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After running my 2nd half marathon a week ago, Molly asked if I would mind comparing the two half marathons I’ve done: The Indianapolis Monumental Marathon (recap here) and the Indianapolis Mini Marathon (recap here). I included the recaps because that will give some information as to the differences of the races. As both races take place in downtown Indy, I thought the feel would be similar, but these races truly felt very different to me. Here are my thoughts on the differences and similarities of each race.

Race size: Both races had pros and cons with this. The Monumental is smaller than the Mini, and because of this the roads weren’t nearly as blocked and the cheering felt more personal. I didn’t do nearly as much weaving as I did in the Mini which was really nice- much less frustration! The Mini had a little more energy because there were lots more people.

Starting Line: With the Mini you are assigned corals, which makes it a little difficult if you’re planning to run (or start) the race with someone. In the Monumental we were allowed to line up wherever we wanted! They had pace signs and you got to choose where to start. It felt like this helped things from being too packed, and like I mentioned above, I had to weave much less. During the Mini it took about 20-25 minutes (i think!) to cross the starting line, so I walked quite a bit while others in front of me crossed the line. I crossed the starting line about 5 minutes after the race started in the Monumental, which meant I expended less energy before the race!

Spectator Numbers: Because the Monumental was smaller, there was a much smaller number of spectators. That being said, the course of the Monumental pretty much consistently had people along the entire course, but it wasn’t nearly the size of the spectators in the Mini. The spectators along each course were absolutely wonderful though!

Entertainment: The Mini is known for their great entertainment along the race course. Along the course were tons of bands, singers, cheerleaders, and even baby elephants at the zoo! This helped to keep my mind off things a bit. The Monumental only had a few bands along the course, but surprisingly this didn’t bother me too much. Apparently entertainment along the race course isn’t a huge priority for me in comparison to some of the other factors here.

The Course: Both courses were located in downtown Indy, but they ran through different parts and didn’t overlap at all to my knowledge. One thing that I was really excited about before the Mini was getting to run on the Speedway. I thought this would be something really fun after the half way point in the race. WRONG. To me it’s the worst and most difficult part of the race course. The Monumental doesn’t have anything as “big” as the Speedway, but it runs through a number of the “Monuments” of Indianapolis, like Lucas Oil Stadium and Monument Circle (twice). Honestly, I really enjoyed not having to run on the Speedway, so the Monumental course was a win in my book! Both races were flat which makes them speedy!

Hydration: Both of the races did a fantastic job of providing water and gatorade frequently (i think pretty much every mile) along the race course.

Race Volunteers: At both races the volunteers were friendly, encouraging, and very supportive! This was beneficial, and I enjoyed the extra cheering during both races!

Price: I think the price was pretty much the same for both races. Of course it depends on how early you register for the race, but there wasn’t a significant difference. The difference will come if you choose to spend the night in a hotel in Indianapolis before either of the races. The hotel room for the Monumental was significantly cheaper than the same hotel room for the Mini.

Expo: The expos were both held in the Convention Center downtown, although the Mini expo was much larger. Both had some great venders, had places to purchase running attire, shoes, fuel, and accessories, and had a number of other race booths in attendance.

Race Swag: There was no significant difference between either of the races. Both of the races provided tech shirts (Mini was long sleeved and Monumental was short sleeved), hats (Mini was a regular hat that didn’t fit me well and Monumental was a nice winter hat), and finisher medals. The Mini had a few small samples in the race bag (like vegetable oil) and some coupons while the Monumental had a race poster.

Communication Pre-Race: Both races were fantastic about this! I got emails regularly for each of these races, and I felt well prepared before the race. Each race had course maps with water, gatorade, and medical tents marked, along with starting line information, gear check, etc… Both were really great about this!

Time of the Year: These races are 6 months apart. The Mini takes place the first weekend of May and the Monumental takes place the first weekend of November, so both can provide some extreme temperatures.

Overall Race Quality & Enjoyment: I really truly loved both of these races. I think they were both worth the time, energy, and injury that went into training and running each of these races. I plan on running both of them again, and of course having fun while running them. It was really nice to not have to run that Speedway during the Monumental though!!

So those are a few of my thoughts about the race! If you’ve run one or both of these races and want to join in the conversation, please share your comments!

Now it’s your turn to share! What do you look for in a race? If you’ve run both of these races, which do you prefer?