Thursday, July 2, 2009

Which is the Better Race?

Last night after the recording of The Runner's Roundtable podcast ended, I stayed on the line to talk to Chris Russell. I asked him "when are you coming down to New York to run the best marathon in the world?" Chris laughed and replied "the best marathon in the world isn't in New York." For those of you that don't know Chris, he's a New Englander, so I can only surmise that he thinks Boston is the better race.

That's right fellow readers, I'm taking the Boston/New York rivalry to the next level. We've got, Yankees/Red Sox, Rangers/Bruins, and Giants/Jets/Patriots. It's time to add the marathon to the mix:

 Which is the better race?



Anonymous said...

Interesting question. Boston Marathon is more prestigious for sure, but a better race, not so sure about that.

I'm not at all familiar with the Boston course, and we've all heard of "Heartbreak Hill", but I don't know how much I can respect how 'tough' a race is that starts at 450 ft and ends at 0 ft. Also, Boston is run on state highways, much of which is in the middle of nowhere. Can't beat running through the streets of New York City all the way, with the bridges, and the hills of Central Park, in the fall, at the end.

I hope to run Boston someday, so I can do a true comparison. I WILL NOT, though, run with a charity. I feel that it is cheating. Running for charity is a great thing, but there are plenty of races where you an do that - don't do it at Boston. Running Boston is something you earn. Of course, that is another question altogether...

Robert James Reese said...

Interesting question...

I've never run either so I can't say for sure (I'm running Boston this spring, but still am not fast enough to qualify for NYC and haven't been successful with the lottery so far) but I have spectated at both and I feel like there's more energy in Boston so I'd have to give them the edge. I mean, it has it's own holiday and everything (I know Patriot's Day is not about the marathon, but it ends up being that way...) and the whole city seems to just sort of shut down for the race. It's definitely a big deal here, but it just doesn't seem the same intensity.

Let's just be clear though -- In every other regard NYC is incalculably better than Boston. Go Jets! Go Yanks!

Anonymous said...

I can't say. I've only done NY and have no intention of doing Boston. I can sleep in my bed, leave home at 6:45, and be back by 3. Nice wide start, tons of spectators, my wife and siblings, great volunteers, nice course. What's not to like?

The Laminator said...

Very thought-provoking question.

I've done both, NYC in2005,2007,2008 and Boston in 2009, so it's especially relevant to me.

I think the obvious answer to that question is that it depends on the criteria you use to judge "better". In the context of more historical, prestigious, and national acclaim, I would say that Boston is the better race, but it terms of culture, tradition, rock star status, and diversity, New York wins hands-down.

Although like most of you, I also live in the city and so am biased in thinking that NYCM is the one race to run if you had to choose one marathon to do, I can't fault anyone for thinking Boston is "better" either.

To me, it's a bit like comparing apples and oranges.

Sorry if you think my answer is a cope-out, but i doubt there can be an objective answer to such a subjective question...

Great question though.

One Track Runner said...

I think if you ask 1,000 runners who have run both courses, you will get 1,000 different answers.

I have run four NYCM and two Boston between 2004 and 2008.
If I were to consider only my race day experiences and results, I would have to cast my vote for the NYCM.

Then, I am probably biased because I ran Boston in 2007, the year of the noreaster.
I have never had bad weather in the four NYCM I have run between 2004 and 2007.

If you're the kind or runner who gets a shot of adrenaline from cheering crowds, then you will choose NYC.
There is nothing that compares.
Boston has a few loud spots, most notably the "scream tunnel" at mile 13; Wellesley college, and at the finish.

In NYC, the only places that aren't loud are the start on the VZ, a short industrial section of Queens just before, and then the Queensboro bridge. As a matter of fact, that deafening silence on the bridge is kind of eerie, especially in 2007 when there were no lights because of construction.
But that's just the calm before the storm.. First Avenue!

For difficulty, I have to rate Boston higher, simply because I had a rough time in both the races I ran.
I don't think I was ever as tired after a race (except maybe the Dutchess County Classic in Poughkeepsie NY) as I was in 2008, after I thought I had trained so well for the race.

Of course Boston has the prestige, and the history. But New York has the culture.
Nowhere on this planet do you get as vast a cultural experience as you do in NYC.

I would certainly not refuse an opportunity to run another NYC or Boston. Hell, why not run them both!

I Love Your Whole Face said...

Def NYC. (though I haven't run Boston)

NYC is just an amazing race. There are spectators throughout the entire 26 miles. They are amazing too. screaming and cheering you on. So fantastic.

Plus you get a great view of the city. Only downside is the ridic wait on Staten Island to start.

Best race of my life!