Want instant workout motivation? We’re all about the 10k! Signing up for a race makes for one of the best ways to hold yourself accountable — and get in some serious cardio along the way.

If you’ve already tackled a 5k — or even if you haven’t — doubling down on the 10k distance (that’s 6.2 miles) strikes the sweet spot between challenging and totally doable. (To get started, check out this beginner-friendly 10k training plan — walking allowed!) Plus, the wanderlust-inducing locations are endless. Book something local, or break out your bucket list to choose a place you never would have explored.

After consulting with avid runners and scouring online reviews and running sites, we put together this list of can’t-miss 10k races across all of North America. (That’s right, we’ve got your ticket to Cuba!) Listed by date, these spring, summer and fall races promise everything from epic scenery to once-in-a-lifetime festivities. Consider it incentive to cross that finish line — and perhaps even book an extended stay for R&R, too.

RELATED: 50 Running Resources for Speed, Strength and Nutrition

Contents

The Best 10K Races Across the U.S., Caribbean and Beyond!

Photo courtesy of Bolder Boulder

1. Bolder Boulder 10k
Location: Boulder, CO
Date: May 30, 2016
Everything about this race will make you want to sign up, stat. Thirty bands play at different areas throughout the course, while spectators along the route often set up pit stops with activities like slip ‘n slides and bacon stations. When you reach the finish line inside the University of Colorado’s Folsom Field stadium, 50,000 fans will cheer you on, basically making you feel like a gold-medal Olympian. And to top it off, in honor of Memorial Day, you’ll witness a flyover, skydivers carrying U.S. and military flags and a tribute to those who have served our country.
Registration fee: $50–$100

Photo courtesy of NYRR

2. NYRR New York Mini 10k
Location: New York City
Date: June 11, 2016
One of the oldest races (it started in 1972) in one of the nation’s greatest cities, this women-only event requires you to complete one big loop around NYC’s Central Park. The hills may seem daunting, but the amazing skyscraper views make it totally worth the work. After sweating it out on the road, join the post-finish festival near Bethesda Fountain, which provides an iconic backdrop for photos.
Registration fee: $30–$55

Photo courtesy of AJC Peachtree Road Race

3. AJC Peachtree Road Race
Location: Atlanta, GA
Date: July 4, 2016
Celebrate America’s birthday at the site of the biggest road race in the nation. Sixty thousand people gather for this trek through midtown Atlanta, up Cardiac Hill (which climbs 12 stories in less than 1 mile) and ending in Piedmont Park. Surprisingly enough, the T-shirt is a coveted prize: You only get it when you cross the finish line (not when you pick up your bib, like most races) and the artistic design gets chosen via public vote.
Registration fee: $35–$38; lottery closed

RELATED: The 50 Best Half-Marathons in the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Correcaminos 10k

4. Correcaminos 10k
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Date: July 10, 2016
If you need an excuse to travel to this breathtaking, tropical locale, this 10k is a strong one (though the beauty itself will do, too). Everything looks better when you can see it on foot, including the Costa Rican landmarks you’ll pass like the court house, national library and the gorgeous park, La Sabana, where you finish. One more feel-good factor: Your entry fee benefits funds that support people with disabilities.
Registration fee: $32

Photo: El Paso Community Foundation

5. International 10k
Location: El Paso, TX to Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico
Date: August 6, 2016
Ever visited two countries in less than three hours — only traveling by foot? We didn’t think so! But you’ll gain those bragging rights after completing this race that spans more than three miles of El Paso, crosses an international bridge to Juarez and ends right at the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Along the way, you’ll get to check out Spanish cathedrals, beautiful buildings and the Franklin Mountains, at the southern tip of the Rocky Mountains. (Just don’t forget your passport so you can get home!)
Registration fee: $25–$30

Photo courtesy of Beach to Beacon 10k

6. TD Beach to Beacon 10k
Location: Cape Elizabeth, ME
Date: August 6, 2016
Expect to fall in love with Maine as you trot along Vacationland’s tree-lined streets and ocean vistas, before ending at Portland Head Light, aka the most photographed lighthouse in the world. This area is also home to Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won gold in the first women’s marathon and trained on some of these same roads. It’s no wonder spots usually sell out in just minutes.
Registration fee: $50; sold out

RELATED: 9 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Running

Photo courtesy of Water to Wine 10k

7. Water to Wine 10k
Location: Sonoma County, CA
Date: August 7, 2016
You’ll loop past rolling hills, cattle farms and green vineyards while running on these wine country roads. Plus you get a pretty top-notch prize to celebrate your feat: a complimentary glass of vino from Kendall Jackson Wine Center. Water to Wine is the second race of Run Wine Country’s three-race series, which also includes Windsor Green and Healdsburg Half. Finish all three and you get a custom wine bottle.
Registration fee: $60–$80

Photo courtesy of The Great Race

8. The Great Race
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Date: September 25, 2016
This race is so nice, you’ll want to run it twice. In fact, a group of 21 dedicated participants have run the Great Race every single year since it started in 1977 — a sign of just how great it is. Many people set PRs, too, courtesy of the mostly downhill course. The route goes through five college campuses: Carnegie Mellon, Pitt, Carlow, Duquesne and Point Park. For every registration, the Great Race also donates $1 to the Richard S. Caliguiri Amyloidosis Fund, started in honor of the former mayor to support medical research.
Registration fee: $25–$60

Photo: AngryJulieMonday

9. Disney Wine & Dine 10k
Location: Orlando, FL
Date: November 5, 2016
Consider this race the most magical option on the list. Taking place in Epcot, you’ll spot spectators you won’t find anywhere else —that is, Disney characters like Goofy and Mickey. At night, join Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival where world-class chefs cook a wide range of ethnic cuisines. And if you sign up to run the half-marathon the day after your 10k (known as the Lumiere Challenge), you’ll gain free entry to the festival.
Registration fee: $120; sold out

RELATED: The Easiest 10K Training Plan Ever (Walking Allowed!)

Photo: Gameface Media

10. Across the Bay 10k
Location: Annapolis, MD
Date: November 6, 2016
More than four miles of this 6.2-miler takes place over the water, as runners travel on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, reaching an elevation of 186 feet. Bring your phone along, too — Instagram-worthy snaps abound on this scenic course. Live music also awaits runners on the other side of the bay.
Registration fee: $60–$70

Photo courtesy of Bahamas 10k

11. Bahamas 10k
Location: Nassau, Bahamas
Date: November 20, 2016
A fairly new race (now in its fourth year), this 10k provides the ideal getaway when temperatures get too cold. While palm tree-lined paths and balmy weather may be enough to get you to the finish, know that a hot Bahamian breakfast will also be calling your name when you’re done.
Registration fee: $20–$40

Photo: Pond5

12. Marabana 10k
Location: Havana, Cuba
Date: November 20, 2016
Now that some Cuban travel restrictions have lifted (an athletic event such as this one gives Americans permission to visit the country), it’s the perfect time to take a tour by foot. You’ll get to experience Havana’s history and culture along the course, starting at the centrally located Paseo del Prado, and meandering up through Old Havana along the famed Malecon seashore. And while cars are vacated from the roads, you’ll see a living museum of 1950s Cadillacs, Chevys and more, parked along the route, with locals cheering runners from all parts of the globe.
Registration fee: $56–$84

RELATED: The 30 Best Marathons in the Entire World

Photo: Karen Fuchs

13. Reggae 10k
Location: Negril, Jamaica
Date: December 3, 2016
What better way to kick off a tropical vacation than a run around town to the tune of real, authentic reggae music? Oh, and did we mention it’s set along Negril’s seven-mile stretch of white sand beaches? To cap things off, the finish line is conveniently located near the water, so you can find your own slice of heaven and just…chill.
Registration fee: $60–$85

Photo courtesy of Super Bowl Sunday 10k

14. Redondo Beach Super Bowl Sunday 10k
Location: Redondo Beach, CA
Date: February 5, 2017
Commemorate one of the biggest days in sports by getting yourself up and out — and in costume. Besides pretty ocean views, this Super Bowl Sunday 10k also features a big-time costume contest. Even better, you get not one, but two cans of beer at the finish.
Registration fee: $35–$45

Photo courtesy of Caribbean Running Cruise 10k

15. Caribbean Running Cruise
Location: St. Croix, St. Maarten, Dominica, Barbados and Grenada (starts and ends in San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Date: February 5-7, 2017
Talk about the ultimate run-cation! On each of the six Caribbean islands you stop at, you’ll have an active adventure planned, including a four-mile trail run in St. Croix, kayaking in Dominica and a pirate-themed 10k in Grenada. The leaders of the cruise will have running tips at the ready — and you’ll have plenty of time to soak up some sun at each destination, too.
Registration fee: Cruise plus race entry starting at $1,468

RELATED: The 11 Best Running Camps in the U.S.

