From Big to Small: Mesa Falls Half Marathon

One of the most interesting parts of traveling across the country over these past few months to run races is to get to see the variety of really everything we have in the U.S. — the people, the landscapes, the attitudes, even just the little things like the food and the restaurants.

The Upper Mesa Falls along the Snake River, just north of Ashton here in eastern Idaho.

After running the San Francisco Half Marathon at the end of July, I’d be hard pressed to find a race that was more different from it in every way than Idaho’s Mesa Falls Half Marathon, and I don’t mean that as a knock on either race. Where San Francisco is urban, cosmopolitan and run along the towering Golden Gate Bridge, the Mesa Falls race is much smaller, more down-home, and takes you literally out into the wilderness of the east Idaho forests and mountains.

I got into town a couple of days before the race, which gave me the chance both to tour the course and to get my bearings on this small town of just over 1,100 people, which lies about an hour’s drive from the airport in Idaho Falls.

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Question time: What would you like to ask Dana Casanave?

If you follow news about the running world and haven’t heard of Dana Casanave, there’s a good chance you will soon. This runner from Virginia is pursuing one of the most incredible projects/quests I’ve ever come across, one that must be as physically and mentally daunting as it is inspiring — she’s running 52 marathons in 52 weeks, all to raise money for children living in Africa who’ve been orphaned by AIDS.

The big news is, we’re actually going to cross paths this weekend — I’m running in the half marathon at Idaho’s Mesa Falls Marathon & Half Marathon, and Ms. Casanave will also be there to run in that event’s full marathon. We’re in touch now to arrange an interview, and I wanted to put out the word to you guys, and give you a chance to ask her questions as well — what would you like to know more about her project, about her races, and how she’s doing it?

Please feel free to submit your questions below in the comment field, or email them directly to me at info [at] I’ll bring them with me to the interview, and hopefully get them answered!

You can also learn more about Dana and 52 Beginnings at the website she’s set up for her project at

The San Francisco Half Marathon – July 25, 2010

It’s time to get this blog kicked off right, and with that I thought I’d start with reviews and recaps of the half marathon races I’ve run so far this year, starting with the San Francisco Half Marathon I ran back at the end of July.

Mid-race, heading across the Golden Gate Bridge to Vista Point at the 2010 San Francisco Half Marathon.

Of all the half marathon races I’ve done in the past couple years, the first half marathon at the San Francisco Marathon, Half Marathons & 5K — there are actually two half-marathons at this race, as you can run either the first or the second half of the full marathon route — I would definitely say this race is my favorite.

Not because I was able to get anywhere close to setting a personal record time — in fact, this was my slowest half by more than 10 minutes — but because the race course for the first half marathon uses the city as a backdrop so well, it’s hard not to fall in love with San Francisco all over again when you’re running the 13.1 mile route. (And it’s hard not to wonder why you don’t just pack up and move there when you get back home, if it didn’t cost an arm and a leg to live there!)

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Welcome to the Blog!

To everyone who’s been a reader of HalfMarathons.Net over the past few years, first of all thank you SO much for visiting the site and making what was once a hobby site that basically 20 people a day came to see into something that’s much, much more. I couldn’t have developed it without all of your help, suggestions and ideas, and for that I’m so grateful.

Now, I’m finally getting around to doing something that I’ve been wanting to do since I started this site, which is publish a blog about the races I’ve run, and those that you’ve run, to offer a more personal glimpse into what makes all of these races unique, challenging and fun. I have to admit I’ve probably been meaning to get this blog together for like 2-3 years and have just never gotten off my behind to do it, but with a little help and inspiration from a friend of mine who’s just started her own blog and has gotten great response to it so far, I decided to go ahead and give this a go.

My good friend Rob and I, pausing for a photo at the Vista Point turnaround at this year's San Francisco Half Marathon

So what can you expect to see here? What I hope to feature are more personal stories from the races I’ve run and those I run in the future, to give you more of a close-up look at what they’re like. (And yes, I bring my iPhone with me when I run a race so I can snap photos along the way!)

What I also hope to do is to find some more people (besides myself) who’ve got some great, interesting stories to tell about how they got into running, what it does for them, and what their experiences have helped them become. I already have a few people in mind that I’ve talked to in recent months over email about interviews and articles, so expect to see some stories soon in that vein.

Also with that in mind, I’d love to hear your suggestions on what you’d like to see here — what are you curious about when it comes to running these races, training & preparing for them, or other features that I haven’t thought of? Who do you want to know more about out there in the running world? I can’t make any promises, but I can do my best to try to bring their stories to you as well.

Thanks again for reading, and I look forward to hearing from you all.