The half marathon distance is as big as ever in the United States. According to Running USA, 2014 saw the 13.1-mile distance surpass 2 million finishers for the first time.
The growth has led to an explosion in big races, too—of the 2,200 half marathons in the U.S., 32 of them had more than 10,000 finishers (in 2000, there was just one). Of those, seven had more than 20,000 finishers.
Here’s a closer look at those races that bring a crowd—the largest half marathons in the United States.
1. Brooklyn Half Marathon
2014 finishers: 25,645
One of the hardest half marathons to gain an entry to, the 2015 version of this New York City race sold out in just 7 hours—extremely fast for a 13.1-mile race with 25,000 entries available. The race has come a long way since its debut in 1981, and the course now takes runners from Prospect Park to the Coney Island Boardwalk. This race is No. 1 based on 2014 finisher totals, but NYRR reports that the 2015 race in May exceeded 26,000 finishers. (Photo: Courtesy of NYRR)
2. OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon
2014 finishers: 25,524
This hugely popular race in Indianapolis has come in at No. 1 for 23 of the past 24 years, but fell short by just 86 finishers in 2014. It’s known (besides its size) for the 2.5-mile loop around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track from miles 6-8.
3. Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas
2014 finishers: 25,227
Strip at Night. It’s no wonder this race is in high demand year after year—it’s one of the only chances to run the famed Las Vegas Boulevard with the millions of lights illuminating the night sky. The half marathon starts at Mandalay Bay, stays on Las Vegas Boulevard for the entire race before finishing at the Mirage.
4. Nike Women's San Francisco Half
2014 finishers: 24,448
One of the few half marathons to use a lottery due to excessive demand, neither a pricey entry fee nor a tough course stops thousands from wanting in to this race in San Francisco. The perks? Besides a tour of the beautiful Bay Area, the finish line “medal”—a Tiffany necklace—is one of the most popular in running.
5. NYC Half
2014 finishers: 20,828
A relatively new race on this list (it started in 2006), the race nonetheless was an immediate hit. The 2014 race exceeded 20,000 finishers, taking runners from Central Park, through Times Square, along the West Side Highway adjacent to the Hudson River, and finishing in Lower Manhattan. The race often has a star-studded elite field—Haile Gebrselassie ran a 59:24 here, and stars like Mo Farah, Wilson Kipsang and Molly Huddle have won in past years. (Photo: PhotoRun.net)
6. Disney Princess Half Marathon
2014 finishers: 20,770
Like its sister, the Tinkerbell Half Marathon at Disneyland in California, this race at Disney World in Florida is a women-focused half marathon, one of the largest of its kind. The race takes place annually in February and starts and finishes at Epcot, while taking runners through Magic Kingdom as well.
7. Walt Disney World Half Marathon
2014 finishers: 20,243
Combined with a 5K, 10K and marathon the same weekend in January, the Disney World Half Marathon near Orlando, Fla., makes up a large chunk of an enormous weekend of running at the resort, which brings in 50,000 runners and 50,000 spectators in all. The half marathon goes through Epcot and Magic Kingdom with a finish at Spaceship Earth. (Photo: Jenny Torres)
8. Country Music Half Marathon
2014 finishers: 19,149
This race features memorable scenery and great southern charm—plus a great benefiting charity, the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. One of the most popular in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series, the half experiences downtown Nashville, Tenn., along with views of the Cumberland River, the Country Music Hall of Fame and a finish at LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans.
9. Rock 'n' Roll San Diego
2014 finishers: 16,890
San Diego’s signature marathon added a half in 2010 and it was an immediate hit. The race explores all there is to love about “America’s Finest City” including Balboa Park, Mission Bay, the Gaslamp District and more.
10. Rock 'n' Roll DC
2014 finishers: 16,767
A great way to explore the nation’s capital, the 2015 race started at the National Mall, circled the district and finished at RFK Stadium.