Events

24 Must-Do March/April Races Across The U.S.

Kick off your spring and summer fitness goals by running one of these events.

Kick off your spring and summer fitness goals by running one of these events.

MID-ATLANTIC

Rock ‘n’ Roll USA marathon & 1/2 marathon
March 15, Washington, D.C.
runrocknroll.competitor.com/usa

Not only will thousands of runners hit the D.C. streets for this uber-popular marathon and half marathon, but even more will also join in for the inaugural Mini Marathon 5K. The jam-packed event also includes a “Kids Rock” mile run and a post-race concert by The Head and The Heart. Toss in the bands stationed at every mile of the race, and you’ll be rockin’ out all morning throughout the nation’s capital.

Cherry Pit 10-Mile Race
April 6, Edgewater, Md.
annapolisstriders.org

Didn’t get into Cherry Blossom this year? No problem — fit in a solid 10-miler at this event, a low-key, cheekily named race that’s part of the Annapolis Striders’ Championship Series. Now in its 34th year, the race offers a rolling, scenic loop course that starts and ends at South River High School.

Prison Break Dash
April 13, Lorton, Va.
prisonbreakdash.com

Make a break for it at this 5K and 10K on the grounds of the now-defunct Lorton Workhouse Correctional Facility. Fun features include a post-race “mug shot” photo op, as well as a costume contest. What’s more — all photos are available for free to participants online following the event. The Workhouse Arts Center, which features a variety of fantastic art, is also available to runners after the run.

MIDWEST

St. Paddy’s Day 5K and 8K
March 15, Chicago
stpaddysdayrunchicago.com

Chicago may be known for dying the river green for St. Patrick’s Day, but another holiday tradition has taken root in Lincoln Park. The 14th annual St. Paddy’s Day 5K and 8K returns to the lakefront this year to celebrate all thing Irish. Both races feature courses on the lakefront path, and the post-race celebration will offer both Irish-themed entertainment and authentic refreshments. Live music before and after the run will help you kick off St. Patrick’s Day right.

Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon
April 5, Springfield, Ill.
runabe.srrc.net

This annual half marathon dedicated to Illinois’ favorite son offers something for both history buffs and runners looking for a top-notch spring race. The race immerses you in all things Lincoln, with a scenic course that runs past the only home he ever owned, his law office, the Old State Capitol and his final resting place. If history isn’t your thing, the scenic course and well-run event still offer all the amenities that make this a popular destination event.

Race to Wrigley
April 12, Chicago
race-cubs.com

Celebrate Wrigley Field’s 100th anniversary with this 5K charity run that starts and finishes just outside the Cubs’ historic ballpark. The race benefits Chicago Cubs Charities and Lurie Children’s Hospital, and runners raising additional funds are eligible to receive incentives, such as autographed baseballs and post-game photo opportunities in the ballpark. Runners will tour the Lakeview neighborhood before going through the ground-level concourse of the Friendly Confines and finishing underneath the famed Wrigley Field marquee.

MOUNTAIN WEST

Shamrock Run
March 15, Phoenix
4peaksracing.com

Green runners and elites alike can celebrate with this holiday happening in the Valley of the Sun. A post-race party in the festive beer garden follows the 5K and 10K events. The chip-timed evening event starts at Reach 11 Sports Complex and follows a loop of flat, groomed desert trails. Tech T-shirts go to all participants, and awards are available for the top three males and females, plus three deep in each age group.

Redline 13.1 Westminister
April 5, Westminster, Colo.
redlinerunningcompany.com

Part of a three-event series in the suburbs north of Denver, this half marathon (with a 5K option) starts at scenic Standley Lake and follows the roomy Big Dry Creek Trail, which quickly shifts runners into a lovely stretch of suburban solitude. It’s the first year the event switches from an out-and-back to a point-to-point course — a measure runner and race director Josh Melver has been routinely gunning for and says will greatly enhance the experience.

