Going LocalIn a continuing collaboration with Scott over at Straight to the Bar, we will be writing about some things that you might be able to do locally throughout the month of April. This week I will wrap things up by sharing some ways to find local races, especially inaugural races.

What is an inaugural race?

Inaugural races refer to the first time that a race is run. That could mean the first race in a series, but it usually refers to a race that has just been organized for the first time. Brand new races can sometimes be hard to find, but it can be worth it when you find a good one.

Why would you want to run an inaugural race?

The best reason to run a local inaugural race is so that you can become a streaker. If the race lasts, and many races don’t, then you can become one of the few people who have run in every single one year after year. After a decade or so, the race organizers will usually start recognizing the folks that have supported them year in and year out.

Another reason to run in an inaugural race is that it may not yet be very popular so it can give you a good opportunity to compete in a good race in a small crowd. That might mean that you can score an easy age group award or even set a course record, which is always worth bragging rights.

One thing to be aware of, though, is that races don’t always get things right in the first year. If the organizers are experienced then you won’t have anything to worry about, but you may want to arrive early and with plenty of your own amenities just in case it takes a long time to register or there isn’t adequate water or post-race refreshments.

How can you find an inaugural race?

There are a few ways to find out about them, and you can use these methods equally well to find out about established races if you aren’t sure what is in your area at any given time of the year.

  1. Join a local club, team or running group and make sure that you get their newsletters and are on their email lists. You’ll get notifications about new races and requests to volunteer pretty consistently. Up here, the Maine Track Club is very good about keeping its members informed of any upcoming races or volunteer needs.
  2. Keep an eye on your local USATF chapter. I keep track of both the New England and Maine websites and goings on. If you live outside of the United States then you will obviously want to follow your local governing organization instead.
  3. Visit a local running shoe store. They may have a bulletin board available for race directors to pin their flyers, and will at least advertise any races that they are involved with or are sponsoring.
  4. Go to other local races and always peruse the table set out for fliers belonging to other events. Any race director worth his salt is going to get his race onto the tables at as many other races as possible to drum up some interest. Especially in small local races, there usually aren’t any fees so it may be the only marketing that a new event will be able to afford to do.
  5. Subscribe to a local magazine (in my case, New England Runner) and keep an eye on the race calendars listed in the magazine. You can also check their websites. The bonus of subscribing to a regional magazine is that every month or two you can read about the local news and look for pictures of people you know or race against.
  6. Look for races on running websites such as MarathonGuide.com, , Active.com and similar sites to see what shows up near you on their calendars.
  7. Subscribe to Google Alerts for keywords about races in your area. For example, you might set up a weekly search for “races in Portland, Maine” for local races near me.
  8. Keep an eye out in your local newspaper for articles about new races. Most sports sections will list upcoming events on at least a weekly basis.
  9. Last but not least – ask fellow runners what they’ve heard of. Runners are a pretty chatty bunch, and if your running partners are starting their own races they might know somebody who is or have at least heard of a new race in your area.

So those are the methods that I use to find out about new races, or any races in my area. Sometimes they can be tough to find out about until after they have happened since new races tend to have small budgets and their is not usually a lot of word-of-mouth buzz around them.

Is there anything that I’ve missed that you think aught to be included on the list?

Leave a comment below.