Photo: Pond5

16. World’s Best 10k
Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Date: February 26, 2017
Certified by the International Association of International Marathons and Road Races, this event attracts a whole lot of world-class athletes. You can run right along side them (or maybe a few miles behind) while taking in sites of the picturesque capital city. Find a spot on the beach after you earn your medal. Pina colada optional.
Registration fee: $40-$45

Photo courtesy of Cooper River Bridge Run

17. Cooper River Bridge Run
Location: Mount Pleasant and Charleston, SC
Date: April 1, 2017
This event boasts a huge health and wellness expo, held the two nights before the race, where you can not only pick up your bib, but also drink beer, listen to live music and shop at more than 300 vendors. During the run itself, you’ll trek over the water on the gorgeous, 3.7-mile Cooper River Bridge, starting in Mount Pleasant and ending in charming downtown Charleston. Sweet sights from the bridge will help you clock speedy miles and at the end, enjoy more music, drinks and food in the popular southern city.
Registration fee: $35

Photo courtesy of Crescent City Classic

18. Crescent City Classic
Location: New Orleans, LA
Date: April 15, 2017
The huge festival at the finish line is just one reason people dub this 10k the “the original party race.” (The fact that it’s in New Orleans also helps.) Another good reason: You’ll often see the walking group pushing strollers… and kegs. Besides the fun, you’ll see lots of Nola culture, starting at the Superdome, passing through the French Quarter, down Esplanade Avenue (to see beautiful, historic homes) and stopping in front of the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Registration fee: $30–$45

RELATED: 13 Awesome Podcasts to Get You Through a Long Run

Photo courtesy of Cap 10k

19. Cap10k
Location: Austin, TX
Date: April 23, 2017
After hitting your stride on the streets of Austin — over the Congress Avenue Bridge and past the Texas State Capitol building — you have access to some of the best post-sweat treats: A free massage, a bloody Mary bar, beer and breakfast tacos. And if you’re still hungry, some of the city’s best food trucks line up to dish out even more delicious eats (bring a few bucks for those).
Registration fee: $30–$35

Photo courtesy of Vancouver Sun Run

20. Vancouver Sun Run
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Date: April 23, 2017
Head north to score your quickest 10k on this fast, flat course. This race is all about entertainment, including bands, dancers and DJs, to keep you smiling while you log those steps. You’ll also get to explore downtown Vancouver and, after you’ve earned your medal, party at BC Place Stadium.
Registration fee: $49–$65

Which 10k races top your list? Share your favorites in the comments below!

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TOP TENS

At a distance long enough to make finishing significant, most 10-mile races are major events, often tied into seasonal or regional activities. Here is a chronological list of some thematically and geographically diverse 10s sure to satisfy your competitive decimal desires.

CRR Hangover Classic 10M Louisville, KY
Award winners of this fast New Year’s Day race receive bottles of champagne. www.fleetfeetlouisville.com

Blue Cross Broad Street Run 10M
Philadelphia, PA
Starting in North Philly and finishing 10 miles south by the stadium area, the only turns on this course are a one block jog around city hall near halfway. First Sunday in May. www.broadstreetrun.com

Annapolis 10M
Annapolis, MD
Run during the dog days of August, the A-10 challenges runners with a hefty double whammy of Tidewater heat and humidity. Those who survive are rewarded with a different running item (vests, watches, shirts) each year. Last Sunday in August. www.annapolisstriders.org

California 10M
Stockton, CA
This often foggy race in the Central Valley awards long-sleeve shirts with “sub-50,” “sub-55,” and so on, printed on the sleeve, leading to some mad finishing sprints as each cutoff rolls around. Last year a third of the male finishers earned “sub-60” shirts. Second Sunday in January. www1.uop.edu/~u-bensal/src.html

Fire Fighters 10M
Thunder Bay, Ontario
The oldest 10, at 71 years, and one of the oldest races of any distance in North America, this event began in 1910. Top runners from Ontario and Minnesota are joined by several Finnish elites sponsored by the town’s Finnish community. Fourth Sunday in May. www.10mileroadrace.org

BB&T Virginia 10M
Lynchburg, VA
Billed as one of the toughest 10’s in the country; the leaders often hit the downhill two-mile split in nine minutes, but take 12 to finish over the same stretch. Third Saturday in September. www.sportscapital.org/

New York Road Runners 10M
New York, NY
Usually cold, sometimes snowy, the course takes runners on two loops of Olmstead’s famed Central Park greensward. Last Saturday in January. www.nyrrc.org

Garden of the Gods 10M
Colorado Springs, CO
If the incredible natural scenery of red sandstone formations doesn’t make you gasp, the 6,500 foot altitude will. Second Sunday in June. www.pikespeakmarathon.org

Park Forest Scenic 10M
Park Forest, IL
With an opening four miles through a nature preserve and multiple musical interludes en route, including a string quartet in the woods, this Midwest Labor Day tradition draws a large and fast field. www.scenic10.com

State Farm Run 10M
Lincoln, NE
This race replaces the now defunct Statehood Run, which drew some national class runners in its heyday. The new course is primarily on the MoPac Trail, a crushed limestone rail trail east of Lincoln. Third Saturday in March. www.lincolnrun.org

Lighthouse Run
Racine, WI
The course alongside the Root River and Lake Michigan includes a stretch through the city zoo and past the Wind Point lighthouse. Third Saturday in June. www.lighthouserun.com

Army 10M
Washington, DC
The 20,000 runner limit is imposed by space limitations at the Pentagon, where the race starts and finishes. The course around the Mall takes in the parts of the capital that Cherry Blossom misses, and concludes a Tidewater Ten Triple Crown of that race and A-10. First Sunday in October. www.armytenmiler.com

Charlottesville 10M
Charlottesville, VA
Challenging course over a variety of surfaces, with the University of Virginia band to spur runners on at three and eight miles. First Saturday in April. avenue.org/ctc/tenmiler

Narragansett Lions Club 10M
Narragansett, RI
This twilight race finishes at a seafood festival with free beer for runners. Last Friday in July. www.narragansettri.com

Cruise Against Cancer 10M
Tucson, AZ
This mostly flat course provides a perfect tuneup for Southwestern runners prepping for the Tucson or Rock ’n’ Roll marathons. Fourth Sunday in October. www.azroadrunners.org

Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10M
Washington, DC
Run the first Sunday in April, this goes past some of the capital’s impressive monuments and is used by Tidewater runners as a spring goal race or a pre-Boston fitness check. When the weather cooperates, the Japanese cherry blossoms can be spectacular. www.cherryblossom.org

Yankee Homecoming 10M
Newburyport, MA
Another summer twilighter, in its 44th year, this is one of the oldest U.S. 10’s. First Tuesday in August. www.yankeerace.com

Evergreen Pumpkin Run
Jacksonville, FL
This Halloween race follows a twisting double loop course through the grounds of a large cemetery, and awards pumpkins at the finish. Last Sunday in October. www.1stplacesports.com

Papa John’s 10M
Louisville, KY
The USA men’s championship gained notoriety when it was discovered the course used to be short. The leader at halfway gets a $250 pizza gift certificate from the sponsor. Second Saturday in April. www.papajohns.com

Crim 10M
Flint, MI
The biggest happening in town since the GM plant closed down, this centerpiece of a multi-race festival finishes with a half mile down a brick-paved avenue. Last Saturday in August. www.crim.org

Tunnel Hill 10M
Tunnel Hill, IL
Point-to-point race on a crushed stone rail trail. First Saturday in November. run.olm.net/tunnelhill.htm

Pear Blossom Run 10M
Medford, OR
Almost perfectly flat out-and-back race culminates at the Pear Blossom Parade. Second Saturday in April. www.pearblossomrun.com

Sea Isle City 10M
Sea Isle City, NJ
The course is three miles of boardwalk, seven of beach, past crowds of summer tourists. First Saturday in August. www.lmsports.com/events5.htm

15K & 10 Mile Training

15K & 10 Mile Training

The 15K is a useful and exciting racing distance. It’s a “between” distance. The 15K offers a challenge for those who have run their first 5K and 10K races and want to go a bit further without quite committing to a marathon, or even a half marathon. Experienced runners enjoy the 15K, because it offers a different distance, one to relieve boredom. I always have liked running 15K races and have had some of my best times and performances at this 9.3-mile distance, as well as in slightly longer 10-mile races.

