MARATHON FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
How do I know if a marathon is walker friendly?
The time limit is the main obstacle for most walkers. You need to figure out how long it will take you to complete 26.2 miles and locate marathons based on that figure. You will want to know how long the course is closed to traffic, what kind of support you will get, and how long the clock runs. Many marathons will list this information on their web site. If it is not listed read reviews from the previous year and/or try contacting the race director. Since walkers pace varies greatly a walker friendly marathon for one person may not be the right choice for someone else. If this is your first marathon choose a race with an ample time limit. If you feel you will finish in 6 hours choose a race with at least a 6 1/2 hour time limit. 7 hours would be better.
Other things that make a marathon a good choice are often a matter of personal choice. Consider location, travel likes/dislikes, scenery, number of spectators, course conditions, etc. You can find reviews and discuss marathons with others on our facebook group.
What is an "early start"?
Some marathons allow walkers or slower runners on the course before the official start. The marathon may have a start time of 8 A.M. with an official 6 hour course time, but allow walkers to start at 7 A.M. giving them an extra hour. Be sure to find out if participants that start early will receive an official time AND what the course support will be like.
What is the difference walking in a running division, a walking division, and a racewalking division?
If a walker walks in a running division they are allowed to run, walk, or racewalk at any time during the race. When walking in a walking division a walker should only walk... no running allowed. When walking in a racewalking division a walker must maintain racewalking form (one foot on the ground at all times, and straight knee). Never state your time as a walker if you ran in any part of the event.
I don't like the taste of Gatorade. Do I really need it?
Yes. You should use a sports drink or other electrolyte replacement for walks over an hour long. This is especially important in warm weather. During long exercise sessions you lose electrolytes through sweat and urine. If not replaced you are at risk for hyponatremia, a serious medical condition which can be fatal.
Try a variety of replacement products until you find one that you do like. If you plan to use the replacement provided at the event, be sure you have tried it in advance. If you can't tolerate it, you will need to carry your own. One way to do this is to use a powder form that you add to your water as needed. Another option is to use an electrolyte replacement tablet. (Note: a salt tablet is not the same as electrolyte replacement and should NOT be used.)
More questions and answers coming soon. Some answers may also be found on our walking faq.