America’s 25 Greatest Half Marathons
The 25 best half marathons across the nation to check out this year.
The “half” has become the race to enter these days. Last year, more than 2 million runners finished a half marathon in the U.S.—and due to this distance’s popularity, new races seem to be popping up everywhere. These races typically fill up fast.
Sedona Half Marathon
This race has something for everyone—from the ironclad rock formations in Coconino National Forest District to running through a city that’s been declared a top-10 beauty by “Good Morning America.” Because of the high elevation and vertical ascent, the Sedona Half isn’t a place to set a PR, but the views make the trip worth your while.
Ocean’s Run Half Marathon
This half comes at the perfect time for a pre-
Boston Marathon warm-up. The race’s relatively small field means a more intimate experience. And it boasts a forgiving course that offers water views nearly the entire way. You’ll also pass through the quiet beach communities of Misquamicut and Weekapaug and experience the best Rhode Island has to offer.
Shamrock Half Marathon
Virginia Beach, Va.
You don’t have to be Irish to fall in love with this annual St. Patrick’s Day race. More than 30,000 participants between the full and the half make it a raucous party along a forgiving oceanfront course that passes historical sites like First Landing State Park.
NYC Half Marathon
New York CIty
It’s a relatively new race (starting in 2006), but the NYC Half has quickly become one of the most in-demand half marathons in the country. Unlike the five-borough NYC Marathon, the NYC Half is entirely in Manhattan. It starts with the famous Central Park loop before heading toward the Hudson River and then taking runners down to lower Manhattan with a finish on Wall Street.
Hoosier Half Marathon
Fans of the movie classic “Breaking Away” should don their Cutters jerseys for this annual spring race. The rolling course winds past Indiana University’s majestic campus, which has been called one of the most beautiful in the United States by Travel + Leisure magazine.
Divas Half Marathon
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
While many races are about going as fast as possible, others, like this one, are instead about the bling. All runners receive pink tutus with their registration, and finishers get crowned with a sparkly Diva medal at the end to show off their girl power.
Red River High Mountain Half Marathon
Red River, N.M.
Sometimes the best half marathons aren’t necessarily the easiest. That’s the case for this one, which starts at 8,700 feet and climbs another 700 feet. But the perks, a small-town race with a small field held in a beautiful environment and historic mountain town, easily make up for the effort required to cross the finish.
RELATED: Why Running a Half Marathon is a Huge Accomplishment
God’s Country Half Marathon
Some races can truly test your mettle and this is one of them. This half marathon offers one-of-a-kind views of the surrounding Pennsylvania countryside, but comes with a challenge at mile 3: A 1,000-vertical-foot hill that takes 3 miles to climb. But from there it’s pretty much downhill.
Covered Bridges Half Marathon
Race officials call this race the “best 13.1 miles in New England,” which could well be true due to the course’s fantastic views of rural Vermont. In keeping with the small-town feel of the event, the race was scaled back and capped at 2,300. This year’s edition should be especially festive as it celebrates its 25-year anniversary.
Jackson Hole Half Marathon
June 11, Jackson, Wyo.
The point-to-point, net downhill route starts at the foot of the Grand Teton Mountains in Teton Village and takes competitors along a smooth bike path to downtown Jackson. Typical weather for this race (highs in the 60s) is perfect for a fun day of running and sightseeing.
Fairfield Half Marathon
June 26, Fairfield, Conn.
Billed as one of Connecticut’s favorite races, the Fairfield Half runs past stately mansions and sandy beaches. The race has been going strong since 1981 and continues to be one of the best summer options for half marathoners in New England.
Berry Dairy Days Half Marathon
June 18, Burlington, Wash.
This super-fast and flat course should make any runner “berry” happy. This early summer race also boasts an extremely small field. Burlington is 60 miles north of Seattle and offers cool temps at this time of the year—and the probability of a PR.
