A week after Paris-Roubaix weekend, a bit less famous, yet way more crowded, race starts in West Michigan. Called Barry-Roubaix, and claiming to be a most popular gravel cycling event in the US, it attracts gravel cyclists from all of the Midwest region.
Held in March in previous years and infamous for its unpredictably bad weather (and gravel) conditions, it was moved to mid-April this year and attracted almost 4,000 cyclists to the town of Hastings (population 7,500), where they raced in 100, 62, 36 and 18 mile distances on the rolling hills and gravel of the Barry County.
The Chicago Marathon usually held mid-October, is one of the six marathons from the Abbott World Marathon Majors series. It is one of the easiest to get into, with ballot chances close to 50% and generous qualifying times – to qualify for 2020, it was 3:20 for men, 3:50 for women in the 40-49 age group.
Its course is remarkably flat, and albeit it may be really windy, you can use it for your own good if applying smart racing tactics and set your Personal Best, earn a good amount of points for the AbbottWMM Wanda Age Group World Rankings, and get one star closer to the coveted Six-Star Finisher medal.
Berlin Half, Berlin Half-marathon, Generali Berliner Halbmarathon – doesn’t matter how you call it, this 21K race is a great opportunity to start your racing season. Held in Germany’s capital and sharing a big part of the course with one of the World Marathon Majors – Berlin Marathon – it is supposed to be flat, fast, very well organized and usually in good weather, as in the middle of April spring is already in full swing in Berlin. That’s one of the reasons why it’s sold out as early as February, so better sign up well in advance, get the training plan and start preparing.
Back in December 2017, when preparing to run Boston Marathon myself, I found an extremely interesting article (in fact, it’s an article series) called How to Pace like an Elite in Boston, written by a data scientist, professor Barry Smyth. It covered pacing analysis of elites, amateurs who reached PR, and not-so-successful runners and provided recommendations on how to pace yourself in this coveted race.
Update, November 2018: I’ll return to Boston on 2019, however this time as a coach. One of my athletes is training for the event using my marathon training program and has high hopes of setting her new PR by hitting 3:10:00.
I won’t be bothering you with a long story on how I wished to qualify Boston, how much did I train for running sub-3:00 etc. It’s enough for you to know that if you would like to run the Boston Marathon, you must run an AIMS certified marathon (even such a small country as mine has two of them) and your time should be somewhat 5 minutes faster than the age group requirement. Unfortunately, if you will barely fit your age group time, most probably you won’t make it; Boston Marathon in 2018 required to run around 3 minutes faster than a time required for qualification.