SEE ALL 15K & 10 MILE PROGRAMS

Click on the links below for access to 15K training programs for Novice, Intermediate and Advanced runners. If you are new to running or haven’t run a race as long as 15K, you probably will want to choose my Novice Program. It features three days of running plus two days of cross training. Long runs peak at 8 miles, just short of your race distance. On two days, I suggest you do some strength training combined with stretching. One day is dedicated to rest.

More experienced runners may want to select my Intermediate Program. It is one step up in degree of difficulty from the Novice program, featuring five days of running–and one of those days features speedwork: tempo runs and training on the track. Long runs peak at 10 miles, further than you’ll run in the actual 15K race.I also suggest that Intermediate runners strength train two days a week as well as cross train. One day is also dedicated to rest.

Only the most seasoned runners should select my Advanced Program. It’s tough and features six or seven days of running. (Advanced runners are given the option of running or resting on Fridays.) It also contains two days of speedwork on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Long runs peak at 13 miles. No cross-training, since Advanced runners usually prefer to run, not bike, swim or walk. Only a small percentage of runners can prosper following a training program this tough, so think twice before selecting it.

For the full 10-week schedules, click on one of the links to the Novice, Intermediate, or Advanced programs. On these screens, you will also find instructions on how to do the different workouts, but for more detailed instructions plus extra training advice and tips, consider signing up for one of my Virtual programs, available through TrainingPeaks. to access the menu listing all of my Virtual training programs. For ten weeks leading up to the 15K or 10-mile race of your choice, I will send you daily emails telling you how to train.

So lace up your running shoes. It’s time to start training for your next 15K or 10-mile race.

It’s no secret that California is a state focused on living an active lifestyle. From detox retreats to fitness vacations to indulgent spas, the Golden State is a hub for athletic and wellness-minded travelers—especially runners.

“California is a runner’s paradise,” says Jessie Sebor, who oversees Competitor and Women’s Running magazines as Vice President of Media at Competitor Group, Inc. “You are nearly guaranteed to enjoy perfect weather—an advantage that can’t be overstated—as well as beautiful surroundings. Lush, hilly trail races; flat and fast oceanside marathons; themed events where runners dress like their favorite characters—there’s really something here for every sort of aspiring athlete.”

We picked 10 of the best California running races below, listed in order of date.

1. Carlsbad 5000

April, Carlsbad

Distances: 5K, kids race, “All Day 5K”

World records have been broken on this flat, coastal course, which features a separate elite wave worth watching for inspiration after you’ve finished your race. If you’re eager to break your 5K time—and want to enjoy a beautiful beach vacation afterwards—this northern San Diego County event is the place to do it. Runners up for a bigger challenge can try the “All Day 5K,” where you run four back-to-back 5Ks with breaks in between. Good news for all: You’ll be rewarded with some of San Diego’s best craft beer at the post-race Pizza Port Beer Garden.

2. Big Sur International Marathon

April, Big Sur

Distances: 3K, 5K, 12K, 11 miles, half marathon, 21 miles, marathon

Runner’s World has called this the “most scenic race on the continent” and it’s hard to disagree. Rugged cliffs, majestic sequoias, and the turquoise Pacific Ocean line this point-to-point course from Big Sur to Monterey, and the biggest pack of spectators you’ll see are the cows noshing on grass on the hillside. One of the best things about this iconic race is that you have distance options ranging from 3K to the marathon, so there’s something for every level of runner. However, if you run the shorter distances, you’ll miss one of the course highlights—a tuxedo-clad grand piano player at mile 13. Note: Although mudslides have caused temporary road closures on Highway One, the race course was unaffected and is accessible from the north.

3. Bay to Breakers

May, San Francisco

Distance: 12K

More than 50,000 costumed runners gallivanting around San Francisco makes for quite the spectacle. Although this annual event—which has been going on for more than 100 years—might appear to be more “organized costume party” than serious road race, it appeals to fun-loving casual runners, elite racers, and a competitive “centipede” category (13 or more people attached by a cord of some sort). Bad costume choices make running a 12K slightly more difficult in places like the infamous Hayes Hill at mile 2, which boasts pitches that rise to 11 percent. The race finishes in Golden Gate Park, where the festivities continue.

4. Avenue of the Giants

May, Weott

Distances: 10K, half marathon, marathon

If a peaceful run under a canopy of giant redwoods sounds like a dream race, make your way to Southern Humboldt County (45 miles south of Eureka) for Avenue of the Giants. You have your choice of distances to explore one of the largest groves of old-growth coast redwoods on foot, and less than 3,000 runners compete total, so you won’t be fighting for space as you meander through the forest. The average temperatures in May—45 to 62 degrees F—are perfect for running.

5. Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego

June, San Diego

Distances: 5K, half marathon, marathon relay, marathon, dog walk

The Rock ‘n’ Roll series debuted with this race in 1998, and the downtown event continues to be a favorite for runners who want to pay a visit to this popular coastal city. The courses weave through some of San Diego’s hip neighborhoods and the museum-filled Balboa Park before finishing downtown. And, because it’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, you can expect live music along the course and a headliner at the elaborate finish line party. Insider’s Tip: Runners who take part in three out of four Rock ‘n’ Roll races (including San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Diego) in one calendar year earn a special “Cali Combo” medal.

6. The Dipsea Race

June, Mill Valley

Distance: 7.5 miles

Few race entries are as coveted as the Dipsea, the country’s oldest trail race, in Marin County. Because the trails can only accommodate a certain number of runners, only 1,500 participants can compete on the grueling 7.4 miles of stairs and steep single track. The application process—which involves physically mailing in paperwork—is part of what makes this race one of a kind. The oldest and youngest runners start first, followed by the rest of the field in one-minute increments, and the first person to reach the top wins (as opposed to fastest time). Even if you don’t get in, you should add this stretch from Muir Woods to Stinson Beach to your must-run list.

7. Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon

July, Napa and Sonoma

Distance: 5K, half marathon

Wine drinkers who love to run—this race is for you. With a point-to-point course through some of Napa and Sonoma’s most beautiful vineyards, you’ll have plenty of scenery to gawk at before you end in historic Sonoma Plaza. The best part: Every finisher gets a wine glass to taste the offerings from more than two dozen wineries.

8. Disneyland Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend

November, Anaheim

Distances: Spider-Man 5K, Thor 10K, Half Marathon

You can’t go wrong with one of Disneyland Resort’s themed runs, which will give you an entirely new view of the park in the early hours before it opens. In addition to the Super Heroes weekend, Disney also offers the Star Wars Half Marathon in January, Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend in May, and the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend in September.

9. Silicon Valley Turkey Trot

November, San Jose

Distance: 5K, 10K, kids race

This San Jose event isn’t your normal hometown Turkey Trot—it’s the largest timed Thanksgiving weekend race in the United States. More than 25,000 people run in the annual event, and proceeds benefit five different charities. The race features a few different competitions, including a “Can Do” food drive, a costume contest, and a “Mayor’s Cup” for local civic leaders.

10. California International Marathon

December, Sacramento

Distance: 5K, marathon relay, marathon

As one of the fastest marathons in the U.S.—the course is net downhill—this popular race appeals to the competitive crowd looking to best their previous times or qualify for the Boston Marathon. Sacramento provides a small-town, welcoming feel, with finish line food that goes beyond your average race fare, like oatmeal with fruit and trendy-healthy bone broth.

…And if you’re a super endurance junkie

California is also known for two of the most famous ultra-distance events: the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, starting in Squaw Valley, and the 135-mile Death Valley to Mount Whitney Portal Badwater Ultramarathon. Both are epic, incredibly difficult, and require qualification to enter.

10 Best Cities to Run Your First Half-Marathon

Choosing where to run your first half marathon can be daunting. Do you stay close to home? Use it as an excuse to go to that city you’ve always wanted to visit? And then you have to consider other factors such as terrain, altitude, and accessibility to hotels, restaurants, etc. To help you out, we tracked down 10 half marathons across the country that take place on reasonably flat, USATF-certified courses with plenty of nearby amenities to help you achieve an awesome time in a low-stress environment.

1. Whidbey Island, Washington

Whidbey Island Half Marathon — April

This USATF-certified course is the perfect road race for anyone looking to get their feet wet in the Pacific Northwest. The out-and-back route features a modest 799 feet of elevation gain, with plenty of views of the Puget Sound and nearby Mount Rainier. Electrolyte replacement drinks are available every two miles, so you’ll never have to worry about running out or going too far without hydration. The island is a 75-minute drive from downtown Seattle and an abundance of beaches and waterways mean you can squeeze in some post-race boating and whale watching.