AK Salmon Runs Sockeye Half Marathon
July 16, Cordova, Alaska
Salmon runs and Alaska may not sound like sensible half-marathon terms. However, this is one for the bucket list due to the race’s absolutely gorgeous, mostly flat route with stunning views of towering mountains and fresh, crisp air thanks to the nearby Chugach National Forest.
Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon
July 17, Sonoma, Calif.
This mid-summer race should be on every oenophile’s half-marathon bucket list. Experience the vineyards and vistas of Northern California wine country while running 13.1 miles—and get a taste of the wine too. The net-downhill course offers views of the Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Preserve, San Pablo Bay and Mount Tamalpais.
Maui Half Marathon
Sept. 18, Kahului, Hawaii
If you’re looking to plan a race around a vacation, look no further than Maui. The course winds along the island’s northwestern rim with views of the Pacific Ocean on one side and the West Maui Mountains on the other. Be sure to plan extra days after the race to soak your feet in the pristine ocean.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon
Sept. 18, Philadelphia
This is a perfect race for two reasons: It’s scenic and it’s fast. At last year’s race, a total of 42 runners qualified for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials on the beautiful course that starts and finishes at the foot of Philadelphia’s “Rocky” steps from the iconic film.
Bellingham Bay Half Marathon
Sept. 26, Bellingham, Wash.
Runners who want stunning water views to help them pass the miles should put this race on their list. This half marathon has been called one of the best races in the Pacific Northwest thanks to its relatively flat, USATF-certified course. Run the perfect fall marathon tune-up here.
RELATED: 25 Great American Marathons
Hamptons Half Marathon
Oct. 1, East Hampton, N.Y.
You don’t have to be an A-list celebrity to run this spectacular fall classic. This race shows off some of the most beautiful parts of Long Island’s glamorous East End. The relatively flat and fast course takes runners past beautiful beaches and along wooded roads.
Emerald Bay Half Marathon
Oct. 9, Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Admittedly, this bare-bones race isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s held at a high altitude and run on a brutal course. But the views of stunning Emerald Bay, one of the most scenic spots in the U.S., are well worth your sweat and tears.
Run Crazy Horse Half Marathon
Oct. 9, Hill City, S.D.
If you find yourself looking for a fast point-to-point half marathon in South Dakota, this has to be it. Runners start at the Crazy Horse Memorial visitor’s center and run the first 3 miles on the grounds of the famous unfinished rock carving. They then complete the race in front of the Bumpin’ Buffalo Bar and Grill on Main Street where they can reward themselves with a frosty beverage.
Mohawk Hudson Half Marathon
Oct. 9, Albany, N.Y.
A relatively flat point-to-point course is always a welcome sight for runners in search of a new PR, and this fall classic fits the bill. An added bonus is a view of the historic Hudson and Mohawk rivers that accompany you most of the way along a gentle bike path.
Richmond Half Marathon
Nov. 12, Richmond, Va.
This race is held in conjunction with “America’s Friendliest Marathon,” which means traditional Southern hospitality with affable spectators. A tree-lined course in one of Virginia’s most scenic cities awaits you. So if you prefer first-class service at a race, put this one on your must-do list.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon
Nov. 13, Las Vegas
How many times can you say you’ve run down the flashy Vegas Strip at night with a singlet on your back and a running shoes on your feet? Give this legendary race a shot—it might be the only Sin City memory you’ll remember the next morning.
Southern Fried Half Marathon
Nov. 13, Nags Head, N.C.
If you’re into experiencing Southern hospitality while at the beach, then book your ticket to picturesque Nags Head. The race starts at the largest sand dune on the East Coast and finishes in the waterfront village of Manteo, where “Southern Fried” sweet taters await hungry runners.
Rehoboth Beach Half Marathon
Dec. 3, Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Delaware may not conjure images of beautiful beaches, but once you lace up your shoes and run this 13.1-miler, you’ll want to come back every year. Held annually in December when most of the country is frozen, it’s an unusual event for brave runners. This fun race starts and finishes on an authentic beach boardwalk.