In the past few years I have run only a handful of official races. But now that I am getting more serious about running I find that the races I choose still follow the same methods of selection as the others. Listed below are my general selection criteria for races.
Cost: The most easily overridden factor effecting race selection. Can be trumped by any other of the criteria listed below.
Difficulty: not a primary factor unless the race is deemed to be difficult and then this can be a reason in and of itself to run.
Novelty: Somewhat related to difficulty but also how unique the race is considered. Also in my nerdish tendency are there facts and history of the race that have to be learned to fully appreciate it? (see also Cult Appeal)
Cult Appeal: Somewhat related to Novelty. Is this race widely known or simply known by "The Inner Circle". Definately more appealing the more secretive the sense.
Regional: Location, location, location. I'm not big on road tripping for races unless of course the location of the race is a desireable destination all by itself. IE The Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, SC.
Convenience: not just in getting to the race itself but post race proximity to amenities (showers, good food, or other fun post race activities) This has led to the abandonment of a race or two. Amy and I were once signed up for a 10k in Fairbanks, AK during our summer trip there. After spending several days in essentially the least exciting location in Alaska we bailed the afternoon of the race literally a couple of hours prior to the start. Perhaps we should have stuck around and ran the race but looking ahead at a three day back-country trip and nowhere to get clean after the race, not to mention a 4-5 hour drive to get down to Denali National Park. We woosed out.
Shwag: Also can tip the scales for or against a race. Tech t-shirts, cool design shirts, long sleeve shirts, and othe gdunk. Aside from the BEAR all other races I have run have had only t-shirts. By far the coolest shirt has got to be the Shut-In Finisher long sleeve. It became a huge part of my motivation to finish despite cramping through the last six miles. (see Shut-In Run report). Although I still like the sound of the Virginia Creeper paper weight and no shirt.
Now as I look at future races while still training for my big upcoming first marathon, these criteria continue to influence my choices.