Picking a date can be a challenge for any big event in our lives. For that matter, even just getting a couple friends together for a night at the movies can become a scheduling nightmare. So when faced with picking a date for my race, I had to weigh a lot of factors.
Everyone wants the perfect race weather. Not too hot, not too cool. Not too wet, not too windy. And Chico definitely has a lot of perfect weather days over the course of a year. The trick, as always, is finding a balance between the average weather conditions, and the high/low extremes. I’m putting on a trail race, so I don’t want too much chance of heavy rain and a risk of trail closures. On the other hand, the terrain is very exposed, so I don’t want to aim for high summer where there is zero chance of rain, but guaranteed triple digit temps. So, Spring or Fall become the target seasons. Easily 4-6 months out of the year to choose from. Easy, right? But I’m not the only one putting on a race…
Trail races continue to grow in popularity. While there isn’t anything exactly like mine in Chico, I don’t want to overlap too closely with similar races in the area. I’m hoping to draw folks from out of town, and that means not forcing too many conflicts with other runs they’re hoping to do. We have a 50k in nearby Red Bluff in April, and the finish of the Western States 100, which takes place the last weekend in June, is less than two hours drive away. Throw another half-dozen 50k and 50 mile races in the Spring and early summer season, and things start to get crowded in a hurry.
So now I’ve narrowed my choices considerably. One more limiting factor on the calendar: holidays. Turns out, Spring is also the time for things like Memorial Day and Father’s Day. No law that says you can’t hold a race then, but since my goal is to encourage participation I don’t want to make people choose between heading out of town with the family and my event.
So I’ve got all those factors plugged into the date picker. Just one catch: if you need to reserve an area for the start and finish festivities it needs to be available. For me, the area I’m looking at is a fairly popular spot, and when the weather is nice is exactly when you get the most competition for space.
So, how did it all work out for me? I went with Saturday, June 6th, 2015. The average high temperature is in the mid 80s. There are a small number of local and semi-local events. It skips all the nearby holidays (including the Chico State graduation… pay attention to local events that are practically holidays!). And the space I need is available. All in all, it looks like a win!
One interesting post script: As I write this blog entry on June 12th, the forecast high for the day 84 degrees. There was even a cool breeze for several hours while I was on my morning run. Perfect! And what was the weather a few days ago? 102 degrees. We may very well have a post in the future on preparing for an extremely hot weather race.