My long run pace is fairly slow (defined by me as greater than or equal to a 13+ minute pace, depending on the distance). For runners like me, it can be difficult to find races that are back-of-pack friendly. I often fear that the finish line will close before I get there, meaning that I won’t get a registered time. I also get a bit scared that I may lose my way on the course and get lost.
One of the first things I look up before registering for a race is the time limit. This is important because if you run 26.2 miles, there is an expectation that the finish line chute is still set up and that you’ll get your medal, snacks, medical attention, etc. Some races are friendlier than others, so I figured that I’d list some of the ones where I had a great experience. Slow runners should stay off the side of the road for safety purposes. Try not to walk or run in the middle of the course, unless everyone is very spread apart.
I don’t think running slow is all that bad. I actually stop for photos, take walk breaks, enjoy my snacks without stomach aches, drink water without coughing it up, etc. In racing and in life, the true winners take the longest to finish!
For longer races, I think it’s better to be slightly undertrained than it is to be overcooked. But that’s my non-professional opinion. Your results may vary!
A note: these time limits are enforced after the last runner crosses the start line. That means that if you start in the middle of the pack, you get a bit of bonus time 🙂 I do not recommend jumping corrals in races because the faster runners might elbow you accidentally or you’ll get a lot of people buzzing by around you. I’ve had that happen to me and I typically torch my leg muscles before the hard part even begins.
So, here are some recommended races for slower runners that I have personally attended:
- Disney World Marathon: 7 hour time limit. I have seen people get swept before, but with the right training and start corral, I think this can be mitigated. Running at Disney gives a little bit of an energy boost to be honest!
- Ruidoso Half Marathon: 4 hour time limit. So they really don’t leave any runners behind here. However, this course is VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY hilly, so run at your own risk. They have a sweeper truck behind the last person the entire way. Although there is a 4-hour time limit, with the right training you too can hang out right in front of the bumper of the sweeper truck like me. (If you decide to pull out of the race part way, I suggest the Inn of the Mountain Gods resort or just hitching a ride in the truck.)
- Texas Double: No time limit. I’ve used this race for Dopey/Goofy simulations, since it lines up with the 13 + 26 mile weekends. They don’t really have a time limit. The course is looped around Bachman Lake in Dallas. Aid stations are a’plenty.
- Hot Chocolate 15K races: 15-minute per mile pace. These are very friendly races with course support all the way through to the finish. Finish line snacks are ticketed, so they will not run out. Great photographers all along the course to capture your majestic finish line pic.
- Rock n Roll San Diego Marathon: 7 hour time limit. There’s quite a few hills but with every uphill comes a downhill. I trot the uphills and try to gun the downhills (with exception of the hill right outside of Balboa Park). You are able to make up a fair amount of time on the downhills. Beware CA-163 though. That highway is a little rough on the ankles, so make sure you try to pick a good spot on the road to run.
- Rock n Roll Arizona Full Marathon: 7 hour time limit (4 hour time limit for half marathon). This course is pancake flat and is very scenic. There are long gradual uphills that you won’t notice much. Great weather but very little shade.
- Breckenridge Road Marathon or Half: both have a 7 hour time limit. Beware of running at elevation though! Coming from Denver, it wasn’t bad, but if you’re coming from sea level you might need a few days to acclimate.
- Los Angeles Marathon: 6 hours 30 minute time limit. This one is a little aggressive for me to be honest. I think I was closer to 6:45 or 7:00 but because I started mid-pack I was still able to finish in time.
- Louisiana Marathon or Half: 7 hour time limit for both. This race is wonderful and has a fantastic finish line feast that will stay open for a long time. Both omnivore and vegetarian friendly food await you!
- Honolulu Marathon: no time limit. There was a lively finish line festival and tons of snacks and food, even with my 9+ hour finish time. The “slowest” runner out there finished in 17 hours and it was still raging.
- Go Short, Go Long, Go Very Long 50K: Their 50K boasts a 9 hour 30 min time limit. I finished in 9:24 and their arch and timing mat was still working. A nice flat course and it is fairly scenic too!
Races that I’ve heard have a generous time limit but I’ve not yet experienced myself:
- Any of the MainlyMarathons races: no time limit (except for 50K distances)
- Little Rock Marathon: 8 hour time limit
- Space Coast Marathon: 7 hour time limit