On New Year’s Day 2020, our family had a laundry list of travels, races, travels for races, and travels with Stroller Warrior friends for races. Travel excursions and races always gave me something to look forward to. However, COVID-19 decided otherwise. This was tough, but difficult endeavors yield meaningful outcomes.
Quickly, my running and strength training shifted, my fitness plan quickly included the kids in every workout. At times, this resulted in frequent interruptions, but it also resulted in the kids becoming interested in completing their own workouts- taking the initiative to run on their own, and to complete a few functional fitness workouts. Difficult? Yes. Frustrating? At times. Beneficial? Absolutely…not only did they have more opportunity to witness our Warrior ethos, but to further develop their own Warrior spirit.
After a few months of virtual races, the local trail-race circuit slowly opened up to limited attendance races. Before I knew it, I was back on my beloved trails in August, but with the welcomed addition of a running-friend and race bib. Although it was hot and humid, and pre/post-race festivities were much different, my friend and I raced 11 glorious miles through the pines! It was so refreshing to run alongside a friend, chat, and laugh (with 6-feet separation of course)! After this trail race, a 15 mile trail race in October soon followed. These races gave me hope that perhaps we can again resume travel, races, and reunions with SW friends in 2021!
In Okinawa, Japan, Kelly M says that the Shouhashi Half Marathon in Nanjo is a must-do race. She said it’s very challenging making the finish-line cross something to be very proud of. Another favorite for her is the Ayahashi Half Marathon, 10k or 3.8k. This race is one of the flattest in Okinawa, and it is a beautiful run that leads racers over a series of bridges and back to the finish.
Mary Beth H.’s dream race is the Great Wall of China race where half and full marathon distances are offered. When the COVID-19 pandemic ends, she dreams of traveling to China for this once in a lifetime destination race.
Christie L’s dream race is the Jerusalem Marathon. She traveled to Israel on a mission trip 20 years ago, staying for 6 weeks, explaining that it was one of the best experiences of her life. She would love the opportunity to run a race there again!
Though Christie dreams of racing in Jerusalem, she currently lives in Germany. She says the must do local races for her are the Berlin Marathon, Frankfurt Marathon, and a tri-country marathon traversing through Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Deb E. Agrees with Christie having both the Berlin Marathon and 3 Countries Marathon on her list of must do races.
Hannah I. hopes to run the Patagonia International Marathon someday, specifically for the stunning views! This race navigates through Western Patagonia, near the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile and also offers half-marathon and 10k races.
The Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) tops the list for numerous Stroller Warriors, either as their favorite race in the VA/MD/DC area, or the race they dream of completing one day. Christy M says, “my dream race is MCM. It was the first one I watched my husband run and I had said to myself ‘I could never do that’. Now that I’ve got one under my belt, it’s on the schedule for 2021 (I’ve had to defer 3x now due to injury/surgery/2020).” Desiree H’s dream races are the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler (DC) and the MCM. She says, “I was selected for the Cherry Blossom race, but got injured and had to transfer my bib. The race ended up getting canceled. Must do races in the area include MCM, Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, National Women’s Half in DC, Across the Bay 10k, where you get to run across the Bay Bridge, which is awesome”. Gabi P. recommends the Seashore Nature Trail 50k — “the course is through the First Settler’s Landing in Virginia Beach and is absolutely amazing. The people who put it on are incredible and it’s a great first 50k race”. Kelly M. tried to signed up for the Seashore Nature Trail 5Ok in 2019 and was 148th on the waiting list. So if you’re interested in that race, be sure to sign up the day they open registration. Hannah I. noted that most runners come to Virginia Beach for the VA Beach Shamrock Marathon. However, she also recommends the Harbor Half, the Wicked 10k, and the Surf n’ Santa 5 Miler.
Deb E. would love to run the Boston Marathon. This marathon is the world’s most-storied and pinnacle running race! Runners must meet qualifying race times in a previous marathon before gaining entry into the Boston Marathon. If you’ve ever heard a running talking about “BQing” or “Did you BQ?” They are talking about getting a Boston Qualifying time that will gain them entry to the Boston Marathon.
Christy M. suggested running the Navy 10 Nautical Miler (which equates to approximately 11.5 standard miles) in TN and the Little Rock Marathon (which includes huge finisher medals) and is also a relatively flat Boston Qualifying course.
Chelsea L would love to witness the Barkley Marathons in TN. Although running the race herself is not her dream, she is amazed by those able to complete this true feat of strength that navigates a four-lap 100-mile treck through TN’s rugged backcountry. Even those completing a single lap of 25 miles are typically bruised, bloody, broken, yet accomplished and proud (even when not completing the entire 100 miles)! Perhaps the Barkley Marathons intrigue her due to her cross-country roots, or possibly it’s creative approach/requirements for participant selection, or maybe it’s the amusing host- whatever it is, the Barkley adventure is quite special to her and many others. There is even an Amazon Prime Video featuring an entertaining documentary about the Barkley Marathons if you want to learn more about this unique race.
Katie P. said the Beaufort Twilight Run is a local favorite for her. She also mentioned that the Savannah River Bridge Run in Savannah, GA is super popular too! Mary Beth H. added that the Super Hero 5k in Beaufort, SC, is a favorite of hers. The Super Hero 5k was extra special to Mary Beth because it was her first time placing in an off-base race, and the first time she had her family at the finish line! As a bonus, there are many cute Bed ‘n Breakfasts nearby if you decide to make it a destination race.
Virginia A. explained that the Cowtown Marathon weekend is a must-do in Fort Worth, TX. This 2-day event offers a 5k, Children’s 5k, 10k, Half, Full, and Ultra Marathons. However, the race takes place in February and the weather can be temperamental.
Debbie E. is interested in Colorado’s Leadville 100. This race’s lowest altitude is 9,200 feet and it rises to 12,600 feet! It is an iconic ultra marathon that many hope to tackle and conquer.
Roselyn B. loves Montana’s Snow Joke Half Marathon. This bone-chilling February race takes runners around Seely Lake on packed-snow roads through forests of pine- it’s simply gorgeous!
Southwest U.S. and West Coast:
Amanda H. is a fan of the Monterey Half Marathon. After multiple deferrals due to wildfires and COVID-19, she hopes to take-on this race in 2023! Virginia A. looks forward to running any race in California’s wine country. She says, “You can’t beat a good race with some post-race vino!”
Kelly M. invites the challenge of the Rim-to-Rim Race through Arizona’s Grand Canyon as her must-do race. Runners begin on one side of the Grand Canyon, descending onto its floor, then ascending 4,400-feet to summit the other side of the Grand Canyon. This race also offers the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim Race where you double the distance and retrace your steps back to where you started.
U.S. Virgin Islands
Gabrielle P. is interested in the St. Croix Scenic 50. The course is absolutely gorgeous as it guides through tropical-terrain and alongside seaside overlooks. I don’t think many would complain about getting to race in the Virgin Islands!
Take a moment to investigate and explore these races! Hopefully a few of these events will find a way into your calendar in 2021 and beyond! 😊 If you have more must-do races you want to share with your team, feel free to add them as a comment for us all to read and learn about.