As the idea for this race took shape in my head, I thought a lot about what options to offer for race distances. The simplest of course would be to simply pick the one distance and have the race completely focused on that. Another is to add some other, shorter options to make the race a little more inclusive, though diluted from a pure ultramarathon. There are plenty of 50 mile races that fall into either camp, but for my race I elected to go with the broader set of options. I decided to offer a half-marathon, marathon and 50 mile distance for participants to choose from.
A couple factors weighed on my decision to broaden the set of distance choices. Chico is a great town, but is most definitely not in a large, urban area so the pool of local participants is not enormous. I’m frankly not sure how many folks I’ll be able to recruit for the 50 mile option. Offering a marathon and a half-marathon will hopefully encourage some racers who might be otherwise on the fence for year one, and lead to even greater participation in the ultra distance in the years to come.
The course itself was also a consideration when looking at the distance options. The nature of the course is two loops in a “rabbit ears” arrangement, and each loop was easy to get to about 13 miles. This just calls out for the half/full/ultra combination and doesn’t require any weird modifications to a course to try and make the shorter options viable.
When everything comes together, I hope to strike a good balance between encouraging participation on the shorter distances and still making sure the race gets to shine with the 50 mile distance.
What do you think? When you have done races with single vs. multiple distance options, what do you find most appealing? I’d love to hear from you.