The 10K is one of running’s favorite road-racing distances. More challenging than a 5K, but without the training demands of the marathon or half marathon, the 6.2-mile race distance allows for a combination of speed and endurance and remains a great goal for new runners. According to Running USA, nearly 1.5 million runners finished a 10K in 2013, trailing only the 5K and the half marathon in the total number of participants.
There are 10Ks in every corner of the United States, but a few stand out. Whether it’s unmatched scenery, long-standing tradition, a positive race-day experience or the chance to run alongside big-name professionals, these 10Ks have risen to “bucket-list” status—meaning, put it on your to-do list and make sure you cross it off at some point.
What’s not to love about this Boulder, Colo., race? It’s simply one of the best. A Memorial Day tradition since 1979, this race winds through one of the top endurance-sports towns in the world. It provides mile-by-mile splits for each runner. It has a great elite field leading the way. And the finish? Amazing. Runners cross the finish line at Folsom Field, Colorado University’s football stadium, with 50,000 fans cheering you on. It’s tough to beat that.
Peachtree Road Race
The July 4 race has been a tradition in Atlanta since 1970. It started with 110 runners (now dubbed the “Original 110”) and now has a cap of 60,000 participants each year. It is an urban race, with the skyscrapers keeping the route shady, and the sheer size of the field leads to enormous crowds cheering you on. It’s quite an experience, and one worth putting on your radar. Photo: Tim Easterday
Healthy Kidney 10K
Though one of the smaller events on this list with only about 8,000 finishers, this race is a must-do. It takes place in May entirely on the famous Central Park loop in New York City, a route on every runner’s bucket list. The prize purse for elites is one of the largest for a 10K in the U.S. ($25,000 for the winner in 2014). Photo courtesy of NYRR.
World's Best 10K
One of the top destination 10Ks out there, this race is Puerto Rico’s biggest sports-tourism event, with 15,000 runners taking to the streets of San Juan. It is popular among elite runners, owing to both the large prize purse and the late-February running. And it’s got awesome scenery, with the race course revolving around the 1.4-mile Teodoro Moscoso Bridge with alternating United States and Puerto Rico flags lining it.
Dana Point Turkey Trot
One of the most famous Thanksgiving Day events out there, this race in Dana Point, Calif., is a perfect way to finish your season—amazing scenery, great support, good weather and a fast course. Run alongside the Pacific Ocean, into Dana Point Harbor and underneath the bluffs that make southern Orange County one of the most beautiful locales in America. The 10K had about 10,000 finishers in 2013. Photo: Kimble Photography
Crescent City Classic
Taking place Easter weekend, everything we love about New Orleans—the Superdome, the French Quarter, City Park—is on display for the more than 20,000 runners who participate in this 10K each year. The race debuted in 1979.
With about 6,000 runners taking part annually, the BAA 10K is one of the newer races on the Boston Athletic Association’s calendar—and on this list. But it’s already a classic, starting and finishing at Boston Common and taking runners on a fast-and-flat course through Boston’s Back Bay, past Kenmore Square to the Boston University campus and back. A competitive elite field adds to the allure, with a $10,000 prize at stake for the winners. Photo: FayPhoto/Boston
Cooper River Bridge Run
Centered around the 2.5-mile Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge connecting Mount Pleasant and Charleston, S.C., this 10K is a point-to-point run that started in 1978 and is now one of the biggest 10Ks in the world. The race is capped at 40,000 entrants, and the winners get a $10,000 prize plus potential bonuses. The run takes place each April. Photo: The Chart Group, Robert Smith
Beach to Beacon 10K
Started by running legend Joan Benoit Samuelson in her hometown of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, this race has slowly grown to a field of about 6,000 runners—led by some of the fastest elites in the world. The scenic point-to-point course starts near Crescent Beach State Park and finishes at the Portland Head Light, the oldest lighthouse in Maine.
Statesman Capitol 10K
Taking place each April in Austin, Texas, the Capitol 10K is the largest 10K in Texas, with more than 16,000 participants in 2014, its 37th year. More importantly, the race explores the state’s charming capital city, starting at the Congress Avenue Bridge (known for its abundance of bats living underneath it), running through downtown Austin, past the state capitol building and finishing at the Palmer Events Center.