A Runners Guide to the Lake Placid Marathon & Half-Marathon
Set in the beautiful village of Lake Placid in upstate New York the Lake Placid Marathon/Half Marathon got it's start back in 2005. From it's humble beginnings the race has steadily grown to where they must now place a cap of 2500 runners for the combined races. And make no mistake about it, the race fills up quickly.
With the beautiful backdrop of the Adirondack High Peaks and the quaint setting of this former Winter Olympic site, Lake Placid has much to offer everyone. For those of you not familiar with Lake Placid, it has become a mecca for the outdoor enthusiast. In addition to the LP Marathon and Half Marathon, this tiny village is also host to the Lake Placid Ironman which is run in late July. And least we forget, Lake Placid put it's name on the map by hosting the Winter Olympic games in 1932 and 1980 and is well known for it's skiing and other winter outdoor activities.
The race is run on the second Sunday of June and kicks off at 8am. Both races start together directly in front of the former Olympic Speed Skating oval and head up Main Street through the heart of Lake Placid for a 3-mile loop around beautiful Mirror Lake.
From here the course heads out of town past the Equestrian grounds and the Olympic Ski Jumps and parallels the very scenic River Road before turning around and heading back to town for the finish of the Half. For those competing in the full marathon it's time to split off and head back out of town back once again to the Equestrian grounds and Ski Jumps followed by a 4-mile out and back on River Road before heading back to town for the finish. Both races finish with a pretty good uphill climb that takes runners onto the former Olympic speed skating oval for the finish.
Given the hilly nature of the region one can expect a fairly rolling course with two major hills and one moderate uphill which is right at the start. The most significant hills are located near the ski jumps (once for the half marathon and twice for the full marathon) and leading up to the finish behind the Lake Placid High School (once of the half and once for the full). Each hill is approximately 3/10 of a mile long and as they come late in the race it makes for a challenging finish.
The 2016 race will mark our seventh trip up to Lake Placid for the half marathon. The race and the setting have become quite addicting and every winter we find ourselves putting aside the second weekend in June for this event. The atmosphere all weekend leading up to the race is electric and the village becomes a hub of activity as athletes arrive. The race itself is always very well organized with plenty of fluid stations and volunteers, a great post race venue with excellent food and music and makes for a great weekend away. For those of you looking for a race to hopefully set a PR, this is not the course for that. Having been a runner for almost thirty years now I find that I am drawn to events with great settings as opposed to races for setting PR's. In this regard, Lake Placid does not disappoint.
If You Make The Trip
If you are spending the weekend or longer in Lake Placid for the race you will have numerous options for accommodations available to you. We have stayed in one of the local hotels, rented a cottage on Mirror Lake, and rented a log cabin just outside of town. For 2015 we rented a house on Mirror Lake. Just be sure to start you're search for accommodations early as places book up quickly for the marathon weekend. If you are coming to Lake Placid from outside of the area you can fly in and out of either Albany, NY or Burlington, VT.
If you're spending some extra time in Lake Placid there are plenty of things to see and do to keep you and the entire family busy. Stroll down Main Street in the heart of Lake Placid or make a visit to the Olympic Center Museum. If your looking for a little adventure why not drive the Veterans Memorial Highway to the top of Whiteface Mountain for a stunning view of the Adirondacks.
If you love the water, Lake Placid and Mirror Lake offer boat tours and rentals in addition to having a small beach area. Ever wonder what it's like to stand atop one of those giant ski jumps? Well you can do that here in Lake Placid with a visit to the Olympic Ski Jump complex. Is ice skating your thing? If so stop by the skating rink in downtown Lake Placid for some ice time. Looking for more exercise? Rent bikes or bring your own and explore the area on two wheels. Whatever you decide to do while you're here you'll be doing it in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable for a running event.
2011 Start of the Lake Placid Marathon/Half Marathon
An arial view of Lake Placid - notice the oval where the race finishes.
Regional map and directions:
© 2012 Bill De Giulio