In order to give more information on races of many distances, I am going to start having different races on different days of the week. Monday will be Marathon Monday. I will certainly cover marathons on other days of the week as well, but you can always count on finding out some information about marathons on Monday.
Marathon Monday: St. George Marathon Registration
I ran the St. George Marathon in 2012 (and just realized I never did a real review of the race – it will be coming!) and really enjoyed it. It is a race that I had wanted to run for quite a while and finally got to get in for the 2012 edition. Tens of thousands of people try to get into this marathon every year. It has so many interested entrants that they have a lottery system to select the runners that will end up on the starting list.
What makes this race so awesome and sought after is the beauty of the course combined with the incredible negative elevation. The race starts at just under a mile in the air (5,240 feet is the starting line’s elevation) and ends at 2,680 feet. That makes for a net elevation loss of 2,560 feet! When properly trained for, this type of course can help you run an excellent time! Many runners think that you could just go out there and run this course and drop a ton of time off of your regular time. That is not necessarily the case. This course will trash your quads if you do not properly train for the downhill pounding you will endure. If you train for that, you can run some great times. Just be prepared! You will not believe how much of a braking motion that your legs will be providing you throughout the race!
The only distance available at this race is the marathon distance – 26.2 miles. This means that you will be joining 7,800 runners on one of the most beautiful courses you will run at that distance. That is one of the great things about a point-to-point course – everything is new the whole way along! When the sun starts coming up, it will reveal some beautiful color layers throughout the mountains.
The registration for the lottery begins soon – April 1. The lottery window will be open until May 5 with results being posted after that. Entering later or earlier in the lottery process does not change anything about your chances. The selected runners are chosen by computer randomization.
Here are some details about the St. George Marathon:
- Registration information here
- To be held on October 4, 2014
- Start time is 6:45AM for the runners
- The marathon is the only distance offered
- Start altitude is 5,243′
- Finish altitude is 2,678′
- Fee is $90
- Cap is 7,800 runners
- 2014 is the 38th running of the St. George Marathon
St. George Airport is serviced by Delta Airlines (via Salt Lake City) and United Airlines (via Denver). Most airports on the east coast will require two connections to get there. The prices are not cheap (if going by paid tickets) and award seats on the hub airports to SGU can run out very quickly. An excellent alternative to it (and one that will provide a lot more options and flexibility) is Las Vegas. It is just under a two-hour drive away and will definitely give you some excellent views along the way!
Not only will Las Vegas be cheaper and have more award availability, but it will also give you the opportunity to get cheaper rental cars (even with the gas price, you may still make out better with a rental from Las Vegas). Another plus is if you are going to be in the area for more than a couple of days, Las Vegas provides a lot of cheap hotels to give you a base to some of the sights in the area.
This is one of those places and races that allows you to still get excellent value out of your Hilton HHonor points. With last year’s devaluation, the high-end Hiltons took a real hit with points. However, the mid-tier hotels are still doing great! One of the best race options (right next door to the Expo and Pasta Dinner center) is the Hilton Garden Inn. It costs almost $200 per night but can be snagged for only 30,000 Hilton HHonor points! You can get (almost) two nights worth of points with most Hilton cards. And they do have some great availability! See this post for information on getting Hilton points.
With a race entry system like a lottery, the one advantage you have is that no one knows if they are going to be selected through the lottery! This is very helpful information for a race like this where so many thousands of people will be descending on a smaller town like St. George. The town will see an addition of 10% of their population from the race on that weekend! That is going to make hotels (and some award flights) disappear very quickly!
But, when it comes to most hotel programs, you can go ahead and use your points to reserve the rooms right now. With almost all award reservations, you can always cancel (up to the day before with many locations) and get your points back. So, if you are going to enter the lottery for St. George, lock in your hotel now with points!
With airlines, it becomes a little trickier. When the actual lottery comes near a close, I will go a little more into a strategy that should pretty much guarantee you can claim award availability, but still get your points back if you do not get selected. For now, if you are an upper-tier elite member with United or Delta (Premier Platinum/1K/GS for United or Platinum/Diamond Medallion with Delta), you can go ahead and book your award trip right now and always cancel it for free for a full refund of your miles (up to 72 hours before with Delta). For everyone, else, wait until the race gets closer to find out how!
So, mark April 1 on your calendar and start planning what will guarantee to be a fantastic marathon! Miles and points can make this trip essentially free, so all that is left is for you to enter the lottery and see if you will be picked! Trust me, it will be a marathon you will always remember!