2. Ogden, Utah

Ogden Half Marathon — May

A post shared by Ogden Marathon (@ogdenmarathon) on Mar 10, 2018 at 3:15pm PST

The historic town of Ogden, Utah, hosts this picturesque half marathon that starts nearly one mile above sea level. The downhill course will help you forget about the altitude as you shed 700 feet of elevation along the way. The course traces the Ogden River before finishing in the heart of the city. A 45-minute drive from Salt Lake International Airport and near endless hiking and biking trails, the Ogden Half Marathon is an ideal weekend getaway. Dress warmly: The start is typically between 35 and 45 degrees, perfect weather for a brisk PR.

3. Denver, Colorado

Colfax Half Marathon — May

This pancake-flat course follows Denver’s Colfax Avenue, an east-west thoroughfare that Playboy magazine once called “the longest, wickedest street in America.” Runners spend a mile with the animals of the Denver Zoo and pass the live Colorado Firefighter Calendar at mile 11; the city’s brunch goers cheer on racers along the route. Another perk? Choose the beneficiary of your sweat-soaked effort upon registration. The Colfax Marathon organization partners with 210 charities around the country. (The course may be flat, but Denver sits at 5,280 feet in elevation, which adds a different kind of challenge if you’re coming from sea level.)

4. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Half Marathon — September

If you’re in the mood for a trot through the Windy City, it’s hard to go wrong with Chicago’s signature half marathon. Follow Lake Shore Drive from Jackson Park, site of the 1893 World Columbian Exposition, through the Hyde Park neighborhood and the scenic University of Chicago campus. From there, you’ll get views of the massive Lake Michigan on your way to the finish line at the golden Statue of the Republic. When you’ve finished, head north to snap a photo at the Cloud Gate (aka the Bean) and refuel with a big ol’ slice of deep dish pizza.

5. Hershey, Pennsylvania

Hershey Half Marathon — October

A post shared by Kyle Fink (@ktfink767) on Oct 15, 2017 at 10:27pm PDT

Savor the sights and tastes of Hershey, Pennsylvania—home to attractions such as Hersheypark and the M.S. Hershey Mansion—while you blitz the modest hills of this southeast Pennsylvania race. Fuel up at the chocolate aid station on Chocolate Avenue and score two complimentary tickets to Hersheypark in the Dark, a Halloween-themed event held on weekends in October. Proceeds benefit the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

6. Atlanta, Georgia

Jeff Galloway Half Marathon — December

Named for 1972 U.S. Olympian and Atlanta-based running coach Jeff Galloway, this wintertime half is the perfect occasion for a race in Hotlanta. Start in bustling Midtown and run through the historic Old Fourth Ward and along the Freedom Parkway Trail in projected temperatures between 36 and 55 degrees. Keep pushing to the tunes of on-course movement, and meet Galloway himself after the race.

7. Nags Head, North Carolina

Southern Fried Half Marathon — November

A post shared by Julie G (@grrrrryce) on Nov 13, 2016 at 11:54am PST

The pristine wilderness of North Carolina’s Outer Banks hosts this coastal half marathon. Lay down a fast pace over the flat roads along the Atlantic Ocean and test your stamina on the uphill across the Washington-Baum Bridge to the mainland. Score complimentary Southern food and beer at the finish line in Manteo, and plan for a quick USATF-certified time: The November average temperature is between 49 and 64 degrees.

8. San Francisco, California

San Francisco Half Marathon — July

Not many people need a reason to visit an iconic city like San Francisco, but the half marathon held here every summer is a great one. It’s less hilly than you would expect, and you can choose to either run the first halfof the marathon course and finish at Golden Gate Park or the second half, which is more popular for beginners and/or those going for a personal best. The second half of the race has a low elevation profile and runners cruise to a downhill finish towards the Embarcadero. Expect a finish line festival complete with a beer garden, and make a weekend out of your trip to leave time to see the San Francisco Bridge, the eclectic Haight-Ashbury district, and maybe catch a baseball game at AT&T Park.

9. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Rehoboth Beach Marathon — December

A post shared by April (@embracethepace) on Dec 4, 2016 at 12:17pm PST

It may not qualify as a “city” per say, but this race on the southern tip of Delaware Bay is a gem within the Northeast Corridor. Runners see the downtown Rehoboth Beach and the Gordon Pond Wildlife Area along the ultra-flat route, and average temperatures in the low 40s make the Rehoboth Beach Half Marathon an ideal spot for a time attack. Walk along the boardwalk as a cooldown and satisfy your sweet tooth at the Candy Kitchen (it’s open all winter!). Delaware is also one of a handful of states with no sales tax, so stock up on gear for your next race at the Tanger Outlets.

10. Las Vegas, Nevada

Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon — November

Hate getting up early to run? Check off your first half marathon Las Vegas-style by signing up for this evening race. With a start time of 4:30 p.m., this is the only event that shuts down the famous Strip to allow you to run under the lights in Sin City. Like all Rock ‘n’ Roll events, there is plenty of music along this fast course to keep you going, and the temperature is usually in the 40s-60s, which is pretty much perfect for your first race. Obviously, there is plenty to do when you aren’t racing, and Red Rock Canyon is just a short drive away if you want to spend some time in nature.

12 Great Races for the First-Time Half Marathoner

Dreamstime

1) Charleston Half Marathon • Charleston, SC

The start of the year brings thousands of runners to one of the South’s (and the nation’s) most gorgeous coastal cities for this race, which shows off Charleston’s southern charm by starting off in the famous district called “South of Broad.” Thanks to its location, the race is very flat.

January • Race info & signup “

2) Adam & Eve Half Marathon • Charlottesville, VA

This Valentine’s Day race unfolds through some of Charlottesville’s most beautiful neighborhoods near the University of Virginia campus, and runners are encouraged to wear t-shirts that signal their relationship status: Green means “single and ready to mingle,” while red means you’re in a relationship. A yellow shirt says “it’s complicated.”

February • Race info & signup “

3) Michelob Ultra Miami Beach 13.1 • Miami Beach, FL

A mostly fast and flat — and scenic — run through the streets of Miami awaits the more than 3,000 runners and walkers each year at this race, which offers ample views of the ocean waves crashing against the shore and the art and architecture of the city’s world-famous South Beach.

March • Race info & signup “

4) Towpath Half Marathon • Cuyahoga Heights, OH

This nearly all-flat springtime race takes runners on a tour of the parkland areas just south of Cleveland known as the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation, a park filled with hiking and walking trails, over four miles of canals and plenty of wildlife.

April • Race info & signup “

5) Avenue of the Giants Half Marathon • Weott, CA

The first of two races that unfold among the majestic redwood forests of California’s Humboldt Redwoods State Park, this late spring race was once described by Runner’s World as one of the nation’s most beautiful running routes, and features a 6-hour time limit.

May • Race info & signup “

6) Amica Iron Horse Half Marathon • Simsbury, CT

The double-loop course for this race — which Runner’s World’s Bart Yasso named as one of his favorites a few years back — starts in Simsbury, a rural suburb of the state capital Hartford. From there, it meanders past historic farmhouses, rolling country roads and across the Farmington River.

June • Race info & signup “

7) Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon • Chicago, IL

You’ll run through the Windy City’s downtown streets and across the Chicago River at this race, which also unfolds past the parks along Lake Michigan, taking runners past Soldier Field, the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium and through Grant Park before finishing in front of the Buckingham Fountain.

July • Race info & signup “

8) Santa Rosa Half Marathon • Santa Rosa, CA

The largest city in Northern California’s wine growing region opens up the paths along its Santa Rosa Creek and Prince Memorial Greenway for this late summer race, with only gentle (and mostly imperceptible) rises and falls in elevation along a mixture of terrains, from gravel and dirt paths to paved paths.

August • Race info & signup “

9) Surftown Half Marathon • Westerly, RI

The race takes runners on an out-and-back 13.1-mile loop that starts in and finishes near Misquamicut State Beach, a half-mile-long beachfront area that’s one of the state’s more popular summertime beach resorts. The race finish lies on Atlantic Avenue, a block from the Sandcastle Beachfront Inn.

September • Race info & signup “

10) Silver Comet Half Marathon • Mableton, GA

Named for the Silver Comet train that ferried passengers back and forth from Atlanta to Anniston, Ala., in the 1940s and 50s, this converted rail trail offers very flat paved terrain and gorgeous fall colors.

October • Race info & signup “

11) Annapolis Running Classic Half Marathon • Annapolis, MD

From the start and finish line at the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, runners follow an out-and-back course through the city’s historic downtown and around the campus of St. John’s College, across the bridge that spans the Severn River, and later along the Baltimore and Annapolis Trail.

