So what makes a course better than another course? or what makes a good course? This topic is really up to the individual runner because we all have our own unique tastes. Here’s my honest opinion on this subject. First, I prefer a course that’s well identified and marked out clearly. I think it really goes without saying that if you get off course or get lost during your race that chances are pretty high that you won’t complete it in the time you had wanted to or you will make a long race even longer. I also like to see distance markers as well as time clocks at those markers. A time clock isn’t required and I’ve run some great courses that didn’t have them but did use people with stop watches announcing times. To have a course loosely marked with no distance markers and a lack of clocks really make it hard to call it a good course and even harder to say its professionally run.

Flat? Hills? Personally I don’t mind hills and have taken on some pretty difficult races just because of the hills and the challenge they represent but I always enter them knowing that a personal best probably isn’t going to happen. Flat and fast seem to be the most popular. What does flat and fast even mean because so many courses describe themselves this way yet they aren’t all that flat? I believe more than 50% of the course has to be considered flat for that term to be applicable and some might say as much at 80 or 90% might make it more accurate.

Volunteers and Police presence. This is one of my biggest deciding factors for calling a course a good course. I like to see lots of race volunteers and an aid station every mile for 5Ks and every 2 miles for races of longer distances. Volunteers that are supportive and chatty and just outgoing really make the race and race experience so much more enjoyable especially when you need that bit of encouragement the most. When it comes to intersections and traffic its especially important that the race have either enough volunteers or a police presence to keep cars off the course and keep you and every other runner safe while competing. I can’t tell you how many races I’ve run that cars have been on the course and its been a serious safety concern.

Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments below: