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Running’s First Big Weekend of 2015

It's cold across much of the United States, but the running must go on.

It’s cold across much of the United States, but the running must go on.

Winter has left much of the United States frozen, but have no fear. There’s still plenty of running to be done.

This weekend marks the first big weekend of 2015 in terms of running races around the country. Several big winter marathons are taking place in some of the United States’ warmer climates, with one national championship at stake (and perhaps American running’s biggest name trying to defend it).

Here’s a look at some of the big races around the U.S. this weekend:

Houston Marathon and Half Marathon

Some 25,000 runners will be hitting the streets of Houston for one of the largest winter races out there. The field is capped at 13,000 participants for the marathon and 12,000 for the half marathon.

The half marathon will play host to the 2015 USA Half Marathon Championships, which has $80,000 in prize money and will attract a star-studded field. Meb Keflezighi will be racing (and defending his 2014 title), as well as Josphat Bolt, Shadrack Biwott, Matt Llano and Gabe Proctor on the men’s side. The women’s half will feature Janet Bawcom, Annie Bersagel, Sara Hall, Lauren Kleppin and Kim Conley.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon and ½ Marathon

The Rock ‘n’ Roll series’ first race of the year takes place in the Phoenix area, and it will be a busy weekend with more than 20,000 runners participating. Every traditional race distance is represented, with a 5K on Saturday in Tempe and the 10K, half marathon and marathon on Sunday. The 10K and half marathon start at the same spot in Tempe, while the marathon starts in neighboring Phoenix. All races finish at Tempe Beach Park.

Those who run the 5K on Saturday and one of the races on Sunday will get a “remix” medal in addition to the two race medals. And they’ll be alongside big names—Ryan Hall and Ben Bruce are pacing the 5K and running the half marathon, and Alan Webb will be pacing the 5K and 10K races. Steve Scott will run the 5K and be a 2:00 pacer for the half marathon.

Carlsbad Marathon & Half

One of the first marathons of the year in Southern California, this race explores the beautiful coastline of Carlsbad, Calif., a suburb of San Diego. The races are capped at 2,000 runners for the marathon and 8,000 for the half marathon.

About 10 miles of the half marathon course and 15 miles of the marathon course overlook the Pacific Ocean along the Coast Highway.

RELATED: Destination America, The Ultimate Running Guide

Louisiana Marathon

Taking place in Baton Rouge, this race (in its fifth year) runs from downtown along the river through the Louisiana State University campus. The fast and flat course makes it a good Boston qualifier.

Charleston Marathon

The marathon, half marathon and “Shrimps and Grits” 5K will showcase the charm of South Carolina’s prominent coastal city. The full and half are point-to-point races that start in downtown Charleston and finish in North Charleston. Free shrimp, grits and beer at the finish line.

Last year’s women’s race was won by none other than Zola Budd Pieterse in 2:59:42. Budd was the 5K world record holder known for getting tangled with Mary Decker at the 1984 Olympics.

Maui Oceanfront Marathon

This race offers a marathon, half marathon, 15K, 10K and 5K, and all of them run along Maui’s west coast, with views of vast ocean and the neighboring Hawaiian islands dominating the scenery. Runners will be able to whale watch during the race, as January is a prime month for this.

The marathon is a point-to-point race from Wailea to Lahaina, while the 10K and half marathons are out-and-back courses, and the 15K and 5K start at different points along the marathon course and finish in Lahaina.