November • Race info & signup “

12) Rehoboth Beach Half Marathon • Rehoboth Beach, DE

Runners spend a stretch of their time along the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk at this early winter race, which also dips into nearby Cape Henlopen State Park and is known for its friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

December • Race info & signup “

Want to tackle a half marathon? Use these 13 tips to have a great race.

The half marathon has become America’s fastest-growing race distance over the years, with the number of 13.1-mile races booming along with the number of participants. In 2012, for example, 1.85 million people finished a 13.1-mile race, up nearly 15 percent from 2011, according to Running USA.

Why the half? For many runners, setting a 13.1-mile goal—whether it’s covering the distance for the first time or setting a new personal best—is a reaching, yet still manageable challenge, offering nearly all the elation involved with finishing a marathon without the impact of going (and training for) twice the distance. Plus, you can bounce back quickly enough, so doing more than one or two a year isn’t an unreasonable undertaking.

This year, whether you’re running your first half marathon or your 15th, make the most of your 13.1-mile experience—from sign-up to finish line—with these top tips.

1. Run for a reason

Training for (and competing in) a long race can be an arduous endeavor, even if you already have a few of them under your belt. Regardless of whether you’re a total newbie or a seasoned road warrior, ask yourself one simple question: “Why am I doing this?” The answer to that question gives purpose to your chosen pursuit and will serve as your primary motivation throughout the training cycle as well as on race day.

We all have our own reasons for lacing up our running shoes, from trying something new and dropping a few pounds to running in memory of a loved one, raising money for a cause or setting a personal best. The list is endless. Whatever your reason or reasons for running, remind yourself of them regularly and never lose sight of what crossing that finish line means to you.

2. Train for at least 13 weeks

While it may seem a bit novel to allow yourself one week of training for every mile of the race, 13 weeks is long enough period of time to safely build up your long run, weekly mileage and key workouts, but not so long that you lose motivation and get stale with your training. For beginners whose longest run might only be 4 or 5 miles at the start, adding as little as a mile to your weekly long run will put you in a position to confidently cover the distance on race day. If you’re an experienced runner and covering the distance isn’t of concern, a 13-week training block chock full of gradually increasing mileage and challenging race-specific workouts can put you in a good position to go after a new personal best. Once you’re in shape to run a half, you can shorten your training program to about 10 weeks for your next one.

3. Buy two pairs of shoes

The miles will add up over the course of three months of half-marathon training, and one pair of shoes likely won’t be enough to handle the entire load. Having two fresh pairs of shoes on hand when you start your training helps extend the life of each pair by giving them ample recovery time between workouts. Just as your body needs to recover after a long run or key workout, so do your kicks. Recent studies suggest that alternating between a couple different pairs of shoes in training can decrease running-related injury risk by varying the load to your musculoskeletal system. Buying two pair of shoes can be an expensive outlay in cash, but the return on your investment can be extraordinary. Consider it an investment in your health and your ultimate race goals for the year.

4. Recruit a half-marathon training partner

Don’t go at it alone — training is better with a buddy. A training partner can keep you excited and accountable when the miles rise, workouts get more challenging or if motivation starts to dip. They’ll also be there to share every experience, celebrate with you on race day and swap epic stories afterward. It can be very tempting to stay in bed and skip a cold morning run if you’re running by yourself, but knowing that you’re meeting someone else to put in the work with you can be the catalyst that gets you up and out the door. If you’re looking to improve your time, find a training partner who is quicker than you and let them push you to become a faster runner.

5. Plan a 5K and 10K too

Three months out from your big race can seem like an eternity, so give yourself intermediate goals along the way to stay hungry and check your progress. Scheduling a 5K three to four weeks into training and a 10K three to four weeks before your half marathon will keep you motivated and provide a nice boost to your fitness while also serving as an indicator as to how well your training is coming along. These tune-up races also provide the opportunity to practice your race-day routine prior to your half marathon, which is perfect for newer runners, who can oftentimes be caught off guard by the chaotic, nerve-racking nature of a bigger event.

6. Run on different surfaces

Don’t get caught in a running rut. It can be easy to head out the door and run the same route from your house every day or cave to the convenience of the treadmill at the gym—yet again. As much as possible, try to switch up the surfaces you run on. Softer surfaces, such as grass or trails, can be great for recovery runs since the impact is less on your body, and the uneven nature of the surface can help strengthen your feet or lower legs. Running on roads can help harden your legs and work on your race rhythm, while the treadmill can help you dial in pace with laser-like precision. Much like switching up your running shoes, varying where you run can decrease running-related overuse injuries.

7. Get fast first

If you’re an experienced half marathoner targeting a PR this year, work on improving your speed at shorter distances by training like a 5K/10K runner in the first four to six weeks of your half-marathon training cycle. By emphasizing shorter interval workouts and quicker tempo runs before you start lengthening your long run and piling on more weekly mileage, you will greatly improve your speed and efficiency, which will make the five to six weeks of half-marathon-specific training far more effective. The faster you are over 5K and 10K, the better you’ll be able to handle your goal half-marathon race pace.

8. Practice at race pace

The above statement seems like a given, but many runners, even experienced ones, will train either far slower or much faster than the pace they hope to maintain for 13.1 miles and then wonder why they couldn’t do so on race day. Like anything else in life, practice makes perfect! In the six to eight weeks prior to race day, mix some race-pace running into your weekly schedule in the form of tempo runs (a continuous 4- to 8-mile run at your goal half-marathon pace), interval workouts at race pace, or long runs that finish at goal pace the last 2 to 4 miles when your legs are tired.

9. Experiment with fuel

Nutrition is far from an exact science and it’s important to experiment with fueling and hydration strategies prior to race day. The last thing you want is to have an upset stomach after you take off from the starting line. Do your research and plan ahead — know which sports drink and gels will be on the race course and practice using those products if you don’t plan on carrying supplies with you. Over the course of 13.1 miles, your tank will run low and it’s important that you fill it well beforehand and know what (and how much) to take in to stay topped off during the race.

10. Don’t overdo long runs

The long run is one of the first workouts runners think of when they think of training for a half marathon. And why wouldn’t it be? Thirteen miles is a long way! Long runs are indeed an important cornerstone of any half-marathon training program, but it’s an element that can be easily overdone, whether you’re a beginner or a veteran. How do you avoid this? Plan your training in three-week cycles: Build the length of your weekly long run by 1 to 3 miles for two weeks in a row before scaling it back 3 to 6 miles in the third week. For beginners, aim to build your long run up to 10 to 12 miles two weeks prior to race day, while 13 to 16 will be plenty for most experience runners.

11. Study the course

A general wouldn’t go into battle blind and a runner shouldn’t go into a race without knowing the course he or she is about to take on for the first time. Learn as much as you can about your chosen race course in the weeks leading up to your goal event, and try to simulate those elements in some of your key workouts. Is the course hilly or flat? Are there lots of turns? Does it get narrow in spots? Will there be a strong wind? These are all important details worth knowing before race day. Prepare accordingly and don’t get caught by surprise after taking off from the start line!

12. Train your mental muscle

The most important thing you can take to the starting line with you on race day is the confidence that you’re ready to achieve you goal. Just as you practice running race pace in training, or tackling a tough uphill, it’s important to work on your mental fitness as well. Visualize race day in training: See yourself on the course hitting goal pace, taking in nutrition and strategizing how you’ll respond when your legs start screaming at you to stop. Gain confidence from all the work that you’re putting into achieving your goal. Being mentally fit allows your physical fitness to manifest itself on the race course.

13. Run negative splits

A sound, basic goal for any half marathoner is to finish the race faster than you started. Not only does it feel good to fly across the finish line, but starting conservatively for the first few miles will also keep you from depleting your energy stores too early in the race and allow you to finish strong. A good plan of attack for negative splitting a race is to run the first 2 miles 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower than your goal race pace, build up to goal pace by mile 3 and finish faster than goal pace for the final 5K. It doesn’t just work for beginners: Nearly every world record ever run for the half marathon has been achieved by running negative splits.

Congratulations! Crossing the finish line of a half marathon, whether it’s your first time or your 15th, is a huge accomplishment and something to celebrate. But don’t stop there. After you’ve had some time to soak in the entire race experience and evaluate your training leading up to it, start strategizing for your next 13.1-mile adventure. We all have room for improvement, and chasing a new personal best or working on your weaknesses in training can present a new, fulfilling challenge. Running a half marathon shouldn’t be a one-and-done deal—embrace the process of preparing for the event and making training and racing a part of your lifestyle. The best part about half marathons is that, unlike the marathon, you can do several in the same calendar year without massive wear and tear. Consider making your next half marathon a destination race as part of a vacation.

Photo: The Eiger Ultra Trail

And so, in no particular order, here are the 50 best races in the world!

