Cami Ostman is a licensed marriage and family therapist with publications in her field. She currently runs between twenty and forty miles each week as part of her own commitment to fitness and self-discovery. In her quest to run a marathon on every continent, she has been featured in several publications, including the Mudgee Guardian in Australia, The Bellingham Herald in Washington State, La Prensa in Chile, the November 2010 issue of Fitness Magazine and the January 2011 issue of the Oprah Magazine. She completed her seventh continental marathon by running in Antarctica in March 2010 and continues to participate in marathons. Cami lives in Bellingham, Washington.
View a video of Cami describing her book.
Six Tips for Choosing Your First Marathon
BELLINGHAM, WA – October 1, 2010 – Marathon running is hot right now. It seems everybody knows someone who is training for his or her first 26.2-mile race. Having planted her running shoes on every continent of Planet Earth, author, family therapist and back-of-the-pack marathoner, Cami Ostman, knows how important it is to choose the perfect first race in order to ensure a positive experience.
“I’ve been lost in the woods on courses, missed turns and even participated in races that ran out of water for those of us at the tail end of the pack. When you’re running your first or second race, you have to pick the right one or you’ll get discouraged and it’ll be your last,” says Ostman, author of Second Wind: One Woman’s Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathon on Seven Continents. “If you choose a race that’s really set up to accommodate the slow pokes and the newcomers, you’ll have a good experience and, perhaps, fall in love with the marathon as I have.”
Ostman suggests six questions to ask when choosing your first marathon:
- How many hours is the course open? Some marathons have cutoff times after which the course closes down. There would be nothing worse than doing the work of training to run 26.2 miles and discovering at the finish line that the port-o-potties have been taken away, and there are no volunteers left to wave you in. Be sure the race you choose is open for six or more hours. If you’re walking the race, make sure the course you pick is walker-friendly and is open for at least seven or eight hours.
- What does the race offer in the way of support and accolades? If you’re a first timer or a back-of-the-packer (finishing in 4:45 or longer), the number of volunteers and water stations on the course is important. You’ll want to find a race with water available no more than three miles apart. You’ll also want to choose a race that gives you a medal and a shirt! If you’re not likely to place and be recognized in your age group, you’ll want those mementos to give you the pat on the back you need at the beginning of your running career.
- What does the course look like? It’s pretty awful to have to run past the finish line and watch others completing the race while you still have two hours of running left. Be sure to choose an out-and-back, a single loop or a point-to-point course instead of a double loop (which trots you past the fast finishers as they celebrate and stretch). Also, be sure the elevation gain and loss on the course is something you have trained for and can handle.
- How many participants will the race have? Some people like to choose the mega races with 25,000 runners or more for their first go. That may make it tough for your family and friends to find you in the crowd at mile 16, for example, when you most need their moral support to keep going. On the other hand, a small race (say, less than 150) may mean you won’t be able to see other runners in front or behind you. You could get lost or discouraged under those lonely circumstances. Choose a race with between 500 and 2000 for your first foray. Your people can find you, but you’ll never be alone.
- How old is the race? New races haven’t worked out the kinks. Choose one that has at least five years under its belt.
- How much does it cost? Marathons are big business nowadays, but a larger entry fee doesn’t necessarily mean better organization or support. You can find a great race for between $50 and $60. Remember, too, that the cost goes up closer to the race date, so get your registration in early.
Second Wind: One Woman’s Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continents chronicles Cami Ostman’s journey from casual jogger to marathon enthusiast as she gets to know herself and her strength in a new way. The book offers inspiration to others who think of themselves as non-athletic and encourages readers to take on a “can do” attitude in their own endeavors.
To learn more about the book, have a listen to Cami Ostman’s interview with KUGS (Bellingham 89.3) production director, Gina Cole.