Next Up, Unassisted Marathon?

In April of 2010 I ran my first marathon. It seemed like a big deal at the time. Then a guy moved into my neighborhood who was training for a 100 mile run. He would go out and do 30, 40, and 60 mile “training” runs. Somehow doing a marathon doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. Marathons are the new 5K.

This year I focused on speed and did three sprint triathlons. A friend invited me to participate in the Las Vegas marathon in December, and I thought that sounded like a nice way to end the year without interfering with anything else. But then I got to thinking, “Why bother?” I don’t mean why bother running a marathon, but why bother paying the $175 entry fee, driving 6 hours to Vegas, paying $100 for a hotel, running, driving 6 hours back, all for a medal, t-shirt, and some snacks? Is it really worth upwards of $400 and two days of time? Plus I’d prefer to do it a different weekend, and I’m not a fan of the strip in Las Vegas. I was just there for a trade show and if I could avoid ever going back I would. I’m just not into that scene.

Now, if I were running to qualify for Boston, that would be a different situation. Or if the marathon were a mere hour drive away, and cost $80, that would also be a different situation. But given the time, expense, and lack of alternatives, I started wondering whether or not I shouldn’t just run my own unassisted marathon. After all, what do I really need, especially in the winter?

On my first marathon I had the need for two things; 1) a potty, and 2) liquids. Using the restroom at the beginning and end of the “event” isn’t an issue, since I’d be at home. And along the course I would most likely run there is a park with a restroom, so I’d have that halfway spot as well. And then there’s my secret spot right where…well, we won’t go there. Or at least you won’t. So I think the matter of the potty can easily be taken care of. As far as liquids, how much do I really need? On a warm day I might need more than I could feasibly carry, but this will be in December/January, so it seems like I could carry enough in my hydration belt. Plus there is water at the park (although it might be turned off in the winter). Worst case scenario, I can go plant water along the running trail right before I start running, so that it won’t freeze or get too cold. So that issue seems like it can be taken care of fairly easily as well.

So let’s see…I get to sleep at home in my own bed, I can start whenever I want, I can choose the date, I save $400 and 2-3 days of travel…where’s the downside to this plan?

If you’ve run an unassisted marathon, or do training runs that are longer than marathon distance, what tips do you have?

Now, you might be thinking “Why not do unassisted triathlons?” Some people do, but I see more value in paying to do a triathlon. There’s something to be said for having someone put buoys in the water and save you from drowning. There’s something to be said about having a transition area. There’s something to be said about having traffic control for the bike portion. But when  you’re just running and nothing else, and it’s during the cooler part of the year, I don’t see the attraction in paying for a marathon, unless it’s for charity, or you’re trying to qualify for something else. Or, unlike me, you might be a social animal who likes to run with other people. I’m not super anti-social, but I like having some “alone” time when I work out and time to listen to audiobooks.

  • http://www.triedge.net bob

    I’ve ran 20 unassisted before along with several 100+ mile rides. No biggie….

  • https://fatandthefurious.wordpress.com/ Terry

    Sure, why not? I’ve done and it went fine. However, part of the thrill of any endurance event (for me) is the opportunity to run along an unknown route and experience something for the first time while I’m out doing, hence the locale and scenery is a factor for me while choosing any race venue. This can be easily rectified though if you Google out a route somewhere near you that you haven’t run before…new country roads, a different near-by city, what have you. you can plant your water and plan for your toilet breaks, etc. That way there is something to look forward to rather than just running the same route you already run a thousand times before. Just food for thought.

  • http://www.racespy.com RaceSpy

    It been 3 1/2 years since I was 250 lbs. I am now 185 have completed 2 half iron distance events 2 olympic distances and over a dozen sprints. I am currently training for my first IRONMAN. Is it needless to say I love this sport. It has helped me keep my bad eating habits in check and I have met so many good people with a healthy attitude. I race because I enjoy it – it is now a part of who I am. People call me a athlete which I never was when I was younger.

    Keep the focus and the desire and any goal can be achieved.