1. The Big Five Marathon

A 26.2-mile safari through spectacular savannah in one of Africa’s ‘big five’ game reserves offers the chance to spot elephants, rhino, buffalo, lions and leopards as you pound the undulating dirt underfoot. Prepare for a fence-free, complete immersion into one of nature’s more incredible environments.

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2. Paris Marathon

A suitably grand affair with over 35,000 runners starting on the Champs-Elysees, then following a course beside the Seine and past some of the city’s finest eye-candy, including the Place de la Bastille, the Louvre and Place de la Concorde. Plus there’s the impossibly Gallic touch of locals serving wine and cheese to runners in the final miles.

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3. The Dipsea Race

America’s oldest trail race is a mere 7.4 miles long but so steeped in its own unique mythology it has to be on every runner’s bucket list. The scenery is California’s finest greenery, and a course that’s stepped and single-file narrow in places plus age and gender handicapping mean anyone has a shot of winning.

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4. Niagara Falls Marathon

A course that spans two countries, starting in the US city of Buffalo and finishing at the edge of the Falls in Canada, takes you through the beautiful Niagara Park and twice past the star attraction. Pretty hard to top for ‘wow factor’, though we can’t begin to imagine how much you’ll need the toilet throughout.

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5. Star Wars Half Marathon

A short time from now in a country not too far away…you can dress up and run surrounded by Darth, Chewie and the rest of the cast from the galaxy’s best-loved space saga. The 13.1-miler through the Disneyland Resort is huge fun and the medals are, well, out of this world. Two-man Jabba costume anyone?

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6. Vienna City Marathon

A hidden gem among city marathons, the superb course starts among the skyscrapers of the UN complex, crosses the 864m Reichsbrücke bridge over the flowing blue of the Danube, then heads through the greenery of Prater Park, past the Opera House and on up Vienna’s River Valley to Schönbrunn Castle before returning via some of the city’s stellar architecture, including the Town Hall, Burg Theatre and University.

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7. We Ran It: French Riviera Marathon

‘Not hard to see what attracted me to this one, and France’s second largest 26.2 certainly didn’t disappoint. It’s a beautiful coast-hugging course starting on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice and winding its way along the curves of the Cote d’Azur to finish at the Boulevard de la Croisette in Cannes. This isn’t a London or a New York – support is sporadic and there are long sections where the soundtrack is just wind, waves and runner’s footfalls, but I found that this combined with the sea views, the marinas and a trot through the timeless beauty of Antibes made for an aesthetically rich and soulful ‘big race’ experience.

Organisation is impressively slick and clock-watchers may note that the course is uncrowded and pancake, sea-level flat, bar a modest climb at the Cap d’Antibes and a quad-searing bump cruelly close to the finish. I was even able to snag a Champagne-justifying PB.’- Joe Mackie, Deputy Editor

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8. Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc

The daddy of Alpine trail races traverses three countries (France, Switzerland and Italy) in 168km around Europe’s highest peak. You’ll need to amass qualifying points just to get on the start line and commit over 30 brutal hours to get to the finish, but your reward is one of running’s greatest experiences.

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9. Sea Wheeze Half Marathon

The organisers describe this as a ‘yoga.run.party distilled though the wild imaginations of curiosity-drunk rebel scientists.’ Translation: in addition to a stunning course – 11km next to the Pacific and the rest showcasing beautiful, vibrant Vancouver – you get party vibes, yoga on the beach, a slap-up post-race brunch and a Sunset Festival in the evening.

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10. Moscow Marathon

A flat, fast course on closed and in places exceptionally wide roads with a modest 7,000 field ticks PB-chasers boxes, while sightseers can tick off must-sees including the White House, Bolshoi Theatre, former KGB building, Polytechnic Museum, the Kremlin and the Cathedrals of St. Basil’s Cathedral and Christ the Saviour.

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11. Inca Trail Marathon

True once-in-a-lifetime stuff – a measured, marshalled and supported 26.2 starting at the Llactapata ruins and following breathtaking (in both senses) Andean trails through classic Inca sites all the way to the world’s greatest photo-op finish at Macchu Picchu.

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12. Jungfrau Marathon

Starting at just over 500m and finishing at 2100m, the gradient profile of this classic mountain marathon can only be described as ‘punchy’. Still, your inevitable ‘personal worst’ means more time to savour the raw beauty of the Swiss Alps as you make your way from Interlaken up through Wengen and the Kleine Scheidegg mountain pass. And the last kilometre is downhill.

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13-17 The Majors

There are five more ‘Marathon Majors’ besides London, and no global bucket list is complete without them.

New York City Marathon
Starting on Staten Island under NYPD helicopters and finishing in Central Park, this takes you through all five boroughs and the greatest crowd support on earth – nyrr.org 

Boston Marathon
Steeped in history, with simply qualifying a badge of honour, a course that blends rural new England with a city centre finish, and a unique atmosphere defiantly enhanced by recent tragedy. – baa.org 

Berlin Marathon
The scene of 10 world records, but it’s much more than fast and flat, taking you through Berlin’s sights and energetic crowds, starting and finishing near the Brandenburg Gate – bmw-berlin-marathon.com 

Tokyo Marathon
The most recently added and unquestionably most exotic major immerses you in the intoxicating ‘otherness’ of Tokyo’s sights and sounds, including the serenely polite applause of the crowds – marathon.tokyo

Chicago Marathon
A great course taking in 29 city neighborhoods, all competing to deliver the best atmosphere, as only our American friends can. It attracts runners from more than 100 countries – chicagomarathon.com

18. Galapagos Marathon

Along with all the natural wonders on display – it’s the only race in the world where you’ll see giant tortoises and sea lions along the way – there’s a lovely human connection at this small, intimate event on San Cristobal Island. All international runners sponsor a local by paying their entrance fee.

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19. Mount Everest Marathon

The world’s highest 26.2 starts at 5,184m, close to Everest Base Camp, but you do get a net downhill by the finish in Namche Bazaar. The surroundings are as truly epic as you’d expect in the Himalayas and following the tragic events in Nepal this year, you’ll be supporting the recovery of the local economy/community through the money you spend and raise through the Everest Marathon Fund.

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20. We Ran It: Marathon du Médoc

‘If Withnail had been a runner rather than a failed actor, this would undoubtedly have been his favourite race. I had 26 opportunities to drink the ‘finest wines available to humanity’ in a race that traces a stunningly beautiful circuit of over 50 Bordeaux chateaux, with each aid station serving up the region’s famous plonk as well as the rather more prosaic water. The big dilemma was whether to go for an even split (have the same amount of wine throughout) or negative split (neck more in the second half). The organisers encourage you to be as slow as possible to literally drink in the experience, so forget about time, savour some steak, cheese or oysters at the gourmet food stations, enjoy the moment and worry about the gout tomorrow. Oh, and did I mention you also have to do it in fancy dress?’ – Andy Dixon, Editor

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21. Two Oceans Race

What is rightly renowned as one of the world’s most picturesque courses takes you via Chapman’s Peak, Hout Bay and Constantia Nek to showcase Cape Town’s beautiful scenery and deliver grandstand views of the two Oceans in question – the Indian and Atlantic. The distance (52km), terrain and gradient profile make this a serious challenge and the atmosphere generated by the 11,000 runners and enthusiastic crowds is really special.

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22. North Pole Marathon

As adventure marathon experiences go it’s pretty hard to top being helicoptered in to the Geographic North Pole, where you’ll run your 26.2 on an ice sheet, with only 6-12 feet of frozen water between you and the immense depths of the Arctic Ocean below.

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23. Volcano Marathon

Run 26.2 miles in the Atacama Desert – the driest place on earth <and> four kilometres above sea level – traversing giant sand dunes and rocks reminiscent of the surface of Mars, while enjoying panoramic views of 10 volcanoes. Temperatures reach 30C so you have to carry a hydration pack, despite the water stations.

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24. Western States 100

This 100-miler starts in Squaw Valley and takes you through the high trails, mountain passes, canyons and river crossings of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Make it to the finish in Auburn in under 30 hours and you get a bronze belt buckle; under 24 and it’s silver.

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25. Eiger Ultra Trail

Staged in the shadow of the mighty Eiger, this is a beauty of a beast with 6,700m of ascent over 101km and a gradient profile that looks like the read-out from a Sepp Blatter polygraph. The weekend festival of trail running also offers a 51km/3100m Panorama Trail and a 16km/960m Pleasure Trail, plus mini races for kids.

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26. Kilimanjaro Marathon

Now in it’s 13th year, this race is a slick and very well supported affair. With mighty Kilimanjaro in the background the route takes you on good roads from the town of Moshi, Tanzania, through small farms and villages, and past banana and coffee plantations. There is also a half marathon and a 5K fun run.

