25 Iconic American Road Races
Whether you're a 5K or 10K junkie, or just want to try a different race distance, there are events all over the U.S. that put on an amazing race year after year.
Whether you’re a 5K or 10K junkie, or just want to try a different race distance, there are famous events all over the U.S. that put on an amazing race year after year. Here are 25 of the best across America.
Great Aloha Run
Feb. 15, Honolulu
More than 20,000 runners and walkers take on this 8.15-mile course that starts in downtown Honolulu and finishes at Aloha Stadium. The race kicks off with the “Sounds of Freedom,” in which thousands of military members run the course in formation before the civilians get started.
World’s Best 10K
Feb. 28, San Juan, Puerto Rico
With 15,000 runners taking to the streets of San Juan, this 10K is Puerto Rico’s biggest sports-tourism event. It’s popular among elite runners, owing to both the large prize purse and the late-February running. Plus, it has awesome scenery: The course revolves around the 1.4-mile Teodoro Moscoso Bridge.
Crescent City Classic
March 26, New Orleans
Taking place Easter weekend, everything we love about New Orleans—the Superdome, the French Quarter, City Park—is on display for the more than 20,000 runners who participate in this 10K each year. The race debuted in 1979.
Marine Corps 17.75K
April 2, Dumfries, Va.
The unique race distance commemorates the birth year of the U.S. Marine Corps (it’s roughly 11.03 miles). The race is near Marine Corps Base Quantico, and participants over age 14 get guaranteed access to the popular Marine Corps Marathon in October.
Cooper River Bridge Run
April 2, Mount Pleasant, S.C.
Centered around the 2.5-mile Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge connecting Mount Pleasant to Charleston, this 10K is a point-to-point run that started in 1978 and is now one of the biggest 10Ks in the world. The race is capped at 40,000 entrants, and the winners get a $10,000 prize plus potential bonuses.
April 3, Carlsbad, Calif.
The springtime 5K runs mostly along the Southern California coastline overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean just north of San Diego. It is known for being fast due to its flat course and the elite runners who participate every year.
Shamrock Shuffle 8K
April 3, Chicago
Starting and finishing in Chicago’s famous Grant Park, this spring-themed 8K takes 40,000 runners on a tour of the Windy City. Parts of the course share the same stretches as the Chicago Marathon course in October.
April 16, Boston
If you want to race in the center of the running universe (but aren’t quite Boston Marathon-qualifying fast), the B.A.A. 5K is a great race that takes place Boston Marathon weekend. The race starts and finishes in Boston Common and passes the Boston Marathon finish line, Newbury Street and the Public Garden.
Lilac Bloomsday Run
May 1, Spokane, Wash.
This 12K offers runners a great race for a low entry fee in a beautiful location. The race, founded by running great and past Olympic marathoner Don Kardong, has 92 runners who have finished every single year since it started in 1977.
Healthy Kidney 10K
May 14, New York City
This race takes place entirely on the famous Central Park loop, a route on every runner’s bucket list. The prize purse for elites is one of the largest for a 10K in the U.S. ($25,000 for the winner in 2014).
Bay to Breakers
May 15, San Francisco
One of the wildest races you’ll ever sign up for, this 12K has taken on a life of its own. Every year runners dress up in their boldest, brightest and quirkiest costumes, and run 7.46 miles from the San Francisco Bay (just a few blocks from the Embarcadero) to the Great Highway where breakers crash onto Ocean Beach.
Navy’s Bay Bridge Run
May 15, San Diego
This 4-mile race offers one of the only chances to run across the iconic Coronado Bay Bridge, a 2.1-mile bridge that stands 200 feet above San Diego Bay and presents spectacular views of downtown San Diego and nearby Coronado.
May 30, Boulder, Colo.
A Memorial Day tradition since 1979, this 10K winds through one of the top endurance-sports towns in the world. It provides mile-by-mile splits for each runner. It has a great elite field leading the way. Runners cross the finish line at Folsom Field, Colorado University’s football stadium, with 50,000 fans cheering you on.