Canine Classic 5K
April 13, Boulder, Colo.
canineclassicboulder.org

Hoof it with your pooch or go solo for a speedy Bolder Boulder qualifying time at this 14th annual fun run around Boulder Reservoir, regular training grounds for world-class runners. The “canine carnival” starts at 8 a.m., followed by the race at 9 a.m. The course features a mile of pavement — split between the start and finish — with 2.1 miles of open dirt roads and trails in between. Awards, live music and local beer, courtesy of Boulder’s Avery Brewing, keep tails wagging even after the run. Plus, proceeds benefit a vital sex-assault hotline and advocacy program with more than 40 years of service to the community.

NORTHEAST

New York City Half Marathon
March 16, New York
nyrr.org

Finding a good half marathon for your spring tuneup race can be a challenge, which is why the annual New York City Half is the perfect urban option. The race takes nearly 15,000 runners through the Big Apple’s historic South Street Seaport district and is a great event for watching some of the fastest runners in the world as they traverse the 13.1 miles through the city’s towering canyons. There are still charity slots available for this popular event.

Miles for Music 20K
March 23, Highland Park, N.J.
milesformusic.org

This one is all about the cause— and it’s a good one if you’re a lover of the arts. Miles for Music seeks to raise funds for music education and equipment in school classrooms that have been affected by beleaguered budgets and tough economic conditions. With a 20K and a 5K held in conjunction, runners have a wide range of distant options come race day. Faster New Jersey competitors also have a chance at winning cash prizes from $150 for first to $50 for third.

Race to the Point 5K
March 29, Scarborough, Maine
race2thepoint.org

Course simplicity isn’t a trait that you find with many races, but this one is geared toward the runner looking to clock a fast 5K. Racers start at Scarborough’s Blue Point Primary School and head down one road, turn around and head back. But the view of the gorgeous Atlantic Ocean at that point is well worth the price of admission.

NORTHWEST

Shamrock Run Portland
March 16, Portland, Ore.
shamrockrunportland.com

The Shamrock Run Portland is the second largest running event on the West Coast, behind only the famed Bloomsday run in Spokane, Wash. With approximately 35,000 participants running the 5K, 8K and 15K, the Shamrock Run, which starts at Waterfront Park in downtown Portland, has sold out the past four years. You’ll be part of a sea of green, with participants sporting green T-shirts, tutus, sparkly headbands, mohawks and more. The race also offers a 1K “Leprechaun Lap” for those runners 10 and younger. The two-day Shamrock Run Fitness Fair offers exhibitors, contests, music, Irish dancers and a Leprechaun Lane kids area — and look for the finish-line beer garden to embrace the full luck-of-the-Irish experience.

Mercer Island Half Marathon
March 23, Mercer Island, Wash.
mercerislandhalf.com

Dedicated to preventing colon cancer, the Mercer Island Half Marathon donates all proceeds to deserving groups, such as Get Your Rear in Gear, the National Colon Cancer Coalition, and Washington Colon Cancer S.T.A.R.S. In addition to the half marathon distance, the race also offers a 10K, 5K and half-mile kids dash. The event honors Susie Lindquist Mjelde, who died of colon cancer in 2002.

The Slime Run
April 5, Seattle
theslimerun.com

Add the Slime Run to the list of races that are cashing in on the fun-run craze. With several “slime zones” and obstacles, the Slime Run is part of a 13-race series across the country, with the Seattle run kicking off the tour next month. Participate and who knows — you may just be able to fulfill those childhood dreams inspired by Nickelodeon.

PACIFIC WEST

St. Patrick’s Day 15K
March 16, Temecula, Calif.
sandyfeetevents.com

Temecula, which is about an hour northeast of San Diego, is quickly becoming a favorite weekend getaway spot for Southern California residents, largely because of its bucolic setting and growing wine industry. If wine and country living are your thing, consider signing up for the second annual Temecula St. Patrick’s Day 15K, which offers participants a hilly, challenging course and a glass of green champagne at the finish line. Participants also get post-race deals and specials at the Cougar Vineyard and Winery. If you decide to make a weekend out of your stay in Temecula, check out the available horseback riding in the area; the scallops served at Ponte Winery’s restaurant are also a must.

