I’ll admit, there once was a time when I didn’t even look at an elevation chart for a race I was running. Let’s take a look at some of the elevations for the races I’ve ran.
- Strider Half Marathon, 2010: This was the year they used the same route as the South Shore Half Marathon, it was an out and back on the Oak Leaf Trail. I don’t have any stats for this race, but I’m pretty sure it was mostly flat.
- Lakefront Marathon, 2010 and 2011: Elevation loss of 1063′, gain of 837′. This means is was mostly downhill.
- Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon, 2011: Loss 735′, gain 725′. There was a hill around mile 6, but it wasn’t a huge deal.
- Strider Half Marathon, 2011: This time they used the regular course and it was for the most part flat. Loss 191′, gain 182′.
- Rock n Roll Vegas Strip at Night, 2011: Um, yeah, we all know the finish line was a disaster, but the course was decent. I didn’t anticipate that there would be an incline on the way back. Who knew the Strip wasn’t totally flat? Loss 505′, gain 521′. Just looking at the numbers you’re probably like: What’s the big deal? The deal was that it was 6 miles of incline, but it sure did look like it was gonna be flat.
- Rock n Roll New Orleans: I never appreciated how flat this course was, until now. Loss of 332′, gain of 109′. Too bad the streets for the last 3 miles were in horrible condition. However, note how close to zero the line gets, there’s only one other elevation chart here that even shows zero on it.
- Wisconsin Half Marathon, 2012: What I thought was a hill really was a blessing compared to other hills I’ve had to run. Loss of 709′, gain of 673′. I’m calling this course FLAT.
- Madison Half Marathon, 2012: First of all, it was so hot that the full marathon was canceled. Second of all, a hill at the end of a course is just plain old mean. Loss of 249′, gain of 240′.
- Brewers Mini Marathon, 2012: You’d think this course would be flatter with all of the bridges it crosses, but it wasn’t. Loss of 719′, gain of 712′.
- ZOOMA Great Lakes Half Marathon, 2012: This was the year it was in Lake Geneva, which if you want to run hills, this is is the perfect place to do it. Loss of 896′, gain of 938′ — let me translate this for you: IT’S UPHILL.
- Disney World Half Marathon, 2013: Okay, going from memory I don’t recall any significant hills other than an on-ramp that Jodi and I walked. Let’s see what the stats say. Loss of 148′, gain of 152′ and the chart looks like this:
- Disney World Full Marathon, 2013: Well first of all it’s a good thing I turned off my Garmin for the roller coaster ride, otherwise, who knows what the stats would say. Loss of 1617′, gain of 1644′, but it was so much fun I really don’t care!
- Summerfest Rock n Sole Half Marathon, 2013: I’d rather forget this race completely, but it happened. Loss of 248′, gain of 250′.
So what’s my point? I guess what’s one runner’s hill is another runner’s flat. And in my opinion, gain and loss really doesn’t mean that much until you look at the elevation chart. Is it just one big hill and then the rest is smooth sailing? Or is is a long, slow down climb like in the case of Vegas? This is what I get to run next month, and I’m scared.