March Madness 2015: Round I!

This is not the actual trophy. The actual trophy will be much more imaginary. Flickr Commons image by shorts and longs
This is not the actual trophy. The actual trophy will be much more imaginary.

And now, Salty Friends, it is time to VOTE! We have 64 awesome marathons vying for the title GREATEST US MARATHON … (that isn’t NYC, CHI or BOS). They are separated into 4 regions, just like the college basketball tournament. I’ve seeded the races according to participation rate: the more participants, the higher the seed. You can get a bracket spreadsheet here. For Round I I will leave voting open for 24 hours, so voting will close on Friday, March 27 at 7:00 EST. Also, we’d love to hear your opinions about the races here that you’ve run. Remember, commenters are entered into a drawing for a cool prize!

Enough boring stuff. Let’s VOTE!

Central Division

1. Medtronics Twin Cities Marathon (MN) vs Martian Marathon (MI):

Sure the Twin Cities Marathon might just be the largest and most well-known marathon in the whole tournament, but any race with an animated story that explains its name has to be pretty good, no matter how small! Can the little marathon with the quirky theme take down the biggest of the big dogs?

[socialpoll id=”2260520″]

2. Grandma’s Marathon (MN) vs Wisconsin Marathon (WI):

Who could hate a marathon named after the best relative a kid could ever ask for or a marathon that gives big cheese medals? Will the self-proclaimed cheesiest marathon be able to take down big Grandma? YOU decide!

[socialpoll id=”2260525″]

3. Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon (OH) vs Glass City Marathon (OH):

This match-up pits central Ohio versus the Northwest of the Buckeye State. In 1972 Toledo’s Glass City Marathon was the 9th most popular marathon in the country. Since then Columbus has surged ahead and is now the most popular marathon in Ohio and the 16th most popular in the country. You decide who wins this battle of Ohio!

[socialpoll id=”2260526″]

4. Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon (OH) vs. Go! St. Louis Marathon (MO):

With this match up all I can think is RIBS! Mmmm. Cincinnati was once known as Porkopolis and now St. Louis is America’s Top Grilling City. Coincidence they’re paired together?

[socialpoll id=”2260527″]

5. Indianapolis Monumental Marathon vs Akron Marathon (OH):

While one of these marathons is a favorite for those chasing down BQs and OTQs and the other is known for being, well, hilly. While the times at Akron might not be the fastest, the city is so behind the race there is a permanent blue line on the streets marking the course. Does speed really matter?

[socialpoll id=”2260528″]

6. Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon (MI) va IMT Des Moines Marathon (IA):

Detroit is a truly international race with the course taking you from the U.S. to Canada and back. Not to be outdone, the Des Moines marathon takes you on a tour of the beautiful Midwestern plains city. Will international or small town win this match?!

[socialpoll id=”2260530″]

7. Air Force Marathon (OH) vs Scheels Fargo Marathon (ND):

Will the Air Force Marathon defeat the Fargo marathon in this battle? When asked if it would win, Fargo answered, “You betcha!” Will the celebration of the U.S. military and flight defeat a Midwestern favorite? It’s up to you!

[socialpoll id=”2260531″]

8. Traverse City Track Club Bayshore Marathon (MI) vs Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon (OH):

This is sure to be a tough battle! On one side we have a run boasting beautiful scenery and a heaping bowl of ice cream at the finish (Bayshore). On the other, we have an urban tour through the neighborhoods and urban landscapes of a Rust Belt city. You decide if Bayshore or Cleveland takes this prize!

[socialpoll id=”2260532″]


East Division

1. Anthem Richmond Marathon (VA) vs Rehoboth Beach Marathon (DE):

Richmond lays claim to the title of  “America’s friendliest marathon” and boasts a scenic course complete with party zones and junk food stops. But don’t count out Delaware just yet! Any marathon with the word “beach” in its name and “behind the bandstand” as its starting location has the potential to turn into a Cinderella story.

[socialpoll id=”2260578″]

2. Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh (PA) vs. Mohawk Hudson River Marathon (NY):

Pittsburgh hosts a gem of a spring marathon with all the amenities and excitement of a large scale race. But in the match up with a lesser known, flat and fast upstate New York race, it may turn out that size truly doesn’t matter, at least not as much as speed. And with nearly a quarter of the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon field securing a BQ in 2014, is it possible speed could trump size altogether?

[socialpoll id=”2260579″]

3. Baltimore Marathon (MD) vs. Erie Marathon at Presque Isle (PA):

Baltimore boasts a back-half of its course that mimics the second-half of Boston’s. The route is filled with scenic views of the unique neighborhoods of Baltimore, but is it enough to match up to Erie Marathon at Presque Isle where 32% of its participants in 2013 qualified for the Boston Marathon?

