In 2015, almost two million runners completed a half-marathon — that’s more than marathon and 10K finishers combined. This magic distance continues to grow in popularity, and Matt Fitzgerald, running coach and author of “The Endurance Diet” explains that “the half-marathon is long enough to present runners with a serious challenge and a great sense of accomplishment when they conquer it. But at the same time, it requires less training than a full marathon does, and the post-race recovery is much quicker.”
We know that sometimes the hardest part of racing isn’t necessarily the training, but figuring out which race to run, so we’ve taken the liberty of rounding up 10 of the best half-marathons to inspire your next training session.
SLACKER HALF MARATHON
When: June 24, 2017
Why: The Slacker Half is the highest downhill half-marathon in the U.S., but don’t let the elevation fool you. The race starts at 10,660 feet and ends at 8,525 feet — for a net loss of 2,135 feet. With views of the Continental Divide and the old railroad town of Georgetown, you’ll wish it took longer.
SAN FRANCISCO HALF MARATHON
When: July 23, 2017
Why: First, you have to decide if you want to do the first 13.1 of the San Francisco marathon course or the second 13.1 of the marathon course. Then, you’ll join 27,000 other half-marathon and full-marathon runners as you run through iconic neighborhoods of this roller-coaster hill-ridden city and finish at either Golden Gate Park or near AT&T Park.
THE HOTTEST HALF
When: August 13, 2017
Why: Because what’s hotter than Texas in the middle of the summer? The Hottest Half in Dallas — celebrating its 10th anniversary — is the perfect opportunity to get to know how much you really like running in the heat (average August highs are in the 90s). Ice water and sports drinks are at every water station and there’s a post-race summer party.
PIKES PEAK ASCENT
When: August 19, 2017
Why: If you find yourself cruising past other runners when a race has a hill or two, the Pikes Peak Ascent is the ultimate challenge. Technically, this race is 13.32 miles, but you head straight up from the 6,300-foot start in Manitou Springs to the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak. This is one you’ll want to get at least a little bit of elevation training for — especially if this is your first “14er!”
READ MORE > MAJOR MARATHON CHEAT SHEET
When: October 15, 2017
Why: While it’s not the biggest race in Hawaii (that’d be the Honolulu Marathon), the Maui Half-Marathon is part of the longest consecutively held running event in the entire state, with breathtaking coastal views the entire way. After all, who doesn’t want to run in paradise?
ROCK ‘N’ ROLL LAS VEGAS
When: November 11–12, 2017
Why: One of the most popular half-marathons in the U.S., the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half in Las Vegas is your chance to run the famed strip at night. The race starts at 4:30 p.m., and average temperatures in Vegas in November range from 40s–60s, making it a great escape from the winter cold.
WILLOW WINTER SOLSTICE HALF-MARATHON
When: December 2017
Why: If you want cold, you go to Alaska. With potential start time temps of as low as -40°F, it doesn’t get much colder in the United States at least. The Willow Winter Solstice Half-Marathon is held on the winter solstice, and you should come prepared for anything from a winter storm to being passed by dog mushers.
REHOBOTH BEACH HALF MARATHON
When: December 2, 2017
Why: With a limit of 1,900 racers for the half-marathon, not only is the Rehoboth Beach Half a good chance to set a PR, you won’t be nudging your neighbor in over-filled corrals to get started. Bonus: The course runs along the beach, so you’ll get ocean views, too.
PARIS HALF MARATHON
When: March 2018
Why: Nearly 40,000 runners flock to run the Paris Half Marathon past some of the most well-known landmarks in the city. This flat and fast course is perfect for a PR, and gives you an excuse to spend a few extra days in the City of Lights. There is music and plenty of spectators along the course to help keep you motivated and running your fastest.
DISNEY PRINCESS HALF MARATHON
When: February 22–25, 2018
Why: There are three reasons why the Disney Princess Half Marathon is great for beginners: the weather, the crowd and the course. The weather in Florida in February ranges from a low of 49 degrees Fahrenheit to a high of 72, which is great for a winter escape from the cold. The race covers an entire weekend of festivities and there are around 20,000 runners each year out on the flat and easy course.
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