There is truly no better to time to train for a marathon than the dead of winter. All those miles in the freezing cold keep seasonal weight gain--and more importantly, Seasonal Affective Disorder--far, far away. By the time spring break rolls around, you've got a killer bod and the stamina to survive early heat waves. I've run exactly 3 spring 'thons in my career, including Saint Louis twice and the Oceanfront race in Cape May, New Jersey, so I speak with authority on this. A long, slow 16-miler in the middle of February goes so much farther than any New Year's resolution gym membership ever will. Yes, it requires a certain degree of insanity and more resilience than you think you possess, but when you get out there on the icy highway shoulder with nothing between you and the elements but your Airbuds, you will feel so free and happy.
To that end, here are my recommendations for Spring 2017 marathons, as well as the days on which you should begin 16-week training programs for each.
- DESTIN MARATHON...Destin, FL...April 16, 2017. Start training now. If you don't mind an abbreviated training period, sign up for this one-year-old race in one of Florida's best resort towns. After a long winter, you'll welcome the humid course conditions.
- BOSTON MARATHON...Boston, MA...April 17, 2017. Start training now. It wouldn't be a spring race calendar without the O.G. American 26.2. If you've qualified, go for it. If not, join the cheer squad with the rest of us amateurs.
- COASTAL DELAWARE RUNNING FESTIVAL...Dewey Beach, DE...April 23, 2017. Start training this Sunday. Spectacular views and mild spring weather give this little race big points.
- KENTUCKY DERBY FESTIVAL MARATHON...Louisville, KY...April 29, 2017. Start training on December 31. Come to run through Churchill Downs a week before the ponies arrive; stay for the juleps (obviously).
- BIG SUR INTERNATIONAL MARATHON...Carmel, CA...April 30, 2017. Start training on January 1. Make this one a full-scale vacation with wine-tasting, sky-diving and sailing post-race.
- FLYING PIG MARATHON...Cincinnati, OH...May 7, 2017. Start training on January 8. The Flying Pig is famous among serious runners so expect lots of elites, enthusiastic spectators and a post-race street festival to celebrate your finish.
- EUGENE MARATHON...Eugene, OR...May 7, 2017. Start training on January 8. This course won't get you into Boston 2018, but it's gorgeous nonetheless. Plus, the chance to race in Tracktown USA is a draw in itself.
- RHINEBECK HUDSON VALLEY MARATHON...Rhinebeck, NY...May 13, 2017. Start training on January 15. Don't expect big crowds at this little resort-town race, either on the course or the sidelines. Do expect stunning views of the Catskill Mountains and lots of diversions for the days before and after.
- SURFER'S PATH MARATHON...Santa Cruz, CA...May 21, 2017. Start training on January 22. This itty-bitty event is not a Boston qualifier, but you won't care while running its sandy, sparsely-populated course that stays true to its name.
- COEUR D'ALENE MARATHON...Coeur d'Alene, ID...May 28, 2017. Start training on February 5. Come for the 2,200-feet elevation, and stay for the fireworks. This town is famous for its Rocky Mountain lakefront resorts, and for very good reason. Cool down at the eponymous resort's spa.