Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

In Praise of the Small Marathon

I’m giving some thought to a Fall marathon (or two). Oddly, my last two marathons were at opposite ends of the marathon experience. Earlier, I posted a blog on the New York City (NYC) Marathon, the largest marathon in the world. Let me tell you about a follow-up to the New York Marathon, a wonderful early March small race about 5 hours south of New York. The Lower Potomac River (LPR) Marathon isn’t the smallest marathon in the world, but it’s close.

Sunrise start during mile 1 of LPM - Photo credit: Jeanne Larrison

Sunrise start during mile 1 of LPM – Photo credit: Jeanne Larrison

I hesitate to spread the word about this small gem for fear of losing out on registration another year. I’ll take that chance and share my large/small marathon comparison:

Entry Fee (depending on registration date/details):
NYC: $255
LPM: $50

Transportion to Start:
NYC: 2.5 hours approx. Subway, ferry, then bus to Start
LPR: 5 minute drive to start/finish at Paul Hall Center from the St. George Inn

Start Time:
NYC: 10:30 a.m. – 3rd wave
LPR: 7:30 a.m.

Women and Place in F65-69 Age Group:
NYC:121 in AG, 6th Place
LPR: 3 in AG, 2nd Place

NYC: 53,000
LPR: 180 (Race caps registration at 200) 

About as crowded as it got on the course. Photo credit:  Crystal Rapp

About as crowded as it got on the course. Photo credit: Crystal Rapp

Fantastic Women Race Directors:
NYC: Mary Wittenberg
LPR: Liza Recto

Personal Finish Time:
NYC: 4:28
LPR: 4:39 (I’ll save the excuses)

NYC: through portions of 5 boroughs, over Hudson River
LPR: along Potomac River, past lighthouse, horse farm, riverside cottages

NYC: High Winds, cool & crisp
LPR: Clear, crisp, minimal remaining roadside ice and snow after a tough winter

Photo Credit: Jeanne Larrison

If you enjoy hearing early morning bird calls and the wind in the pines, this race is for you. If crowd support is a must, maybe not. Photo Credit: Jeanne Larrison

Time Change on Race Date (how odd is this?):
NYC: To EST – gained an hour
LPM: To DST: – lost an hour

Race Photos:
NYC: 3-Image Download, $49.95
LPM – Courtesy images at request from on-course photo-joggers of  Chesapeake Bay Running Club.

    Large Expo
    Photo Ops with Elite Runners

Waterside dinner with local runners at the
                  Ruddy Duck steps away from Inn
      Indoor Bathrooms at Start/Finish
      Post-race Showers available in the Spa
      Buffet luncheon (no charge for runners) during awards

How do your large and small marathons compare?

Pre-race Dinner at the Ruddy Duck with local runners. Photo credit: Crystal Rapp

Pre-race Dinner at the Ruddy Duck with local runners. Photo credit: Crystal Rapp

Does the convenience and hospitality of the small marathon trump the celebrity, expo, and crowd support of the mega-marathons – or not?


  Toasty Strings wrote @

I love small marathons. Actually, I love small races of any kind! Large marathons are overwhelming to me. Boston is an incredible race for so many reasons, but I still prefer the smaller ones, especially in scenic areas. HUGE congrats on placing 6th in your age group in NYC. That’s fantastic!!!

  Still a Runner wrote @

Thanks and I agree, Angela. Local scenery and usually local cuisine if you stay in town long enough to search it out.

  Movin’ it with Michelle wrote @

I definitely prefer a smaller race. The crowds are exciting, but can give me anxiety, lol!

  Still a Runner wrote @

Yes. I find tunnel vision helps with that.

  afastpacedlife wrote @

In general, I prefer smaller races. I always look for local races with lots of character or are a little quirky.

  Still a Runner wrote @

Yes, quirky is good – and memorable.

  jackieoutrunning wrote @

I like small to medium sized races. For shorter distances I really like small races, but for a half or full marathon, I enjoy some crowds and having some people running close to me. I like the 2,000 – 5,000 range though. I don’t like starting late or being crowded together when running – 56,000 sounds crazy!

  Still a Runner wrote @

Jackie it was crazy when you think about the total people and the logistics. They did have us staggered in enough start times that I didn’t feel as crowded as I sometimes have in races half the size. A lot of credit to the NYC RD & her team for pulling it off so well.

I’m with you on choosing a race with smaller numbers for short races.

  MarathoningMom wrote @

I to love small regional races. My experience with them is much more positive than larger races!

  Still a Runner wrote @

Good to hear support for the regional races. My fall race will likely be a small regional race.

  dave at runopedia wrote @

as a race director I want a big crowd, but I like running in smaller races, 300 to 500 5k and 1000 to 1500 half marathons.

  Still a Runner wrote @

I agree, Dave, although as a fellow race director I find that different types of runners are drawn to different size events. Expectations for what they expect to achieve in participating in the event can be quite interesting.

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