What are the best half marathons in the US? The most fun half marathons? Well some of that depends on what you like, but I’m pretty sure there are a few key components that apply to them all.
Number one: It makes a great Racecation – why isn’t this word in the dictionary yet? I mean it’s in the Wiktionary, so I think we all know that means it’s clearly part of the standard lexicon…of runners. A beautiful place to run and make it a great excuse for a vacation.
Mini-me and muggle have been deemed dictionary worthy words of our lifetime, so I think it’s time to begin a pursuit of expanding the world’s knowledge of a racecation. I’m going to guess the main issue is that runners, are too busy DOING something else to fight for this word.
Which is totally cool because that means, we’re also finding excuses to travel more! So let’s talk about the best half marathons in the US! Race vacations have become a staple around here, much to my husbands chagrin as it always means a few days of not seeing much, followed by a few days of hobbling around…none the less it combines my two favorite activities of travel and running so he humors me and we continue to roam!
Destination races can be a great opportunity to PR (especially if you’re coming down from running at atltitude to sea level!!), but often they’re just a chance to explore a new city in a way that you love.
If you haven’t done a racecation yet, I highly recommend it! I mean imagine running through the old walls of Jerusalem…MEMORIES!!!
Why Sign up for a Destination Race?
In truth, not one of the 8 marathons I’ve completed has been where we lived! I liked that added bonus for race day and while it can also add some stress, here are the main reasons I think it’s awesome:
- Exploring a new city (seriously I saw all the sights of Dublin during a 10K)
- Post race blues don’t have a chance to set in when you’ve got a brand new city to explore
- Meeting up with fellow runners! I’ll be honest some of the races I love most are because I finally get to meet some long time Instagram running friends.
- A change in scenery: not only will you be running in a new place, but likely a different climate or hills or dessert or ocean…it adds some interest to race day!
- Extra reason to convince family to cross a bucket list destination off your list
Anything Different in Planning for a Destination Race?
Training for a race in another state seems to add a little more umph to many people’s training because of the additional cost involved and the excitement about exploring a new place.
Unless you’re going for all 50 states, try to plan a little extra time around these races to enjoy the sites…that’s half the fun of a destination race.
A few tips to planning if this is your first:
- Tips for a successful travel race — you really do need to understand how hydration, sleep and food change
- Selecting the best race for you — it might be beautiful, but is it right for your goals?
- Half marathon packing list — less stress if you’ve got this ready
- 76 of the best free online resources for runners
- Tips to break the 2 hour half marathon
Best Half Marathons in the US
While I certainly have a list of my personal choice for best half marathons, this is not simply from my brain alone…it’s from yours too!
I gathered your answers for coolest half marathons, consulted my marathon maniac friends (yes those who have done hundreds of races), investigated what Runner’s World and a few others had to say and voila a list was born of the best half marathons in the US.
The key to a half marathon worth the travel:
Here were the components we looked at in making this list.
- scenery (let’s enjoy the race from start to finish)
- PR friendly (helping you hit that big goal on the road!)
- crowd support (cheering from friends, family and strangers)
- great vacation spot (post race fun!)
Now more than ever we’re lucky to have a HUGE variety of half marathons to choose from in any state because it’s such a popular distance. Which means there are likely some races that would be considered top half marathons which might not appear on this list.
Midnight Mayor’s Marathon – Want the full Alaska experience?! Gotta go during this time of year where there are 19 hours of full sun. You’ll still be running at 7AM, so no worries about a midnight start.
Grand Canyon Half Marathon – This is not an easy half marathon, but boy is it pretty. If you opt for this one go for the beauty, not a PR.
I’ve run a number of CA races that I love, including Santa Barbara Wine Valley Half Marathon. But one that remains on my bucket list and needs to be added to yours is the Surf City Half Marathon!
- The medal is one of the few that gives me bling envy
- The course is flat and fast
- The course is beautiful along the beach
- Long sleeve finisher shirts (WHAT?! That’s top notch)
- I’ve run Motiv races and they are well organized!
- It’s part of the Surf Cities Challenge, which means more bling!
- Now you’re in CA, one of my favorite vacation spots.
Now that I live in Colorado, I get to enjoy the mountain views frequently, but I was still blown away by the Steamboat Half Marathon. Expect a net downhill course, that’s beautiful, a small finish line with breakfast burritos and the perfect spot for a cheap CO vacation because it’s the off season.
Having lived in FL, I will first say be prepared for the humidity if you are traveling here for a winter race. I found a lot of friends wilted at the Miami marathon because they didn’t realize how much the humidity would impact them.
Tybee Island Run Fest – We got married here, it’s a super cool island! I mean, ignore our weird wedding story and just focus on the fact that it’s outside Savannah and gorgeous. They want you to enjoy the day, so they have places for you to change post race.
Really any race here seems to be a winner in people’s recommendations, though be prepared for heat! I helped paced Jodi to her first marathon finish during the Honolulu marathon and it was stunning to see the beautiful rain forests, but extremely crowded (and no half marathon).
However, I’ve heard good things about the Volcano Runs Rain Forest Half Marathon.
Run The Bluegrass Half Marathonmore than a race this really is a weekend of events. You can visit distilleries, horse farms and so much more. The race itself will take rolling hills through the Throughbread farms.
If you’re going to Vegas, you might as well enjoy running on the strip right?! Rock N Roll Las Vegas is the only one to shut down the strip for you at night. Just be aware that it’s cold and they have had a number of hiccups with logistics.
BONUS List of Half Marathons to Consider
These didn’t make it in to the top list from everyone, but were certainly worth a notable mention.
Golden Gate Half Marathon
Mystic Half Marathon
Rock N Roll New Orleans
Wineglass Half Marathon.
Fargo Half Marathon
Portland Shamrock Run
Nashville Rock N Roll Half marathon (my first race ever in 2002!!)
Covered Bridges Half Marathon
Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon
Whidbey Bay Half Marathon
Hatfield McCoy Half Marathon
Best International Half Marathons
Ok I couldn’t finish this off without including a few international options because, well honestly, they’re on my destination race bucket list!Planning my next racecation, thanks to this list of travel worthy half marathons! #runchat Click To Tweet
There are so many more amazing scenic half marathons and best half marathons around the US that I’m going to have to keep updating this list annually to stay on top of them!
What’s the best race you have ever traveled for?
What’s the farthest you’ve ever traveled?
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