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27. Antarctic Ice Marathon

Indulge your inner Shackleton with a personal conquest of the planet’s last great wilderness. You’ll be running at 80 degrees south, just a few hundred miles from the South Pole at the foot of the towering Ellsworth mountains, in average temperatures of -20C with the chill of the Katabatic winds. Don’t expect much in the way of crowd support though – not even penguins venture this far south.

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28. Borneo International Marathon

A destination that ranks right up there on the exotic adventure scale and a route that’s suitably breathtaking, winding along the coastline of the South China Sea. The payback for an admittedly brutal 3am start is that you’ll be rewarded with the sight of the sun rising behind the majestic Mount Kinabalu.

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29. Melbourne Half Marathon

A gem Down Under with 12,000 runners starting on the memorably monikered Batman Avenue (sadly not named after the Caped Crusader but a 19th-century Australian entrepreneur), looping around the city’s lake, passing the William Barack Bridge twice and doing a circuit of the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) to finish.

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30. The Red Bull 400

You may be pleasantly surprised to hear that while the ‘400’ in the name does refer to distance – it’s metres, not miles. But the event, to be held in Canada this year, has a serious sting in the tail: it’s a sprint up a grass-laid ski-jump slope and the higher you go, the steeper it gets. Enormous fun and if you can reach the top without resorting to all fours you’ve got world-class quads.

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31. Outback Marathon

Staged on the bush tracks, fire trails, sand dunes and soft red earth of the continent’s otherworldly red centre. You’ll get a runner’s eye view of Uluru (Ayers Rock) and also grab more than one eyeful of the equally impressive domed rock formations of Kata Tjuta.

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32. Maratón de Quito

At 2,800m above sea level, Quito, the capital of Equador, is the highest capital city in the world. It’s a hilly, bumpy affair as befits a city built close to a volcano (Pichincha), but the route gives you a superb tour of the beautiful, well-preserved historic centre.

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33. Bahamas Marathon

As you might imagine, a marathon here Bahamas is a pretty laidback experience. Starting at 6am, you’ll get some decent mileage under your waistband before the sun gets too oppressive, and as you make your way along the fast, flat course you’ll enjoy miles of ocean views, swaying palm trees and gleaming white sands.

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34. Maui Oceanfront Marathon

Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian islands, but this is a low-key marathon (among the advice to runners is to ‘Hang loose, you’re in Maui’) limited to just 600 runners, which generates an intimate feel. Nonetheless, with its beautiful setting, this is a very special event – and you may even spot a whale.

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35. Creemore Vertical Challenge

A beautifully brutal trail run in Ontario, Canada. Whether you choose the 25K, 50K of new 75K option it’s hot, hilly and painful (the cutoff for the 25K is eight hours!) but enormous fun. As you near the end you can either cross a suspension bridge or tackle the Mad River. The clue is in the name.

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36. Satara Hill Half Marathon

This utterly captivating half marathon will take you from the centre of the Indian city of Satara towards the Kaas Plateau – a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its profusion of wild flowers. The challenging route will also take you past waterfalls and through low cloud. Beautiful, but tough.

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37. Waiheke Half Marathon

Waiheke, a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland, New Zealand, is known as the ‘fittest island in the world’, and the islanders certainly put on a cracker of a trail event. Distances range from a 5k to the half marathon, all run on a mix of dirt trails and road, taking in the amazing scenery of the island.

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38. Oman Desert Marathon

165 kilometers in 6 self-sufficient stages from the Oasis of Bidiyah to the finish on the shore of the Arabian Sea, discover the most remote and untouched sands and the highest dunes of the Oman Desert on the tracks of the ancient trade caravans.

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39. Bagan Temple Marathon

A voyage of discovery through central Myanmar, home to the 2,000 Buddhist temples which remain from the temple-building boom of the 11th-13th centuries, when over 10,000 were erected. Running through this slice of history is like entering another world – made all the more pleasurable by the locals coming out in force to support as you pass through rural villages.

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40. Cruce de los Andes

Crossing 100km of the Andes over three days, in teams of two or solo, is a serious challenge; runners have to deal not only with the altitude but very unpredictable weather. However, the constantly changing, but always epic vistas of mountains, volcanoes, forests, lakes and valleys will certainly help on the route from Chile to Argentina.

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41. Sao Paulo Marathon

Sau Paulo is a bustling, energetic metropolis which becomes even more so at marathon time when 12,000 runners from around the globe converge to lap up the adoration of the large crowds of ‘Paulistas’ while they take in city sights such as the the 72m Obelisk monument and the mighty Chegada river.

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42. Seychelles Eco Friendly Marathon

There are a few reasons to the Indian Ocean paradise of palm-tree covered islands, white-sand beaches, spectacular weather and this marathon. The route takes you along the east coast of Seychelles’ principal island Mahé, between forested hillsides and the sapphire ocean. Sound OK?

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43. Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset

Whether you choose the 42km or 100km option, your time limit is the same: complete your course round the stunning Hovsgol National Park in the 18 hours between – you guessed it – sunrise and sunset. You may see see moose, bears, yaks, ibex and camels.

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44. Catalina Island 10K

Hop over to the beautiful island of Santa Catalina, just off the coast of Los Angeles, and you can take in this fabulous 10K jaunt round the streets of Avalon and cool off by the ornate fountain at the finish.

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45. Phuket Island Marathon

The strapline for this multi-distance event is: ‘Run Paradise’, and the marathon, half, and 10.5K options all offer up some truly heavenly sights, including rubber and pineapple plantations, waterfalls, stretches of white sand coastline and, in the case of the marathon, Sirinat National Park.

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46. We Ran It: Hood To Coast Relay

‘If you only ever do one long-distance relay race, please make it this one. It is simply – and I choose this word carefully – epic: a 197-mile, 12-person journey from the top of Mound Hood in Oregon to the small town of Seaside on the coast. There’s a 36-hour limit and each team member runs three legs of varying length and difficulty, totaling around 17 miles per person. The wonder of the scenery en route is almost incidental to the main business of a) making sure your team vans which travel between checkpoints are suitably outrageously decorated, and, b) ensuring you do your fair share of clocking ‘roadkill’ – overtaking runners along the way and marking the numbers prison-style on the side of the van as you go. The finish on the beach will see tears, smelly team hugs, craft beer and giant hotdogs, to crown what I promise will be one of the highlights of your running career.’ – Kerry McCarthy, Commissioning Editor

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47. Italy Coast to Coast

This stonker of a team race is a four-day, 343km event that takes teams of up to four runners from the Adriatic on Italy’s east coast to the Tyrrhenian Sea, on the west, passing through Emilia-Romagna, Marche, Umbria and Tuscany. It’s essentially a self-powered voyage through the heart of rural Italy so, yes, that means some of the world’s very finest refuelling along the way.

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48. Napa Valley to Sonoma Half Marathon

Do we really need to sell this? The 7am start means it’s probably a little early for a pre-race tipple but the route, which starts at the Cuvaison Carneros Winery and takes you on a rolling odyssey through hundreds of acres of vineyards and past the Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Preserve and Mt Tamalpais, will make sure you’re ready to sample the goods at the wine festival awaiting you at the finish.

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49. Barcelona Marathon

A showcase of one of Europe’s most beautiful and culturally rich cities, with the March date meaning the weather will be clement but not oppressive, so you can get on with enjoying sights such as Montjuic Park’s Magic Fountain, Barcelona FC’s Camp Nou and Gaudi’s staggering Sagrada Familia.

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50. City2Surf

In terms of numbers, it’s the biggest race on the planet, attracting more than 80,000 runners in recent years. If that’s not reason enough to stick it on your to-run list, the course is a belter, starting in Sydney’s Hyde Park and winding through city neighbourhoods like Kings Cross to the waterfronts of Double Bay and Rose Bay, then to the Pacific coast and a finish at the iconic surf of Bondi Beach. Plus the unusual 14km distance means you’re pretty much guaranteed a PB.

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Ten Top Running Races in the World

Runners of all levels are always searching for travel destinations that incorporate a fabulous vacation getaway and a great running race. While elite runners will tend to travel to cities that offer the biggest prize money, it doesn’t mean that other runners can enjoy the same races. Obviously there are far too many outstanding races but any of the following ten races are worthy of consideration and among the best cities in the world in which to visit.

1) Paris Marathon, Paris, France – Who wouldn’t want to run a race in one of the greatest cities in the world? The Paris Marathon should be high on anyone’s list and first time visitors to the City of Lights will be pleased to know that the course traverses past all of the most important sites, including the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Lourve Museum and of course, the Eiffel Tower.

