The description of the race course leaves me trembling
This out-and-back course is considered one of the most challenging in the United States. Starting at 5,280 feet, the elevation increases to 7,000 feet over the first seven miles, then down to 5,600 feet at the 13-mile turn around. The course is paved road for the first and last five miles, while the rest of the running route is a trail race on a dirt road maintained by the US Forest Service.I've run the half and it's a TOUGH course. Times that course by 2 and I'm not sure I have it in me to run serious hills for a marathon. Running Whiskey Row though does give me a break on not having to hit a specific time or get a BQ. The goal would be to finish the race in one piece with a smile on my face. Training for the race is in line with training for the SF Half Marathon I'm running in April. In order to be ready for the SF Half, I need hill training and to run a little more hills (eye roll on the little more hills) I could do Whiskey Row.
Orange County Marathon in Newport Beach, CA on the same weekend. If I run that race, I'm going for a BQ (Boston Qualifier). The course description sounds beautiful.
The first mile of the Marathon course includes a breathtaking panorama of the Pacific Ocean before winding through the seaside village of Corona del Mar including the spectacular Ocean Blvd. with cliff side views of Big Corona del Mar State Beach. It traverses down Bayside Drive, past the Newport Harbor Yacht Clubs and homes and boats of Newport Harbor. Exceptional views await runners at the bluffs overlooking the Upper Newport Bay Estuary Reserve as are the supportive cheers of neighborhood residents.But the race isn't without it's hills.
The Full Marathon course is net downhill in elevation from start to finish. The first 6.5 miles will be extremely fast with only minor inclines. Mile 6.5 to 7.0 is the only significant hill on the course taking the runners from 15 feet to 75 feet. The course is then mostly flat through mile 10.5 with a couple rolling hills to 11.5. There is another 45' incline at mile 14.5 over the 405 overpass and a 40' incline slightly over 1/4 of a mile in length at mile 23 after leaving Fairview Park. These are all relatively small hills.I love it when someone says it's a small hill. Is that a runner saying that? Or a person driving their car? When you're tired there is no "small" hill.
So my choice right now are two totally different races that would be run very differently. Whiskey Row is $80 through 4/14 and OC is $100 till 3/31 and then the prices increase.
I have some time to decide which one. In the meantime though I need to get hill training in and long runs. I ran 16 this morning in preparation for one of the races. The run went well except some knee issues the last three miles (IT band saying hello maybe? I think I'll tell it goodbye).
What are your thoughts? Go for the cheaper, hard, hilly race with fewer expectations or the flatter, more expensive course with hopes of getting another BQ?