Destination Marathons or Walking Vacations
It may sound like an oxymoron, marathon and vacation in the same sentence,
but many participants are looking at marathons that offer a complete
package, one that takes into account that event participants have families
and interests beyond the actual event.
What is a family friendly marathon you ask? Quite simply it's an event
that takes into account the whole family, appealing to all different
ages and skills of competitors. It may provide a location that provides
great siteseeing and shopping. More and more marathons are combining
the demanding marathon run for serious competitors, with half marathons,
walking events, 10k and 5k run/walks; kid runs and diaper dashes, even
doggie runs, not to mention the on-course entertainment.
first marathons were all about the hard core athlete, but as America
has become more health conscience, and now even into the European scene,
the marathon is reflecting this movement towards health, said
Dr. William Burke, president of the Los Angeles Marathon for two decades
and now the New Las Vegas Marathon. He believes the activities surrounding
the marathon should also reflect this new movement towards a healthier
lifestyle, and should aim to include the entire family.
another important reality facing event planners. The population of marathoners
has changed over the last decade. Rather than hanging up the marathon
all together, many hardcore runners are transitioning into slower runners
or walkers as they mature. It's less stressful on their bodies and they
can still keep a competitive edge. Younger runners are getting into
the act as a way to raise money for important causes. Nonprofit foundation-run
events accommodate their participants with plenty of water and aid stations,
as well as restroom facilities, as walkers and slower runners are on
the course longer and need more support. Planners who recognize this
reality reap the rewards of larger turn-outs.
marathon is the ultimate fitness test. Marathons now have spouses, children,
and whole families competing on their own level, Burke says.
a kid element has been an important part of making their
events family friendly according to P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona
Marathon spokesperson Susan Reid. We have a Kids Rock program,
sponsored by the local Phoenix Children's Hospital, that works with
area schools to create a training program where children can run a mile
each day (or week) leading up to the marathon. The kids then run the
final mile of the marathon on race day. The event is open to all
children (ages 6 to 12), whether local or traveling out of town. Getting
the family involved is all about health and fitness.
to Consider When Choosing a Destination
Another option, if you're interested in
the fitness of walking but not in need of an actual event you
might consider a vacation organized around great locations. There
are companies that specialize in organizing a trip around walks
that incorporate local culture, history, and siteseeing.
Walking Connection, owned by Gene and Jo Ann Taylor, has made
it its business to find great trips that incorporate scenic spots,
great walks, and hikes worldwide. It is dedicated to supporting
the walker. One of the most valuable services it provides is putting
you in touch with local walking groups and resources through its
nationwide walking connections links and newsletters. It has a
page for each state to link you to walking and hiking groups,
training support, local road and weather conditions, and other
newest program is Conquer the Canyon which partners
with nonprofit organizations to provide three to four months of
intense training and culminates in a hiking adventure in the Grand
Canyon. Over five thousand people visit the canyon every
year. The average person spends only 18 minutes viewing this wonder.
Our program is specifically targeted to train people to experience
the Grand Canyon first hand, remarks Gene Taylor.
Walking Adventures International is another company that specializes
in putting together vacations by weaving together great
walks, sightseeing excursions, and cultural experiences in a growing
list of worldwide destinations.
these trip planners is also ideal if you are traveling alone but
want to have the support of people with similar interests in walking
and exploring. Tyler Burgess of Walk With Me Tours books small
intimate groups to walk in various locations throughout Europe
as well as New York City, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.
of what you choose you can be assured you will return invigorated
and relaxed. Walking is a multi-sensory activity, one that stimulates
the brain and the body, creating an experience that will stay
with you long after the suitcase is unpacked and the pictures
a number of things to think about when choosing a marathon. The first,
of course, is location. What does the location offer that will appeal
to your family? If you have young children with boundless energy, then
a trip to San Diego, with its miles of beaches, the world-famous San
Diego Zoo and Seaworld Adventure Park might be the perfect match to
with the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in June.
important consideration is the season. The time of year that the event
is planned makes a difference in the activities that will surround the
event. The Lake Tahoe Marathon in October offers breathtaking views
above and around the lake besides an entire week of events: kid runs,
walking events, swims, bike races, kayak and paddling events and extreme
or speed golf. The Seattle Marathon is scheduled on Thanksgiving weekend
giving participants the perfect opportunity to meet up with relatives,
with a little holiday shopping in Seattle to kick off the season. Or
consider the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon and half marathon
in January. Winters are beautiful in the desert suitable for
golf, tennis, hiking or a side trip to see the Red Rocks of Sedona or
the majestic Grand Canyon
question to ask, What am I going to do after the race? There
are several marathons focused on turning the event into a full weekend
of festivities. Event producer Elite Racing has mastered the concept
with its series of rock 'n' roll races held in destinations such as
Nashville, the Valley of the Sun (Arizona), and San Diego. Each event
features a headliner concert the evening of the race in addition to
its celebratory finish line festival. Many events include concerts,
art shows, and other special attractions. In Las Vegas this year, kids
and adults will love participating in the first ever Santa run, down
the strip, donning their free Santa costumes, hoping for an entry into
the Guinness Book of World records.
important thing to look at is transportation and lodging. Can the location
handle the increase in population that the event will bring? Is there
access to adequate accommodation and transportation? Most cities offer
discounts for participants at hotels, motels, and car rentals. Often
there are special discounts with the sponsoring airlines that fly into
the area. Look for events that have a proven track record. Salt Lake
City, which hosted the Olympics, has already tested its ability to accommodate
increased visitors, with more than 30,000 hotel rooms within 90 minutes
of the city's international airport, with 17,000 rooms in Salt Lake
County and nearly 8,000 in the downtown area. Salt Lake City is an excellent
destination, hiking, water sports, and shopping.
Valley of the Sun, which hosted the Super Bowl in 1996 is another location
ready for an influx of visitors, with more than 55,000 hotel rooms in
Phoenix, Scottsdale, and the Tempe area. With luxury accommodations
the greater Phoenix area has become the top hotel destination in the
United States according to a recent Zagat survey of frequent travelers.
a Walker Friendly Venue
This isn't as difficult as it used to be. More events have recognized
that walkers represent a larger percentage of the population besides
a bigger piece of the profit.
to point out that accommodating slower runners and walkers doesn't make
a marathon any less competitive. The Seattle and Portland marathons,
which have been long-time walker friendly events, are still qualifying
runs for the Boston and other important competitive events. Portland
has repeatedly been voted the most walker friendly event as reported
in Runners World.
of our events are walker friendly; we encourage walkers by providing
generous time standards and treating them with the same attention and
respect as runners. The bands keep playing until the last walker has
walked through. Every participant receives the same
positive reception, Reid says.
is your passion, but you don't have a family, there are plenty of groups
that will train with you, plan your trip, and attend the event with
you. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training and American
Stroke Association's Train to End Stroke and the Arthritis Foundations
Joints in Motion are just a few of the groups that build around families
through their team training, coaching, and fundraising for important
causes. Each training program offers fabulous destinations year-round,
giving participants a variety of choices for future vacations.