By Suman Silwal
First Posted at birminghamtrackclub.com
Fall is a great time to run in North America. The cooler weather makes it one of the perfect seasons to run a marathon. Over the years, I have run many big city marathons such as Chicago, Toronto, New York City, and the Marine Corps Marathon as my first fall marathon. I love the big city experiences that they can bring to this southern runner.
Every year, I try to put at least one early fall marathon in my race calendar. I do not want to miss any opportunity training during the humid, slow days of summer in which I can log most of my training miles. After the hot summer months of training, the subsequent cooler fall races can put my summer training to the test. Over the years, I have proven my own saying: “Summer training can bring a Fall Personal Record (PR)”.
As a family man and a runner, I like to plan some of my races when my family can travel with me. This gives us a break from our busy work/school schedules as well a quick getaway in general. My family has travelled with me to many big city marathons. However, my kids’ school, my work, my own school, and the cost factor makes it harder to travel to big cities every year to run marathons.
7 Bridges Marathon
In November of 2011, as I was looking for an alternative first fall marathon that was close to home, I came across the 7 Bridges Marathon. Duane, a co-worker, running buddy and contributor to MRuns.com, mentioned that there was a new marathon named the 7 Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga. I’d never ran in Chattanooga, though I had been to the area before. Like most who hear about running in Chattanooga for the first time, I thought it was going to be a hilly race like in Atlanta. I looked up the race website (http://sevenbridgesmarathon.com/) and reviewed course profiles (http://www.mapmyrun.com/us/chattanooga-tn/7-bridges-marathon-v4-route-29344266). I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the race was not hilly, with a total climb of just 445 feet for the entire race. I told my friend Duane that I would run the marathon next year – 2012– and the rest is history.
As I prepare for my 3rd year of the 7 Bridges marathon, I reflect back and realize how much I have enjoyed the race, city and people of Chattanooga. In the last two years, I have been able to set my PR to a point that I am yet to break in any other marathons outside Chattanooga – even on flat and fast courses. In 2013, I was able to achieve every runner’s dream of being a Boston Qualified (BQ) runner. Yes! I will be running the Boston 2015 – and it’s all thanks to the 7 Bridges Marathon!
As much as I want you to join me in the next 7 Bridges Marathon, I also want you to realize that you do not have to travel hundreds of miles and spend thousands of dollars to achieve your PR, or qualify for Boston, or enjoy a city and marathon. It can be done close to home.
The City of Chattanooga
I have always loved the city of Chattanooga and the things it offers for a family. It is only around 2.5 hours from the Birmingham, AL area. Before I was even a runner, I visited the city with my family for quick weekend getaways. Now, once per year, I have an opportunity to visit the city and connect to new people and places. I call it a “win-win” for both my family and I.
The city has to a lot to see for both kids and adults, such as the Tennessee Aquarium, the Riverwalk area, Point Park, Rock City, Ruby Falls, the Kids’ Science Museum and more (http://www.chattanoogafun.com/). Even with all this, we still have more to discover. My family and I plan to go back to Chattanooga for a long time. If you have never visited the city, you should give it a try – even on non-marathon weekends.
Where can I find race information?
When is the race? And how is the weather?
The race is on the 3rd Sunday in October. As mentioned earlier, the weather during this time of year is cooler. Training through the hot summer months has great payback during fall due to the weather. In the last two years, the temperature upon the start of the race was around 45 degrees. A perfect start, especially when you have been training within harsher weather.
How is the course?
The course is mostly flat, other than bridges. The race start crosses the river from downtown, then runs through part of the city before it goes away from city. The 5th bridge around mile 17, which is the furthest point on the race course, has the longest and biggest climb. Once you get to the top of the bridge, the rest is mostly downhill and flat on the banks of the Tennessee River. The riverside run is great and peaceful.
In conclusion, if you are still looking for your first fall marathon or next marathon in general, give the 7 Bridges Marathon and 4 Bridges Marathon a try. You will see why I always have such a high rating for the race and event. Hope to see you at the starting line!
More info: http://www.mruns.com/?p=12736
Event website: http://sevenbridgesmarathon.com/