Hit the trails or don a scary costume in one these late-fall races in your region.
Hokie Half Marathon and 5K
Oct.12; Blacksburg, Va.
Virginia Tech proud? Show off your Hokie spirit, in honor of the school’s mascot, by participating in the second annual race, run on both roads and trails in the areas surrounding the university campus. With a fast course and a hefty $1,000 prize purse doled out to the top three men and women, expect a top-notch field (last year’s male and female half marathon winners clocked in at a speedy 1:07:25 and 1:16:11, respectively). But no matter your pace, live music along the way will keep you moving toward the finish line, where you’ll earn the one-of-a-kind Hokiebird finisher medal.
Spook Hill Cider & Wine 4 Mile
Oct. 18; Burkittsville, Md.
If racing through the town that served as the setting for the “Blair Witch Project” isn’t spooky enough, then try running through a Civil War-era cemetery in the early light of the morning. That’s just what you’ll get in this 4-miler through this sleepy, historic town outside of Frederick. However, this race is less scary and more saucy—runners will loop through both the Boordy Vineyard and the Distillery Lane Ciderworks’ orchards. The first 250 pre-registered runners will receive wine glasses, and the “Mean Runner” award will go to the participant who finishes smack-dab in the middle of the pack. Cheers to that!
DC Half and Half Marathon
Nov. 8; Washington, D.C.
Move over Gu and Powerbars! Mid-race fueling takes on a new meaning in this unique event where runners test their endurance—and the strength of their stomachs—by running 6.55 miles while eating a “half-smoke” chili dog with onions at Ben’s Chili Bowl, and then running another 6.55 miles to the finish line. The chili dog and a side of chips must be completely consumed before participants are cleared to continue on (veggie options are available for meat-free runners). But this race isn’t all about gluttonous bragging rights; proceeds go to ScholarCHIPS, which provides school funding for children of incarcerated parents in D.C.
Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis Marathon and 1/2
Oct. 18–19; St. Louis
Get a taste of St. Louis at this Rock ‘n’ Roll event, which also features a 5K this year. Each course will offer a great tour of the city, and start and finish in downtown with a beautiful view of the arch. A two-day health and fitness expo will feature more than 60 exhibitors, free samples and the latest in running gear. On race day, runners will be entertained by musical acts all along the course, as well as a headline concert after the event at the post-race celebration.
Frank Lloyd Wright Races
Oct. 19; Oak Park, Ill.
Celebrating its 38th running this year, the Frank Lloyd Wright Races offer flat and fast courses that highlight the buildings of the city’s famed architect. The 5K and 10K runs start just east of the Oak Park River Forest High School, which is the site of the post-race pancake breakfast. All runners will receive a long-sleeve race T-shirt, a jam-packed swag bag and a coupon for a free scoop of ice cream from Culvers. A youth 1-mile fun run will also be held for kids ages 7 to 14.
Hot Chocolate 15K/5K
Nov. 9; Chicago
Chicago’s sweetest race returns to Grant Park and this year all runners will receive a men’s or women’s fleece-lined, full-zip hooded sweatshirt with entry. The post-race celebration will once again feature hot chocolate and fondue to help quickly replenish all those calories you just burned. Both the 15K and 5K feature downtown courses that start and finish in Grant Park, plus this year’s runners will receive free photos and videos of themselves after the race.
Xterra Trail Run Series
Oct. 12; Colorado Springs
Held in charming Cheyenne Mountain State Park, this multi-course Xterra trail event hosts a marathon, half marathon and 5K along rolling, prairie-grass hills. The short course is an ideal off-road intro for younger runners. Expect twists and turns on well-maintained singletrack featuring a mix of open space and wooded terrain that will keep you on your toes. In addition, take home a high-quality technical shirt and finisher’s medal, and stay for the Xterra outdoor expo at the main trailhead’s start-finish line. Besides the trail series there’s also camping, biking, picnicking, nature and archery available in the area.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon and 1/2
Oct. 18; Denver
Part of the international Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon series, Denver never disappoints. Known for cool conditions, this autumn race takes runners on the urban course of their choice between a full marathon, half, the all-new 10K option and even a 5K or two-person relay. The party starts and ends at Civic Center Park in the heart of downtown with lively entertainment, big mountain views and plenty of supporters lining the city streets. A recently revamped elite program, drawing some of the world’s fastest runners, adds to the excitement of this always inspiring event.
