Burning it off
Once you've fueled up on regional culinary delights, Elise Allen will help you expend those calories in The Traveling Marathoner: A Complete Guide to Top U.S. Races and Sightseeing on the Run. Allen highlights one race a month, ranging from the Boston Marathon in April to the Honolulu Marathon in December. The book is well-organized and totally focused on the needs of a runner, from details on how to register or qualify for a race to the best places to carbo-load the night before. The best thing about Allen's book is how useful it is. Her depth of information illustrates that she not only has been to these 12 races, but as a runner herself, she also knows what details you need and want. If you're headed to the Grizzly Marathon in Choteau, Montana, in August, for example, Allen alerts you to stock up on calling cards, as cell-phone carriers don't seem to cover this wilderness area. She gives details on each course, including when to be at the starting line and how to get there; how many aid stations there are and what each offers (bagels, bananas and sport gel in Montana; cold sponges in Honolulu); and notable views, hills and neighborhoods you'll run through.
There's also plenty of advice for non-runners, from best places to view the races to other activities in each city. There's a nice list of after-race activities for those wanting to turn the marathon into a vacation, with categories ranging from ambitious ( I Feel Great!) to Forget Sightseeing. Get Me to a Spa! Recommended hotels, restaurants, shopping and nightspots nicely round out the book.
The Traveling Marathoner is a solid travel guide worthy of the Fodor name and the focus on runners and racers imbues every entry, making this a must-have guide that's also intensely inspirational. Lisa Waddle is a food writer and runner based in Nashville.