My next three races are hometown races. And by hometown, I don’t even mean San Diego. I mean Encinitas, the small coastal city of just 61,000 people that I live in. Encinitas has become kind of a hot spot for San Diego county races over the last couple of years, with it’s beautiful coastline just begging for runners to explore it.
The first race will be the Encinitas Turkey Trot, which takes place Thanksgiving morning. I’ll be running the 10k. I love this local race because it really feels like my hometown family race. I have several friends coming out with their kiddos to walk or jog. Mike and I are both signed up and had planned to run together and push the stroller, but Mike recently hurt his back so he may just be walking the 5k with Siena and other friends of ours while I run the 10k. Since I’m still recovering from the marathon and haven’t run much since then, I’m not sure exactly how fast I’ll be able to run the race, but I do want to try to give it my best effort (despite heavy legs from my 21 Day Fix Extreme workouts!).
One of the big reasons I want to give the Turkey trot a good effort is so that I can compare it to my next race, which will be the Cardiff Kook 10K (named after the statue of a novice surfer on the coastline in the Encinitas neighborhood of Cardiff). The race course (and organizers) are exactly the same, so it’ll be a good test to see if I’m made any progress between Thanksgiving and Super Bowl Sunday, when the kook race is held. Both race courses start on the 101 at D street, which is the cross street of our old apartment. Essentially, the course is exactly my old (and current since I often head down to the beach for runs) running route.
And third, I’ll be running the inaugural Encinitas Half Marathon on March 26th. We’ve never had a race longer than a 10k take place in Encinitas so I’m pretty excited for this one (if you want to join me, use discount code FITNESSFATALE for 10% off the Encinitas Half Marathon!). It’ll be fun to race a half marathon in a place where I intimately know every turn and bump in the road. I’ve run thousands of miles along this route and I know it well.
Among many reasons why I’m excited for these local races, one of the biggest is that I get more sleep! The pre-race early wake-up call and hours of waiting that can come with big races is completely erased. Last year when I did the turkey trot and the Cardiff Kook 10k, we left our house less than an hour before race started. The start line is a quick 10 minute drive, there is no traffic and plenty of parking due to the small size of the race, and there’s no need to arrive early in anticipation of long porto-potty lines. I’m sure i’ll give myself more time for the half marathon, but for these short races with a 7:30 AM or 8 AM start time, I won’t be missing any sleep at all!
After having such a poor race in New York, I really got to think about the hometown advantage. I had a nearly 12 hour travel day to get to my hotel in New York on Friday, a 3 hour time difference, a 1 hour time change with Daylight Savings Time. I woke up at what would be 2:30 AM San Diego time and didn’t race until nearly 5 hours later at 10:15 AM New York Time (7:15 AM San Diego time). It was all wacky! I can’t say exactly how much of an impact this had on my performance, but it definitely should be considered.
It’s common to hear that football teams have at the “hometown advantage.” Does the same go for running races? Not only do you get to sleep in your own bed, you eat your own food the night before, and hopefully you’ll have more support on the sidelines as friends and family are available to come out and cheer for you. The course is likely more familiar which can be a big advantage when it comes to pacing and running tangents. In fact, the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon Champion claimed that knowing the course was the key to his victory.
When researching this topic, I mostly found studies that mentioned that the crowd is truly what creates the “hometown advantage.” But could it also be that the athletes are more sleeping in their own beds, more familiar with the field or court and more comfortable overall? Another article debunked the theory that the crowds have anything to do with the hometown advantage – instead, it can be traced back to “an evolutionarily driven desire to protect their territory.“ Another study cited that referees actually are the reason behind teams winning more often at home. Obviously that doesn’t apply for running. I couldn’t find any scientific studies done on the hometown advantage when it comes to running ( please let me know if you know of one!) – just anecdotal evidence.
When it come stop my OWN PRs, most of them came after sleeping in my own bed. My 5k and half marathon PRs were set in San Diego (though I rarely travel for a 5k). I’ve only run one marathon in San Diego and it was my first marathon, so I can’t say for sure how it impacts my running at longer distances.
No matter what happens at these three upcoming hometown races, I know that I’ll be a lot happier sleeping in my own bed and eating my own food the night before.
Do you think a hometown advantage exists in running?