HRCA Backcountry Wilderness Half Marathon
Nov. 8; Highlands Ranch, Colo.
The suburban community of Highlands Ranch shows runners its more scenic side with this trail run along the area’s pristine open space trails. Featuring views of the Front Range and Denver skyline, this capped race takes half marathoners through a single hard-packed dirt loop, with a climb at the start, a few rolling hills in between and a fast descent at the end. Beer from the local Grist Brewing Company awaits runners at the finish line. The last of the eight-event Highlands Ranch Race Series, this race forges on in sunshine, rain, sleet or snow.
Mohawk Hudson Marathon
Oct. 12; Albany, N.Y.
There may not be a better scenic fall marathon that’s faster than the Mohawk Hudson. This race’s USATF-certified, point-to-point course contains 18 miles of paved bike trail with many forgiving downhill sections, making it an excellent Boston qualifier. The race starts in Schenectady, N.Y., and finishes in Albany with stunning views of the majestic Hudson River along the route. The marathon is part of the Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club Grand Prix Series.
Mount Desert Marathon
Oct.19; Bar Harbor, Maine
With all its beautiful foliage, Maine is the place to be in October. If you’re planning a trip there and want a challenging race, then consider giving this marathon a try. It’s hilly, rugged, rocky and cold, but race organizers insist this racecourse is well worth the effort. Race participants are rewarded with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, lakes and quaint New England villages throughout Acadia National Park. Despite the difficult conditions, the race still boasts some of the fastest winning times in the state.
Princeton Half Marathon
Nov. 2; Princeton, N.J.
This fun race is all about history. The course takes runners past famous Princeton landmarks such as Albert Einstein’s house, the Princeton battlefield and the university campus itself as it runs through the town’s beautiful tree-lined streets, which will be packed with cheering spectators. Race proceeds benefit HiTOPS, New Jersey’s only adolescent-focused health and education center.
Elk-King’s Mountain Traverse
Oct. 18; Tillamook, Ore.
About an hour west of Portland, the Elk-King’s Mountain Traverse 15-mile trail run offers racers an opportunity to summit both Elk Mountain and King’s Mountain, as well as cover 5,800 feet of elevation gain in the Tillamook Forest. If that’s not challenging enough for you, the race also offers a 50K that includes 7,500 feet of elevation gain. Part of the Northwest Mountain Trail Series, this race is one of 10 trail courses that exude the laid-back mountain running lifestyle. Post-race festivities include a barbecue and prizes.
Columbia Gorge Marathon and Half
Oct. 26; Columbia Gorge, Ore.
The Columbia Gorge Marathon and Half is known for its awe-inspiring sights, including waterfalls, the Columbia River highway, Rowena Viewpoint (with east and west views of the Columbia River Gorge) and the Columbia River itself. The race bills itself as small and intimate with big-race company amenities, which means the event caps its participation numbers at 1,500 for both races. There is a walking option for half marathon participants. And don’t forget the post-race food, which includes apples, pears and cider from local orchards; homemade soup and bread; a Taco del Mar burrito and taco bar; and chips and salsa.
Get Your Rear in Gear 5K
Nov. 2; Seattle
Part of a movement sparked by Kristin Tabor, the founder of the Colon Cancer Coalition who lost her 46-year-old sister to colon cancer, this 5K has a dual meaning. That is, it will not only help to erase some calories from that one-too-many helpings of leftover Halloween candy the night before, but it will also help raise money for colon cancer awareness in Seattle. More importantly, the race uses the money it raises for colon cancer within the Seattle community for early detection programs and programs for those already suffering from the disease.
Lake Powell Half Marathon
Oct. 18; Page, Ariz.
For a scenic half marathon, this could be the race for you. About 3.5 miles into the race you’ll run into Rim Trail and be greeted with spectacular views of the lake. Near the end of the race, equally stunning sights along Lake Shore Drive await as you wind your way toward the Stateline Marina at the border of Arizona and Utah. The best part of the race, though, is the lack of human civilization and running through some of the country’s most beautiful natural landmarks, including Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell’s Rainbow Bridge.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon
Oct. 26; Los Angeles
This Rock ‘n’ Roll race dubs itself the world’s largest Halloween-themed half marathon. Hence the hordes of zombies, vampires and skeletons who show up at the race, which also includes a 5K. Better yet, the event includes a contest that judges the categories of best overall, rock star, superhero, most original and scariest costumes. As with all Rock ’n’ Roll events, the race will include killer entertainment along the course and a festive after-party. If running in a costume isn’t enough for you, join the race’s Team ASPCA to raise money for animals in need everywhere.