Carlsbad 5000
March 30, Carlsbad, Calif.
carlsbad.competitor.com

If you’re in the mood for a 5K PR this year, consider signing up for the Carlsbad 5000, which houses 16 world records and hosts some of the world’s speediest pros and age groupers annually. Although the course is mostly flat and fast along the coast, there are some ever-slight inclines for newbies — be prepared to let the enormous local support and spectators help you crush to a 3.1-mile PR. If you’ve got kids, the race also offers a diaper dash, toddler trot, and quarter-mile, half-mile and 1-mile races. Feeling ambitious? Tackle the All-Day 25K, where participants compete in all five age-group events (runners can only place in their respective age group).

Transamerica Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon San Francisco
April 6, San Francisco
runrocknroll.competitor.com/san-francisco

The 2014 Transamerica Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon San Francisco will feature an all-new course, which will start next to the ocean on the Great Highway, run through neighborhoods — the Richmond District, Sea Cliff, Presidio and Marina District — roll back and forth across the Golden Gate Bridge and finish at Civic Center Plaza. With plenty of notoriously challenging hills, San Francisco may not be an ideal course for a PR performance; it is a great option, however, if you’re looking for gorgeous scenery and a hip city to explore once the race is over.

SOUTH

Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon
March 23, Dallas
runrocknroll.competitor.com/dallas

With more than 10,000 runners, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon is as action-packed as it is scenic. A point-to-point course, the event has runners starting near the Dallas Convention Center before making their way through charming residential neighborhoods, city parks and the Southern Methodist University Campus, finishing at the Cotton Bowl football stadium. Runners have the choice to either run the entire 13.1 miles or share the load with a training partner in the two-person relay race. A party, featuring the alternative rock band American Authors along with plenty of well-deserved food and drink, will greet all runners at the finish line.

Denton Hog Wild 5K Mud Run
April 5, Pilot Point, Texas
dentonmudrun.com

The Hog Wild Mud Run isn’t just another 5K. Organized into one-, two- and four-person teams, athletes will climb up and over more than 20 muddy obstacles. With an emphasis on fun, this race is not only about crossing the finish line first, but also helping your teammates navigate the course. Prizes will be awarded to the fastest male, female and coed teams, as well as the top individuals, and all pre-registered participants receive T-shirts. It’s time to dig out that old pair of shoes and get ready to muddy it up with some of the fastest mud runners in the region.

St. Jude Country Music Marathon and 1/2 Marathon
April 26, Nashville, Tenn.
runrocknroll.competitor.com/nashville

This year’s 15th running of the St. Jude Country Music Marathon and 1/2 Marathon will feature a new downtown start line in “Music City.” Located on Lower Broadway, you’ll feel those honky-tonk vibes from the very first step, and with live music every mile, you’ll keep on grooving all the way to the finish. Once you’ve rehydrated and refueled, you can enjoy the headliner concert on Saturday night with one of country music’s biggest acts. Past headliners have included Craig Morgan, Brad Paisley and Martina McBride, so you better giddy up and sign up for this all-day event.

SOUTHEAST

Sarasota Half Marathon & Relay
March 16, Sarasota, Fla.
sarasotahalfmarathon.com

This race is known for its scenic views and giant dolphin finisher’s medal. It sends participants across the John Ringling Causeway and along Sarasota’s coastline — most of the race is run right next to the water or just a few blocks from the bay — allowing runners to enjoy a gentle sea breeze all the way to the finish line. The temperature is typically in the low 60s at the start and mid 70s when most runners finish. What can you do after running 13.1 miles? Head straight to the beach, of course.

Georgia Marathon & Half Marathon
March 23, Atlanta
georgiamarathon.com

Embrace your inner Olympian as you cross the finish line at Centennial Olympic Park. More than 16,000 runners will stomp through the historic streets of Atlanta, with locals cheering them along each step of the way. Take in the scenic skyline from the Jackson Street Bridge and the eclectic sights of Little Five Points before the half marathon splits from the marathon course. Meet back up at the post-race party in the heart of downtown Atlanta.

Storm the Campus 10-Miler
March 30, Orlando, Fla.
stormthecampus.com

Take a running tour of the University of Central Florida’s 1,415-acre main campus. The 10-mile route goes past Brighthouse Networks Stadium, the CFE Arena and Jay Bergman Field before culminating at Memory Mall at the north end of campus. Enjoy water stops at every mile and a lively post-race party. Not just a fun Sunday morning event, this race benefits the Sports Business Club at UCF.