As the weather cools down, the fall racing season picks up in full swing. Many popular races will already be filled, but we’ve curated a batch of equally race-worthy and unique events with spots still open. But hurry, these races can sell out fast too!
U.S. Air Force Marathon
Sept. 19; Dayton, Ohio
Held on the third Saturday of September for the past 19 years, this marathon commemorates the U.S. Air Force’s 68th anniversary. The course traverses historical sites celebrating American flight, including the Wright Brothers Memorial Museum. For an extra fee of $15 and $25, participants can partake in the Breakfast of Champions and gourmet pasta dinner the day before the race.
Bellingham Bay Marathon
Sept. 27; Bellingham, Wash.
This may be one of the most beautiful Boston qualifying courses that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. With gentle changes in elevation, this course coasts through the Bellingham Bay area, offering spectacular views of the bay, San Juan Islands and North Cascade Mountains, as well as crossing the scenic Taylor Avenue Dock in the last couple miles.
Twin Cities Marathon
Oct. 4; Minneapolis
Considered “the most beautiful urban marathon in America,” this point-to-point 26.2-miler starts near the future location of the new Minnesota Vikings football stadium in the downtown area and finishes at the State Capitol in Saint Paul. This year it doubles as the U.S. masters marathon championships. Stick around for post-race activities, food and massages at the 27th Mile Festival just past the finish line.
Oct. 11; Scranton, Pa.
Besides the hit comedy TV series “The Office,” Scranton is also known for its annual marathon (now in its 20th year) that includes 2.2 miles of dirt rails-to-trail paths along the Lackawanna River. Although this course has seen several BQ finishers, the downhills in the first 8 miles make it a challenge to tackle the uphills in the final few miles.
Oct. 17; Baltimore
Get a full tour of Baltimore from the famed Inner Harbor waterfront to Camden Yards (home of the Baltimore Orioles) by running this diverse urban marathon course. Runners will zoom past a penguin exhibit within the Maryland Zoo and make a loop around Lake Montebello. In the final 5 miles, spectators have been known to open their homes to race participants who need an emergency bathroom break.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon
Oct. 25; Los Angeles
Celebrate Halloween Hollywood style and dress up in costumed racing attire. Live bands throughout the course maintain a high energy for all 13.1 miles, including a post-race concert by indie pop band Smallpools. Plus, it’s a great people-watching race for both participants and spectators scoping out the latest and most creative costumes.
5K to 15K
Broncos Back to Football 7K
Sept. 6; Denver
For die-hard Denver Bronco fans, this is a race that cannot be missed. The 7K loop starts and ends at Mile High Stadium, where finishers will run through the tunnel and onto the field, and have the opportunity to meet Bronco players, cheerleaders and the team mascot. Post-race festivities include beer, live music and food.
Texas Wine Series Becker Vineyards 5K/10K
Sept. 13; Fredericksburg, Texas
Participants have the option between the Vintner 10K or Vintage 5K in this race through the grapevines and lavender fields of Becker Vineyards. Along with a tech shirt and finisher’s medal, runners also receive a commemorative wineglass—plus a free flight of wine to go with the post-race cheeses and crackers.
Santa Monica Classic 5K/10K
Sept. 13; Santa Monica, Calif.
A mostly flat and fast point-to-point course paralleling the Pacific Coast Highway, this race offers stunning views of Southern California’s coastline. Both the 5K and 10K finishes culminate at the Santa Monica Pier for free post-race food and refreshments.
Pittsburgh Great Race
Sept. 27; Pittsburgh
Established by Mayor Richard S. Caliguiri as a 10K fun run in 1977, the race has expanded to include a 5K course as well. The predominantly downhill 10K course passes through five university campuses and ends in downtown Pittsburgh at Point State Park.
Strides for Peace
Oct. 8, Chicago
Strides for Peace is a nonprofit organization formed last year with the intent of reducing gun violence in Chicago. The Thursday night 8K, 5K and 2-mile races run along the famous Lakefront Path and finish at Soldier Field. All proceeds go toward supporting the cause of insuring a safer city.
Lone Peak Vertical kilometer
Sept. 4–6, Big Sky Resort, Mont.
Get the best view of southwest Montana from the 11,166-foot summit of Lone Peak. However, getting up there is no easy climb. Runners start at the base of Big Sky Resort and “run” a 5K with a 1K vertical gain (actually 3,632 feet). It’s a highly technical and steep course meant for experienced mountain runners, just like The Rut 11K, 25K and 50K races the same weekend.
Sept. 12; Suttons Bay, Mich.
Kick off Saturday morning with a 5K or 7-mile trail run (or stomp) through Ciccone Vineyard & Winery. The trail meanders through the actual vineyard rows that are heavy with ripe wine grapes, providing a unique setting for a race. Afterward, race participants go on a five-hour wine tour along the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail with special wine tastings and food pairings.
Shawangunk Ridge Trail Run
Sept. 18–19, High Point State Park, N.J.
The Shawagunk Ridge Trail is 74 miles of absolute wilderness from High Point State Park, where the trail intersects the Appalachian Trail, to Rosendale, N.Y. Runners have the option to do the 20-mile, 32-mile, 50-mile or the full 74-mile course. With no aid stations, trail markings or crew support, though, this run tests not only your endurance, but your survival skills and resourcefulness as well.
Emerald Bay Trail Run
Sept. 19; Lake Tahoe, Calif.
With little climbing on a non-technical trail, this 7.5-mile course is perfect for a beginner’s trail race. More importantly, views of Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay throughout the course will mark this as a permanent run-cation race on your calendar.
North Face Endurance Challenge
Sept. 26-27; Park City, Utah
Located 20 miles east of Salt Lake City, this mountain race cruises along the Wasatch Mountain Range with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet. Choose between a 50-miler, 50K or marathon in this world-renowned ski destination complete with a variety of terrain, including double- and singletrack trails, ski runs and mountain bike trails.
Nipmuck Trail Marathon
Oct. 4; Ashford, Conn.
An out-and-back course along the northern section of the Nipmuck Trail, this marathon aims to emulate the early days of the New England trail racing scene. This means runners will not have the luxury of a specifically marked course and must rely on the blue blazes set by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association.
Patagonian International Marathon
Sept. 26; Patagonia, Chile
This gravel road race takes place within the Torres del Paine National Park where massive glaciers, glassy lakes and granite mountains covered in ice surround runners on the course. In its fourth running, the race weekend has expanded to include 60K, half marathon and 10K routes, plus several trail running races from 21K to 100K. Each one provides majestic panoramic views of the park.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Lisbon Marathon
Oct. 18; Lisbon, Portugal
Set in Lisbon, the coastal capital of Portugal, this Rock ‘n’ Roll race starts in Cascais and runs along the Tagus River before finishing at the Parque das Nacoes. The course winds through traditional barrios defined by pastel-colored buildings and narrow passageways. Live music also accompanies runners on the course as they explore this soulful city.
Oct. 18; Amsterdam, Netherlands
Skip the walking tour because this marathon covers all the major sights in Amsterdam. The 26.2-mile course starts and ends at the Olympic Stadium, following part of the 1928 Olympic marathon route along the Amstel River. Participants will also run through the historic passageway of the Rijksmuseum and Vondelpark, as well as Amsterdam’s bustling city center.