Friday, September 4, 2009

Oaktown Runs

Oakland will put on a marathon next spring, which is very cool. A quick look at the rudimentary map revealed this week suggests it will be a course with some challenges, which got me thinking about the marketing considerations that go into drawing up a city marathon route. Obviously, organizers want to show off their community's best assets and the hills are certainly a large and beautiful part of Oakland. So it makes perfect sense that the course feature some significant ups and downs. At the same time, it has to be acknowledged that this will make the race less attractive to those runners (and there are many) in search of "flat and fast" for PR/PB and BQ purposes. The California International Marathon in Sacramento each December, for instance, has always leaned heavily on its runner-friendly elevation profile in promoting itself. And though I can't say definitively that it was a consideration when the Portland course was drawn up, I notice that my home-town race is pretty darn flat, despite the city's bumpy topography.

(And speaking of marketing, it would sure be nice if the Oakland Marathon made its map clickable to enlarge and put it on MapMyRun, GoogleEarth, etc. I mean, how hard could that be?)

UPDATE: Working with that lousy map, I drew the Oakland course on MapMyRun. It isn't perfect, as the fact that I was at 25.8 miles when I got to the apparent finish line attests. But it's very, very close, and captures the elevation profile damn well. Here's that profile (click to enlarge):

As you can see, that's a hefty bit of climbing in the first eight miles, from about 50 feet elevation at the start to some 600 feet around Mile 8. Especially noteworthy is the half-mile or so stretch just after Mile 5, where you climb maybe a couple hundred feet. Then comes the quad busting descent from Miles 9-13. Oh, yeah: Gonna be some fried quads on the second half of this marathon. All that said, the course looks like a blast. I bet I do it!

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