[socialpoll id=”2260580″]

4. Vermont City Marathon (VT) vs. Novant Health Thunder Road Marathon (NC):

Vermont offers scenic views and their website is very bright and easy to navigate. The race also features a Marathon Club Competition where top club runners from around the world can compete against each other. On the other hand, Novant Health Thunder Road recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and is the premier running event in Charlotte, NC. The stock car racing flair of this one sure gives Vermont City a run for its money!

[socialpoll id=”2260581″]

5. NU Hartford Marathon (CT) vs. TowneBank Outer Banks Marathon (NC):

I’ve learned a lot getting this tournament together. One of the many notable things? Hartford has a great marathon! Who would think that this often forgotten New England city has a beloved and widely popular race that touts great scenery and perks-a-plenty? But will it be enough to take down one of the top destination marathons. OBX? It’s hard to vote against a race that’s run through ocean-front vacation towns!

[socialpoll id=”2260582″]

6. Steamtown Marathon (PA) vs. Buffalo Marathon (NY):

The blue collar battle is on with these two! Steamtown, in scrappy Scranton, PA is notable for its net downhill course. Some call that fast and others call it a quad-crusher. Buffalo sounds like a nice straightforward medium-sized marathon in a medium-sized city.

[socialpoll id=”2260583″]

7. Yuengling Shamrock Marathon (VA) vs. Cox Sports Providence Marathon (RI):

Which one of these oceanfront marathons will eek out a win? Will it be the party-hardy Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach? Or will it be the quieter and quainter Rhode race (see what I did there?) along our smallest state’s capitol bay?

[socialpoll id=”2260584″]

8. Wineglass Marathon (NY) vs. Baystate Marathon (MA):

One’s claim to fame is a tour of the beautiful Upstate New York fall foliage and the other is for being the “other” marathon in Massachusetts. Both events tout flat fast courses. But will the no-frills runners’ race Baystate pull one off against the frillier destination race Wineglass? It’s on you!

[socialpoll id=”2260585″]


South Division

1. Metroplex PCS Dallas Marathon (TX) vs 26.2 with Donna Marathon (FL):

The marathon formerly known as the Dallas White Rock marathon take on the small but mighty 26.2 with Donna, also known as the Breast Cancer Marathon. While about 10 times as many people actually run Dallas, will the noble cause behind 26.2 with Donna make this little race our Cinderella story? Vote!

[socialpoll id=”2260619″]

2. ING Miami Marathon (FL) vs Kiawah Island Golf Resort Marathon (SC):

This pairing matches a race where I envision finishers lining up to do the Conga with fruity adult beverages versus a race I picture the finishers cooling down with a back 9 along the South Carolina coast. Will sassy smash preppy? It’s up to you!

[socialpoll id=”2260620″]

3. St. Jude Country Music Marathon (TN) vs Missoula Marathon (MT):

Here we match country music against Big Sky Country. Nashville packs in the runners who have a great time along its course thanks to RnR-ification courtesy of Competitor Group, but don’t let Missoula’s size fool you! It was voted best marathon in the country by Runners World in 2011!

[socialpoll id=”2260621″]

4. Austin Marathon (TX) vs Colfax Marathon (CO):

Will our readers choose a rolling course through the Live Music Capitol of the World or a tour of the Mile High City? We suspect the only reason Denver’s Colfax Marathon isn’t more popular is that it’s hard to attract those who are unacclimated to the altitude. But maybe, Austin’s marathon really packs ’em in because it’s better. What do you say?

[socialpoll id=”2260622″]

5. Rock n’ Roll Savannah Marathon (GA) vs Rocket City Marathon (AL):

Rocket City in Huntsville, AL might be one of the best kept secrets to late season OTQ or BQ seekers. It’s touted as having good weather and a fast course in a quaint Southern town. However, could any Southern town be quainter than Savannah, GA? The historic Savannah gets Competitor Group’s full Rock n’ Roll treatment for this early November race. Where would you rather run?

[socialpoll id=”2260624″]

6. Mardi Gras Marathon (LA) vs Louisiana Marathon (LA):

It’s the BATTLE OF LOUISIANA (*said in booming announcer voice*)!  On one hand we have another quaint Southern town treated to the Competitor Group’s Rock n’ Roll treatment, although calling the Big Easy quaint might be the understatement of the century. And on the other a flat fast tour of the charming Louisiana Capitol (that’s Baton Rouge for the state-capitol challenged among you) that our very own Chamomile recently WON!

[socialpoll id=”2260625″]

7. Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon (OK) vs Publix Georgia Marathon (GA):

The biggest surprise I’ve had thus far in preparing for this tournament is discovering how big the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon is! It’s bigger than the Publix Georgia Marathon in Atlanta! Perhaps it’s the fact that OKC is run in remembrance of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building or the fact that Runners World named it one of the 12 must-do marathons. But Atlanta is a pretty great city. The question is: is Atlanta’s marathon great enough to take down OKC?

