile doesn’t hold anything back.  If it’s in a park, you know it’s scenic, and that usually means hilly.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Lastly, we come to my favorite marathon of all, because it has become the traditional year-end event for me: The Philadelphia Marathon.  Much like Richmond, the muse can take its time in convincing you to run this one.  If you so choose you can decide on Saturday the 23rd, “I need to run a marathon tomorrow…” and get away with it.
You can enter now at for $50 now, or pay up $60 at the expo.  Philadelphia isn’t as small as Richmond or Marathon in the Parks, but it’s no New York yet either (although don’t tell anyone from Philly that – they have a real sensitivity to that whole New York comparison thing).  Last year there were 3,960 finishers, and that number has been fairly stable since I’ve started running it in 1997.
I’ve PR’ed on this course twice (1998 and 2000), and I train on it most of the time during the summer.  It crosses over itself several times, taking in all of the sights you’d want to see: The Waterfront, the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, City Hall, Chinatown, University City, The Museum of Art, Fairmount Park, and the long out and back along the Schuykill (Skyool-kill) River to Manayunk.  Most of the bigger hills come in the first 10 miles, but those little rollers that feel like nothing on the way out in miles 15-20 somehow double in size on the way back.  The finish is right on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in front of the Art Museum, right in front of the world’s most famous marble and granite staircase.
Most people ask me, “Do we get to run the steps?” and the answer is, “Sure!”  You start and finish right there in front of those famous Balboa steps on the Museum façade…but it never ceases to amaze me that in 5 years of running there, I’ve never seen a single person walk all the way up to the top for a finish picture after they finished.  I think if I ever tried, I’d just wait for the building to erode down to ground level so I wouldn’t have to walk back down.
Good luck in running whatever you choose, and remember – I’ll be there for Philly, so be sure to wave to the guy all in black (at least until someone invents a thinner color) on the way from Manayunk!
Hurricane Bob
p.s. – If I’ve whetted your appetite for covering 26.2, take a peek at  They’ve got links to every race out there, plus lots of great comments (pro/con) from runners that have been there.
Bob Mina is the monthly columnist for – The Home of Draft Free Triathlon Coverage on the web.  If you were offended, bored, or put off by any of the above material, whatever you do don’t go to and click on the link for “Hurricane Bob” on or about the last Tuesday of every month.  He can also be reached at - complaints are welcome; compliments are encouraged.

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