Freihofer’s Run for Women
June 4, Albany, N.Y.
This is an all-female road race that’s in its 38th year. Close to 5,000 women participate annually, including regulars such as running icon Joan Benoit Samuelson. Several times the race has served as the USA 5K Championships; and with a prize purse exceeding $20,000 it remains a high-profile 5K race to this day.
Peachtree Road Race
July 4, Atlanta
This 10K race has been a tradition in Atlanta since 1970. It started with 110 runners (now dubbed the “Original 110”) and now has a cap of 60,000 participants each year. The sheer size of the field leads to enormous crowds cheering you on. It’s quite an experience, and one worth putting on your bucket list.
Crazy 8s 8K
July 9, Kingsport, Tenn.
A fast 8K on a figure-eight course near the Kentucky border, this race dubs itself the “world’s fastest 8K.” It can back that up, too—the world record was set here in 1996 (22:02.3) and lasted 18 years until Stephen Sambu broke it elsewhere in 2014. The women’s 8K record (24:27.7) was set in 2002 at Crazy 8s and still stands.
July 10, Utica, N.Y.
One of the top 15Ks in the country has been going for 38 years and counting. The race has plenty of prize money up for grabs ($7,000 for the winners), but you have to earn it—the point-to-point course has challenging hills throughout.
Beach to Beacon 10K
Aug. 6, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Started by running legend Joan Benoit Samuelson in her hometown, this race has slowly grown to a field of about 6,000 runners—led by some of the fastest elites in the world. The scenic point-to-point course starts near Crescent Beach State Park and finishes at the Portland Head Light, the oldest lighthouse in Maine.
Falmouth Road Race
Aug. 21, Falmouth, Mass.
The 2016 race will be the 44th in its prestigious history, with 12,000 runners on hand to take on the 7-mile course. The race is so popular that a lottery is held in May to determine entries. It also attracts an excellent elite field annually.
CVS Health Downtown 5K
Sept. 18, Providence, R.I.
Since it’s doubled as the USA 5K Championships in recent years, this race has been full of running’s biggest names—Shalane Flanagan, Molly Huddle, Ben True, Diego Estrada and Matt Tegenkamp have all won in the past eight years. For age-groupers, the race is a charming run through downtown Providence, passing the Rhode Island State House among other landmarks.
early October, Arlington, Va.
Starting near the Pentagon, runners cross the Arlington Memorial Bridge into Washington and run along the National Mall, seeing some of the U.S.’s most famous landmarks. The 32-year-old race gives out a finisher coin to all participants.
Baltimore Running Festival 5K
Oct. 17, Baltimore
As part of the Baltimore Running Festival, the ShopRite 5K starts just after the Baltimore Marathon (at the same start line) and finishes with a run down Eutaw Street adjacent to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, home of Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles. All finishers get a race medal and Under Armour performance shirt.
Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Chicago
Oct. 30, Chicago
According to Running USA, no 5K in the United States is larger than the Chicago Hot Chocolate event—in 2014, there were 29,300 participants for the 5K alone (and another 16,000 for the 15K on the same day). The course takes runners through downtown Chicago with the finish line in Grant Park, where a post-race party with lots of hot chocolate awaits.
YMCA Turkey Trot
Nov. 24, Buffalo, N.Y.
The longest-running road race in the United States, the 2016 edition will be the 121st consecutive Thanksgiving Day run. The 8K doesn’t stop for anything—not even an enormous blizzard in 2000 that buried the city could slow down the 14,000 runners.
Manchester Road Race
Nov. 24, Manchester, Conn.
Perhaps the most renowned Thanksgiving Day race on a holiday full of them, this 4.7-mile race welcomes 13,000 runners and offers more than $50,000 in prizes. The race is one of the oldest in the U.S., starting in 1927 with only 12 runners.
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