10 November 2010

Running – Pick a hotel, but not just any hotel

I first really “got” the point about which I’m going to write in 2005 when I ran the Davis Stampede Half Marathon.  Davis isn’t too far from Chico, Calif. where I live; it’s 100 miles away, and about an 1 hour 45 minute drive.

We walked two blocks to get here!
My partner Keith and I chose to drive down the day before and stay overnight at a Best Western two blocks from the race start.

We arrived the afternoon before the race, picked up our race packets at the local running store, got a good night’s sleep, and walked two entire blocks to the start of the race.


A light went on and has burned ever since, and now that I operate a hotel reservation booking service for business travelers, I have the opportunity to propagandize (in a good way) my clients, many of whom are both runners and business travelers.

Before I drown you in reasons, here’s the part to take away:

When you’re doing a big running event out of town, you owe it to yourself to get the nicest hotel room possible, striking the best balance you can between cost and proximity.

Look at it from this perspective.

You’ve trained for a marathon putting in untold hours and miles over many months time.  It’s quite likely you’ve gone through two or more pairs of running shoes in training.

Why would you want to put that entire investment at risk by staying in a hotel that is far from the race start (or transportation to the race start), or so cheap that a good night’s sleep is problematic?  It’s a clear-cut case of penny wise and pound foolish.

The most important thing you can do is be rested for the Big Race, and not have an undue stress level added to an already early morning start by having to drive a long distance to the start of the event, with all of the potential for car trouble, traffic jams, or a frustrating search for parking.

Is money tight and you’re doing this marathon on a budget?  Then economize by ditching most of the post-training run meals and beers with your buddies, and put the money you would have spent in a jar and save it for a hotel room.  Believe me, you’ll be glad you did.

Now if you have the option of staying with friends or relatives that can be a good money-saving alternative to a hotel, provided it is relatively close to the start of the race.  But if your hosts are not interested in what you are about to do, then your free lodging may be more of a nuisance for them, what with your needing to get to sleep early the night before, and then rummaging around early on a Saturday or Sunday morning.  Should that be the case, consider redeeming this "free room" for another non-running occasion.  Plus part of the fun of staying at a hotel is soaking up the energy of all of the other runners doing the same thing.

Final tip: if you have a long drive or flight ahead of you after the marathon, strongly consider staying over the night after the race if your schedule and pocketbook permit.  Not only will you not have to scramble to shower and pack to beat the hotel check-out deadline, but your sore and cramping legs will thank you for not having to be cooped up in a car or plane.

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