Monday, February 13, 2012

Chicago Marathon MANIA

This past week the Chicago Marathon filled up in just about one week.  My friend Mike, who writes for Bloomberg news (and is a 10:20 Ironman in his FIRST Ironman) wrote a great article here.

Combine the crazy increases in race entry fees fueled by "bucket listers" and you get a closed race in no time.  This is both good and bad.

Good - races will take more planning to give the value and "customer experience", small, local races will get more entrants boosting grass roots races, you can demand better from races - better courses, better swag bags, better perks.

Bad - race fees will go up with demand, you may get shut out of races.

One (several) thing(s) for sure...

  1. I refuse to pay entry fees over what is "reasonable" to run the race.
  2. I'll support races that are well put together versus crappy convenient races.
  3. I'll avoid (and encourage others to avoid) garbage races that are unsafe.
On a positive note, the fees in New York have kicked a lot of people into action for other races like Chicago and the coaching industry just got a lot busier - I have 25 people as of today in my Chicago Marathon training program.


  1. Thanks for the shoutout Bob. It will be interesting to see where this all goes in a few years. When will the tipping point be reached?

  2. Bob: Great posts! However, I just have a question regarding all the additional business for coaches. It seems to me there is too much emphasis put on getting coached these days. Most athletes would be much better served just simply doing some actual training. Additionally, it seems there are many coaches out there who claim success but do not have the qualifications to coach. I for one have been looking for a coach, but when I come accross a coach who claims they are knowledgable only to find them MOP at best. It is hard to trust their judgement. I welcome your advice.


    1. Hi Ralph - I think you have a great point in that most athletes just need to get out there and do some actual intelligent training. Where the difference comes in with a coach (or an objective reviewer of their training with the influence to call BS on them) - a certified coach has a base of experience and is required to get training regulated by the sport's governing bodies.

      Some of the best coaches are not great athletes. Look at Lou Holtz - 5' 6" and 130 lbs, but coached the Univ of Notre Dame to a national title in football. If you look at results to judge your coach you may miss out on a great coach. I'd also encourage you to interview coaches. See if they have the background you require. My first coach had MOP results for his division, but was an outstanding coach. When he retired, I looked for another coach who was very similar in personality and experience. My coaching "talent" is not in my "racing". It is getting results from my athletes and transferring the knowledge from classes and experiences that I've had over time to them. Many top athletes cannot explain what they do and why. If you want, you really could nit pick every coach out there for something.

      This is what is great about this industry - there are a ton of really good coaches and personalities. Find the one that works for you. Jimmy Riccitello said it well in some of his recent blog entries, "There is more than one way to skin a cat."

      At the very least, get someone who can look at your training numbers with a base of experience that knows when to push you and when to make you rest. Understanding when to do that makes all the difference in your performance. Most athletes don't understand when to push and when to relax- they are too close to their own performance. Additionally, US athletes seem to go too hard too often.

      Good luck in your pursuit of a coach.

  3. Hi Mike - The registration and demand on races is changing. It does cost a lot to put on a race in a big city. It should be interesting.

  4. Bob, a friend of mine is looking for a coach to help him train for IM AZ in 2013. I thought of passing your name on to him but a swimming buddy of mine told me you might be taking a break from coaching this fall and starting you MBA at Notre Dame and will not be in town much? Can you let me know?. Thanks, Chris

  5. Hi Chris - I am not planning on taking any break from coaching. Whoever told you that doesn't know me at all.