Nov. 1; Sacramento, Calif.
For most people, gunning for a good workout or a new PR at your local 5K isn’t enough—there’s got to be a theme involved. Enter this bright, glow-in-the-dark night 5K that consists of starting the race dressed in white and then running through multiple “glow zones,” where race participants are doused with glowing neon colors (free of harmful chemicals). The race also includes an ultraviolet black light after-party, where the colors you wear add to the neon atmosphere.
Capital 2 Coast
Oct. 17–18; Austin, Texas
For a new kind of challenge, consider rounding up a team for a 223-mile relay from downtown Austin to the beaches of Corpus Christi, Texas. This race assigns three 4-to 9-mile legs to each runner on a team of eight to 12 people. In between each leg, two support vans transport the other runners to the various checkpoints. The longest relay in Texas and one of the most scenic in the country, Capital 2 Coast can’t be beat with its finish on the beach. All runners receive a piece of technical apparel and a finisher’s medal, as well as a great post-race party to greet the teams as their last runner completes the 223rd mile!
Marathon 2 Marathon
Oct. 25; Fort Stockton, Texas
Run along scenic Highway 385 in a 26.2-mile journey that takes runners through Big Bend Country from Fort Stockton to Marathon, Texas. Open to runners of all levels, the event also includes a 5K, 10K and half marathon option. What’s more, the race serves as a Boston qualifier for the speediest long-distance runners. With awards at the finish, along with a raucous street festival that includes live music and beer, this small-town event will make any runner feel at home.
The I Am Second Run
Nov. 1; Plano, Texas
While the name of this race may sound counterintuitive, the 5K and 10K run is all about friendly competition. It welcomes runners and walkers of all ability levels and paces, so consider recruiting a few friends to join your team and raise money for the I Am Second organization. Held at Oak Point Park and Amphitheater, this event allows you to take a jaunt through the scenic adjoined nature preserve, and at the same time do something good for your body, mind and soul.
AIDS Walk Atlanta & 5K Run
Oct. 19; Atlanta
Celebrate 24 years of running and walking at this charitable race that is considered the largest AIDS-related fundraising event in the southeastern U.S. Last year alone, the event raised more than $1.1 million to support local HIV/AIDS organizations. Held in the heart of midtown Atlanta, the 5K jaunt starts and ends at the 189-acre Piedmont Park. The run kicks off at 2 p.m., making it an ideal race for late-risers. Travel along some of the city’s most picturesque neighborhoods, through the midtown business district and along the edge of the massive urban green space before enjoying the post-race revelry.
Miami Beach Halloween Half Marathon & Freaky 4-Miler
Oct. 25; Miami
Add some spook to your sprint at this Halloween-themed race beginning at Jungle Island and ending at Miami Beach’s South Pointe Park. Dust off your Darth Vader getup and join the crowds of masked characters to take on the 13.1 and 4-mile route. The half marathon travels along the 395 Causeway and highlights popular destinations like Ocean Drive, Lincoln Road Mall, the Beach Walk and the Atlantic Ocean. At the finish, enjoy a post-race party at Nikki Beach and expect swag covered in Halloween flair, including a medal designed with a different “feature creature” each year.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Marathon, 1/2 Marathon & Relay
Nov. 8–9; Savannah, Ga.
Tour the charming streets of Savannah during this moving concert beginning at the historic city hall. Choose between a marathon, half marathon and two-person half marathon relay, or stick around for the 5K and 1-mile race the following day. To the beats of live local bands, put one foot in front of the other as you pass by some of the most iconic downtown squares. Marvel at the stunning mansions before reaching the finish line at storied Forsyth Park. Marathoners will also get a view of the Savannah State University campus and Daffin Park when they run past William Grayson Stadium. Bask in post-race runner’s high with refreshments and a concert at the finish-line stage.