Setting New and Crazier Marathon Goals

Now that the end of my 50 states marathon quest is in sight (I’m on target to finish in Oregon at the Newport Marathon in May 2015), I’ve been thinking of other goals. Of course, they all involve travel, and those expenses add up. Here are some ideas I have for marathon goals beyond the 50 states.

The 7 Continents
There are actually a good number of marathoners who have completed a marathon on all 7 continents. I’ve done two: North America and Europe. Most of my marathons have been in North America, and two have been in Europe. Getting the other continents will require time, money and planning. I don’t expect to complete this goal any time soon, but it is a goal of mine with an open-ended timeline. 
Only 5 continents to go!
For Australia, there are several marathons to choose from, and I haven’t done any research yet. For Africa, there are also several marathons, and most of them require participating with a tour operator. One that I wanted to do, Haile Gebrselassie Marathon in Ethiopia, appears to have been a one-time gig and will not be repeated. So, I’m quite undecided here too. Asia is another matter; there are a handful of marathons that I’d love to do. The Great Wall of China Marathon is one of the top contenders because, well, wouldn’t that be awesome? Tokyo is also on the list as it is one of the World Marathon Majors. But I’ve been to Japan. I’ve never been to India, and really want to visit, so Mumbai Marathon is also on this list. Marathons in the final two continents are easier to decide upon, though not necessarily to finance. For Antarctica, there is the Antarctica Marathon, organized by Marathon Tours & Travel, which travels from Chile by ship and has a very high price tag. The other option for Antarctica is the White Continent Marathon, organized by competing Marathon Adventures, which travels from Chile by airplane, requires fewer days, and is less expensive. It’s also paired with a marathon in Chile called Punta Arenas Marathon, so it’s an opportunity to knock off two continents in a single trip. This is how I think I’d like to do Antarctica and South America.

Marathon Globetrotters
Marathon Globetrotters is a club of runners who run marathons in different countries. You need to have run in 5 countries to qualify as a Provisional Member, and 10 countries to qualify as a full, voting member. I’m currently at 3 countries.
My exciting new plan is to qualify for the club at their first annual reunion at the Marathon Bahamas in January. To do that, I will first need to run the Cayman Islands Marathon in December. These two trips will be long weekends using airline miles. I do not have a timeline on the next goal of qualifying as a Full Member. This goal can be combined with the 7 Continents goal and achieved later on.

Ohio Marathons
Since I’m originally from Ohio, I have a whimsical goal of running all of the major Ohio marathons. This one is also open-ended, so I’m not in a hurry. I’ve already run two: Columbus Marathon and Air Force Marathon. To complete this goal, I would consider it a minimum that I also run the Glass City Marathon in Toledo, Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon, Cleveland Marathon, Akron Marathon and the Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon in Canton. But where do I draw the line? There is also the Athens Marathon, the new Grand Lake Marathon, and several smaller road or trail marathons. The good thing about this goal is that I get to visit family and friends when I travel to Ohio for races. Lately, all of my races in Ohio have been half marathons, so I need to start running more fulls in my home state.
Still lots of Ohio cities I need to run in

Canadian Provinces
Scot has a goal to run marathons in all of the Canadian provinces, and so far he’s done two: Ontario and Nova Scotia. This has never been an important goal of mine, but why not do it so that we can travel and run together? For British Columbia I think the Vancouver Marathon would be a good pick, and for Quebec I’d like to do Quebec City Marathon. As for the others, I’m pretty wide open. I have no timeline for this goal; I'll just follow Scot around as he completes his provinces.
A large country full of marathons awaits me, should I choose to accept the challenge

World Marathon Majors
This goal might even be tougher than the 7 Continents goal because these are difficult marathons to get into. The series is made up of 6 world-class marathons in major cities around the world. Here’s where I stand on the 6 marathons of the World Marathon Majors.
Chicago Marathon – I just ran the 2014 Chicago Marathon (good time; race report will be posted soon), so I’m 1/6 of the way through he world marathon majors.
New York City Marathon – This is a difficult marathon to get into because more people want to run than there are slots. I applied for a lottery entry the last three years and was not accepted. Another way to be accepted is to raise a lot of money for one of the race’s official charities. For now, I will continue to play the lottery. Any given year, if either Scot or I is accepted, then we will consider doing fundraising so the other one of us can also run.

London Marathon – Scot and I entered the lottery for the first time for the 2015 race, and we were not accepted. Again, charity spots are available, but require a big fundraising commitment.

Boston Marathon – The traditional way to enter Boston is to run a fast qualifying time in another marathon. I’m not anywhere near the pace I would need to qualify by time, so I’d need to make a serious commitment to training if I were to enter via this route. Charity fundraising is also an option for Boston and does not require a fast time.

Tokyo Marathon – This race also has a lottery selection. I have never entered, and I've apparently missed the lottery deadline for the 2015 race. I don’t really know how hard it is to get in. But I do know that the travel expenses would be quite high, so it has not been a priority. Yet – this could count toward my 7 Continents goal.
Berlin Marathon – The 2014 Berlin Marathon was recent and I know some people who ran it. This is also a lottery entry, and it opens up this month. I'm on the email list, so I won't forget to enter the lottery for 2015.

Go Where My Clubs Go
Another way to choose marathons is to consistently register for races based on where my clubs hold their reunions. The Marathon Maniacs do one reunion a year, and since I’ve been a member, I’ve never participated. Two of the reunion races I did the year BEFORE they were chosen as the Maniac Reunion, and I tend to not repeat a lot of races.
The 50 States Marathon Club has at least one reunion race per quarter, and sometimes an extra, international reunion. I made it to the reunion meeting in 2012 at Route 66 Marathon, and I’m planning to be at the reunion at the 2014 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. I can try to choose more of the 50 States reunion races because they are usually well-run marathons and I’ll see lots of people I know there.

And after qualifying for the Marathon Globetrotters, I can plan to run at their annual reunion races. I'm starting off 1 for 1, making it to the first reunion in the Bahamas.

Getting Faster
This goal has nothing to do with location or racking up new states, provinces, countries or continents. This is a goal I need to fully develop for 2015. Because I have been focused on lots of travel and quantity of marathons from 2012-2014, my quality has suffered. I admire the marathoners who can have both quantity of marathons and fast times, and I know several of these folks, but so far this has not been me. Now that I’m almost done with my states, and all these other goals will be expensive and take longer to achieve, I plan to work on my speed in 2015. I will register for fewer marathons, and I will actually TRAIN in between the ones I do run. I will work on overall fitness as well as my pace. For 2015, I'm not even thinking of attempting to qualify for Boston; I will simply be happy to get back to where I was a couple years ago before my crazy running streak started, and to break my PR from June of 2012.

Question: How do you set your running goals? What are some of your most ambitious ones?


  1. I'm mostly pursuing countries. I haven't ruled out continents. I'm seriously considering the majors, since I'm only missing one.

    1. That's great that you only have one of the Majors to go. I'm going to find it hard to get into most of them, so I think it will take me a while.


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