2) The Boston Marathon, Boston, USA – The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathons and unquestionably one of the most famous running races in the world. Unfortunately for the casual runner, most race entrants have to qualify in order to be among the approximately 20,000 runners at the starting line. But for many runners it is one of the most desired races to be a part of.

3) The Bay to Breakers,– San Francisco, USA-This popular 12K race is among the world’s largest in terms of participants and once held the attendance record. For anyone who loves running, this race is one that first time visitors will never forget. Many runners are dressed in all types of costumes, which makes for a Halloween-like occasion. First time visitors can expect to see people dressed as Batman, Spiderman, Elvis, Lady Gaga or practically any pop culture figure they can think of.

4) Berlin Half Marathon, Berlin, Germany – While the Berlin Marathon is a more respected race and one of the five World Marathon Majors, the Berlin Half Marathon is one race in Germany that is growing in popularity. Held in April when the weather is normally perfect for a personal best, the race passes by many of the German capital’s attractions including the Berliner Dom, the Brandenburg Gate and the Kaiser Wilhelm Church.

5) Tokyo Marathon, Tokyo, Japan – This popular marathon held in the nation’s capital attracts more than 30,000 entrants and allows everyone up to seven hours to complete the course. The course winds through many of the city’s important sites such as the Tokyo Tower, the Asakusa Gate and the Imperial Palace. For runners who still want to experience the Tokyo Marathon but want a shorter distance, there is a 10K race but entries are limited.

6) Cursa El Corte Ingles, Barcelona, Spain – This race is the largest in Europe. Like the Berlin Half Marathon, the nearly 11K race in Barcelona, Spain, is held in April. Its most recent event had more than 65,000 participants race through some of the cities most important sites including the Olympic Stadium and the Plaza de Cataunya. In 1994, there were nearly 110,000 participants, which at the time was the world’s largest in terms of participants in history.

7) The Lisbon Half Marathon, Lisbon, Portugal – This half marathon in the capital of Portugal has a very fast course and is another race where a runner can attempt a personal best. In fact the current men’s world’s record for the half marathon was set in this race in 2010. Held in March, the 21K course crosses the 25 de Abril Bridge, which crosses the Tagus River and closely resembles the appearance of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Over 30,000 participants were entered in the most recent race

8) City2Surf, Sydney, Australia– One of the best running races in the Land Dow Under is City2Surf 14K race through the streets of the state capital of New South Wales. This is a huge event and more than 85,000 participants are expected to participate in the scenic race that ends at the famed Bondi Beach, one of the best beaches in Australia.

9) Rome Marathon, Rome, Italy – It would be difficult not to include a race in Italy, especially it’s largest and most important city. What’s makes this event even more attractive is its RomaFun 4K non-competive race attracts more than 85,000 runners and walkers. One of the cities most famous structures, the Coloseum is the backdrop for the starting line and once the race begins, will pass near other popular sites such as the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and the Vatican.

10 London Marathon, London, England – The London Marathon is among the five World Marathon Majors and is among the world’s largest running races. The event is currently the Guinness World Record holder for the largest annual fundraising event and has raised over £500 million. Participants will be able to enjoy all of the city’s top attractions, in particular Big Ben and Parliament, Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace.

What Are The Different Types of Running Races and Which One is Right for Me?

From 1 mile to ultra runs, there are numerous options when choosing the right type of running race for you. Running, although a mostly solo sport, can become fiercely competitive when it becomes a race. There are several categories, distances, sizes, prices, and travel accommodations to consider when choosing the right running race. This does not include your own goals, experience level, and personal attitude when it comes to running. We break down the different types of races that are out there and how to determine to pick the right race for you.

Here is a brief overview of some of the more popular running race types amongst the multitude of different types of races that are available.

5 kilometers (km): This shorter distance race is among one of the most popular types of races. They can be found on a local level to an international level. The race can be about speed, can carry a theme or support a local charity making this race distance popular with all runners from beginners to the experienced.

Fun Run: Fun runs are usually a themed or obstacle course type race. Often high numbers of runners participate in many waves throughout the day and partake in costumes, colored powder, mud, water, or physical obstacles. These races are meant to be amusing, a bit physical, but with much less focus on the actual running.

10km: A mid-level distance, the 10km provides people a race to push into the double digits mark. Increasing length means increasing time and force on the body as well. However, the distance is great in providing a way to progress a runner’s endurance or push to achieve a personal best in preparation for a half marathon.

Half Marathon: The first of the long-distance races, the 21km race is usually the most popular among all the long distances. The races are usually held in fairly large towns and cities with an increased field size from that of 5-10km. With more participants, this typically means more support along and off the course from volunteers to spectators. This distance is more of a major event by gathering both elites and amateurs together with most races awarding you a finisher’s medal and a follow-up afterparty.

Full Marathon: The champion of long distances. Some consider it the ultimate long-distance achievement with only about 1% of the world’s population participating and finishing the 42km distance. Marathons require long training programs, anywhere from 12-20 weeks before race day, and the average finishing time is around 4 hours and 30 minutes while elite finishing times are just minutes above 2 hours. Some races are prestigious and require a previous qualifying finish time, some have a lottery to enter, and some are open for all. The price tags to run marathons are often more expensive to that of the lower mileage races because a marathon requires a part of the city to shut down for the majority of the day and utilize high numbers of support workers from emergency respondents to waste management workers. Often this distance requires a bit of travel and time before the day of the race to do race bib pick-up at an expo and often the day after for rest and recovery, making the marathon a weekend event. The reward of tech shirts, finisher’s medals, and race photos are nice souvenirs to accomplishing such a distance.

Trail Run: Trail runs range in length from single digits to over 100km plus. The difference with trail runs versus road runs is that you perform the run on usually a hilly or mountainous hiking trail. Technical difficulty can vary in degree from weather, altitude, and uneven surfaces. Trail runs focus on nature and terrain more so than about speed.

Ultra Run: If you are an extreme runner and looking to always push your limits in distances you can set your sights on the ultra runs. They range in length from 50km to 1000km, covering a day to 10 days. This type of race is for a small majority of people, in good health with a very strong running base.

There is no right or wrong when picking a race but picking the right race for you can be decided on many factors. The first step is to figure out what type of runner you are which can help you choose the right race and goal for you.

Beginner Runner: This type of runner is someone new to running or is coming back to running after a long period off either due to life circumstances or a serious injury. The focus for this person will be to get the body gradually adapted to high impact activity in a slow, progressive, and safe manner. This type of runner may use a walk and run combination and his or her goal may be time or distance.

Best Races for You: 5km or Fun Runs

Casual Runner: This type of runner goes out maybe a few times a week for either health maintenance or stress relief. The focus of this person will be in maintaining a laid-back attitude towards his or her runs which can include solo lunch runs for an hour to running only weekly with a running club and having beer and pizza after. This type of runner typically enjoys fun runs that are theme focused.

Best Races for You: 5km, 10km, Fun Runs, Trail Runs

Health Oriented Runner: This type of runner is someone who has started running as the main focus in weight-loss or has become interested in improving or maintaining his or her cardiovascular conditioning. The focus of this person will be to begin or maintain a healthy lifestyle and will be varying his or her running program from easy runs to speed and hill work while also focusing on cross-training and strength training.

Best Races for You: All 5km to Ultra Runs, including Fun Runs and Trail Runs

Travel Runner: This type of runner is someone who may have a bit of experience in racing and wants to combine adventure and racing. The focus of this person is fulfilling his or her wanderlust and running passions, ultimately pursuing a “run-cation”. This type of runner does not mind the fatigue involved with travel and looks forward to pushing his or her limits possibly in another time zone.

Best Races for You: Half Marathons, Full Marathons, Trail Runs, Ultra Runs

Personal Best Runner: This type of runner is someone who has experience in racing. The focus of this person is to train with a purpose and to always strive for a personal best time. This type of runner is extremely dedicated to his or her training program and is also appropriately fueling himself or herself with proper nutrition during his or her efforts.

Best Races for You: 5km to Full Marathon distances

Extreme Runner: This type of runner is someone into extreme sports and constantly looking to challenge himself or herself both physically and mentally. This type of runner enjoys long, frequent runs. This type of runner will be looking to push their limits with run-streaks or longer and longer distances.

Best Races for You: Trail Runs and Ultra Runs

In conclusion, the best way to determine which type of running race is right for you is to first determine the goal you want to accomplish. Next, take into account your experience and the level you are at as a runner. Then determine the financial and personal strains you are willing to accept as part of your training and preparation for race day. Finally, register, train, and finish your race!


Best first time marathons

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