By Linzay Logan
After qualifying for the Boston Marathon and earning the chance to run one of the most famous marathons in the world, the question is: What’s next? For some runners they may try for speedier splits, tackle an ultramarathon or maybe make the move to triathlon. For those who are still looking to stick with running without jumping into ultras, but seek the next challenge check out these races—some of the toughest and most beautiful courses in the U.S.
1. Pier to Peak
Santa Barbara, Calif.
This half-marathon takes runners from Sterns Wharf on the coast of Santa Barbara through down town and then up into Los Padres National forest for nearly 4,000 feet in elevation gain. The course ends at La Cumbra Peak with a view of all of Santa Barbara, the Channel Islands and beyond.
2. Gansett Marathon
TBD (April 16 in 2011)
Like the Boston Marathon, the Gansett Marathon is a qualifiers-only race. Qualification times are five minutes faster than the current Boston qualifying times. Race director plans to eliminate the 59-second grace time for 2012, making the race even more difficult to qualify for than Boston with its new qualifying times for 2012. The course is along the ocean and beautiful, but prepared to be pounded by coastal wind.
3. Big Sur International Marathon
Big Sur, Calif.
With the rolling hills of Big Sur this course takes runners up some serious climbs. If you take hill training seriously enough it is not terribly uncommon to PR. However, the hills are likely to kill your splits so bring along a camera for all the breathtaking views. Then you can blame all the Kodak moments on your sub-par time.
4. Bolder Boulder
50,000 people toe the line at this 10k every year, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Racing at altitude makes even you’re jogging pace feel like a sprint and then add some hills to the mix. Just past Mile 1 is Lover’s Hill, which you probably wont be loving by the time you get to the top of it.
Linzay Logan is the copy editor for Competitor magazine and cares about punctuation probably a little too much. She particularly loves to avoid commas as well as add exclamation points whenever she can get away with it! She also loves to run marathons and half-marathons—probably a little too much. Don’t let her small size fool you; she’ll still try to outrun you anytime. Even though chances are she probably can’t. Have a question or comment for Linzay? Email her at Llogan@competitorgroup.com.