[socialpoll id=”2260626″]

8. Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon (KY) vs Little Rock Marathon (AR):

In one corner we have the race that let’s you pretend to be a thoroughbred as the course takes you through the famed Churchill Downs. In the other corner, we have a tour of Arkansas’s capitol with perhaps the best medal in all of marathoning. (Seriously, 2014’s medal has to be the best ever!) Who are you going to advance to the next round?

[socialpoll id=”2260627″]


West Division

1. Portland Marathon (OR) vs Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon (AK):

Portland has already won numerous awards including Best Organized Marathon in North America and One of the Top 3 Marathons to do as a first marathon. These stats alone create tough competition for the Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage, AK. It’s your choice between a friendly marathon or an all out vacation destination race where you can experience daylight for over 19 hours in one day!

[socialpoll id=”2260629″]

2. St. George Marathon (UT) vs Salt Lake City Marathon (UT):

It’s the battle of Utah! The St. George Marathon is the largest race held in the Intermountain West. This Utah race is full of scenic delights like no other. The website even looks more like an advertisement for a resort than a marathon but is that enough to out do the start line at the Olympic Legacy Bridge of the Salt Lake City Marathon. Not only that, SLC allows biking and roller skating in addition to running.

[socialpoll id=”2260630″]

3. San Francisco Marathon (CA) vs Eugene Marathon (OR):

San Francisco offers a loop course tour of the city, including running over the famed Golden Gate Bridge. However, Eugene creates stiff competition as the ultimate runnerd’s marathon. Runners are treated to tours of Track Town USA and get to finish inside the famed Hayward Field.

[socialpoll id=”2260635″]

4. California International Marathon (CA) vs Tri-City Medical Center Carlsbad Marathon (CA):

It’s the battle of medium-sized California cities! CIM has been the go-to site for many Olympic Trial hopefuls taking one last stab at a qualifier. Not only because it’s warmer in December but this is THE fastest course in the West. TCMC Carlsbad is another winter option that bills itself as rolling yet fast course along the California coastal line.

[socialpoll id=”2260637″]

5. Big Sur International Marathon (CA) vs Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon (CA):

The battle of relaxing backdrops. One one side we have an astonishingly gorgeous course and the on the other side we have wine. Besides natural beauty, Big Sur prides itself on being a green race and encourages runners to carry their own aid to reduce waste. In fact, there are Camelbak refill stations along this gorgeous course. Speaking of aid, Napa Valley, billed as the biggest little marathon in the West, is run around the country’s most beautiful wineries. There’s sure to be an opportunity to have a sip along the way!

[socialpoll id=”2260639″]

6. Las Vegas Marathon (NV) vs BMO Harris Bank Phoenix Marathon (AZ):

Experience running and Vegas at the prime time: night! Not only do runners explore the city of lights but this Rock ‘N Roll series is sure to provide live music to pump up your pace. Phoenix on the other hand was created for runners by runners so that the course could have an overall net decrease in elevation and at the same time be a Boston qualifier. Would you rather rock or roll?

[socialpoll id=”2260640″]

7. P.F. Chang’s Rock n’ Roll Arizona Marathon (AZ) vs Amica Insurance Seattle Marathon (WA):

Another Rock ‘N Roll series goes up against the Space Needle of Seattle. With RNR Arizona, you can count on consistency and again, live music. But with Seattle, you can challenge yourself to some hills that give amazing views of downtown.

[socialpoll id=”2260641″]

8. Rock n’ Roll Seattle Marathon (WA) vs U.S. Bank O.C. Marathon (CA): 

on’t want as many hills as the Amica Seattle Marathon and love your music then RNR Seattle is an option. But up against US Bank OC, which features spectacular beach views and many cheers from children who participate in their kid’s running program, the pressure in on to choose the right one!

[socialpoll id=”2260642″]

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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  1. Whew!
    Not certain which is more exhausting – completing the ballot or completing a marathon. (oh, wait … yes, I am)

  2. Just ran the half at the Shamrock Marathon–awesome race! I’ve ran two fulls and they are pitted head to head (Columbus and Glass City)!

  3. I’m definitely proud to see that the Midwestern races are so popular. (Home region pride!) That being said, I just learned about a lot more East Coast marathons that I need to check out.

  4. Voting is not as fun as running, but it i fun. Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon is my favorite race to run. Great city and great cause.

  5. I’ve only done half of one of these (Eugene), but it was fun to read!

    (Also, not to be too nit-picky, but why is Missoula in the South?)

    1. Missoula and Colfax are in the south to make the numbers work. There were so many California races that I had two extra on actual western states but needed two in the South so I picked those two to move over a region. I think they’ll forgive me 🙂