25 Iconic American Road Races

Bay to Breakers (Photo: Zappos.com Bay to Breakers)

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Whether you’re a 5K or 10K junkie, or just want to try a different race distance, there are famous events all over the U.S. that put on an amazing race year after year. Here are 25 of the best across America.

Great Aloha Run

Feb. 15, Honolulu
More than 20,000 runners and walkers take on this 8.15-mile course that starts in downtown Honolulu and finishes at Aloha Stadium. The race kicks off with the “Sounds of Freedom,” in which thousands of military members run the course in formation before the civilians get started.

World’s Best 10K

Feb. 28, San Juan, Puerto Rico
With 15,000 runners taking to the streets of San Juan, this 10K is Puerto Rico’s biggest sports-tourism event. It’s popular among elite runners, owing to both the large prize purse and the late-February running. Plus, it has awesome scenery: The course revolves around the 1.4-mile Teodoro Moscoso Bridge.

Crescent City Classic

March 26, New Orleans
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.

Marine Corps 17.75K

April 2, Dumfries, Va.
The unique race distance commemorates the birth year of the U.S. Marine Corps (it’s roughly 11.03 miles). The race is near Marine Corps Base Quantico, and participants over age 14 get guaranteed access to the popular Marine Corps Marathon in October.

Cooper River Bridge Run

April 2, Mount Pleasant, S.C.
Centered around the 2.5-mile Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge connecting Mount Pleasant to Charleston, 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.

Carlsbad 5000

April 3, Carlsbad, Calif.
The springtime 5K runs mostly along the Southern California coastline overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean just north of San Diego. It is known for being fast due to its flat course and the elite runners who participate every year.

Shamrock Shuffle 8K

April 3, Chicago
Starting and finishing in Chicago’s famous Grant Park, this spring-themed 8K takes 40,000 runners on a tour of the Windy City. Parts of the course share the same stretches as the Chicago Marathon course in October.

B.A.A. 5K

April 16, Boston
If you want to race in the center of the running universe (but aren’t quite Boston Marathon-qualifying fast), the B.A.A. 5K is a great race that takes place Boston Marathon weekend. The race starts and finishes in Boston Common and passes the Boston Marathon finish line, Newbury Street and the Public Garden.

Lilac Bloomsday Run

May 1, Spokane, Wash.
This 12K offers runners a great race for a low entry fee in a beautiful location. The race, founded by running great and past Olympic marathoner Don Kardong, has 92 runners who have finished every single year since it started in 1977.

Healthy Kidney 10K

May 14, New York City
This race takes place entirely on the famous Central Park loop, 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).

Bay to Breakers

May 15, San Francisco
One of the wildest races you’ll ever sign up for, this 12K has taken on a life of its own. Every year runners dress up in their boldest, brightest and quirkiest costumes, and run 7.46 miles from the San Francisco Bay (just a few blocks from the Embarcadero) to the Great Highway where breakers crash onto Ocean Beach.

Navy’s Bay Bridge Run

May 15, San Diego
This 4-mile race offers one of the only chances to run across the iconic Coronado Bay Bridge, a 2.1-mile bridge that stands 200 feet above San Diego Bay and presents spectacular views of downtown San Diego and nearby Coronado.

Bolder Boulder

May 30, Boulder, Colo.
A Memorial Day tradition since 1979, this 10K 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. Runners cross the finish line at Folsom Field, Colorado University’s football stadium, with 50,000 fans cheering you on.

Freihofer’s Run for Women

June 4, Albany, N.Y.
This is an all-female road race that’s in its 38th year. Close to 5,000 women participate annually, including regulars such as running icon Joan Benoit Samuelson. Several times the race has served as the USA 5K Championships; and with a prize purse exceeding $20,000 it remains a high-profile 5K race to this day.

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