Know Your Courses
Point to Point
The race starts at one place and finishes at another. The Boston and New York City Marathons are notable examples.
Out and Back
The race starts in one direction, then doubles back on itself to the finish.
More: What to Do With Your Old Race Bibs, T-shirts, and Medals
The start and finish are in the same general place; the course forms a large loop.
The lollipop course starts and ends along the same stretch but includes a loop in the middle. Seen from above, the course somewhat resembles a lollipop, with start and finish at the bottom of the stick.
A rare form of racecourse that takes runners through space and time, at unexpected intervals, via topological portals.
Note: May interfere with chip timing.
Quick Tip: You may be tempted to put the name of your cause on your shirt, which is fine as long as you don't mind hearing, "Go, Arthritis!"
More: When Do I Run at Race Pace?
Choose the Right Hotel
- You want a hotel as close to the start as reasonably possible, of course. If you're unable to find one within walking distance, factor in the time, cost, and stress of making it from a given hotel to the start on race morning, versus the price, and choose the least-stressful option.
- Ask for a room not too close to the ice machine or elevators.
- Most rooms today are nonsmoking, but it never hurts to make sure.
- As soon as you get to your room, unpack all of your running gear. If you've forgotten something important, now's the time to find out.
Find the Damn Thing
Especially for smaller, local races, simply finding the starting area and the registration/ bib pickup area can be a challenge. This is becoming less of a problem with the widespread use of GPS navigation systems, but it's vexing when it does happen.
Print out a map and directions to the start the night before the race, even if you think you know where you're going. If all else fails, keep your eyes peeled for other carloads of confused-looking runners, and follow them. At the very least, you can be lost together.
More: 5 Pre-Race Tips to Be Ready for Race Day