Fall is almost here, one of the most enjoyable times of the year to race. Marathon season is ramping up, plus you’ll find races to celebrate the fall colors, Oktoberfest, pumpkin patches—and an end to hot summer temperatures. Here’s a sample of races coming up in the next couple months.
Oct. 17; Indianapolis
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Indianapolis Marathon is more low-key than some of the other big-city races in the Midwest. It emphasizes the fall colors that you’ll see in Fort Harrison State Park and Fall Creek Greenway Corridor Park, which are both on the route. Organizers take pride in producing a first-class, midsize, runner-friendly race.
Humboldt Redwoods Marathon
Oct. 18; Weott, Calif.
Choose between a marathon, half marathon and 5K at this annual event in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park, about 200 miles north of San Francisco, and run among 17,000 acres of untouched, old-growth redwoods. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more impressive course anywhere—plus you’ll enjoy plenty of shade nearly the whole route.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon and Half
Oct. 18; Denver
Experience a Rocky Mountain runner’s high when the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series comes to the Mile High City. With10K and 5K options as well, the event offers something for runners of all abilities on beautiful courses that run through downtown Denver with live music and great views at every mile.
Atlantic City Marathon
Oct. 18; Atlantic City, N.J.
Participants in this marathon and half marathon will run nearly the entire length of the famed Atlantic City Boardwalk on a course that has excellent ocean views. 5K and 10K courses are also available, and all runners will enjoy a post-race party featuring Atlantic City favorites like Harry’s Clam Chowder and Rita’s Water Ice.
Cape Cod Marathon
Oct. 25; Falmouth, Mass.
Organized by the Falmouth Track Club, this 37th annual event has a reputation for its scenic course that takes full advantage of the fall colors. However, the course isn’t easy, especially the second half of the marathon. With about 3,000 athletes running throughout the weekend, the race retains a small-town atmosphere but still feels like a big event.
Thunder Road Marathon
Nov. 14; Charlotte, N.C.
This somewhat challenging race, featuring a loop course through downtown Charlotte, has its share of hills to keep you on your toes. But the strong crowd support, great organization and scenic route have helped make this one of the more popular marathons in the Southeast.
5K to 15K
Sept. 26; Fort Worth, Texas
Nearly 2,000 runners celebrate the best of Bavaria deep in the heart of Texas at this annual Oktoberfest tradition. Bring the lederhosen or dirndls to the Rahr & Sons Brewery to get into the spirit. Runners receive a pint glass and a Dry-FIT T-shirt. The real fun begins post-race, with a biergarten, German food, live entertainment and a costume contest.
Great Pumpkin Race 5K
Sept. 27; Frederick, Md.
This sixth annual race to benefit St. Jude’s Hospital features a challenging cross-country course around Summers Farm, which features a corn maze, pumpkin patch and plenty of other farm activities. Participants receive a ticket for free entry to the farm for another day this season, plus post-race refreshments.
Pacific Beachfest 5K
Oct. 3; San Diego
This is a true beach run, as the course skirts the ocean’s edge for half of the race. The return trip runs along the boardwalk before finishing the last quarter mile in the sand. Celebrate the finish with a complimentary beer at the post-race beer garden, which features tasty offerings from five local breweries.
Morton Arboretum Fall Color 5K
Oct. 4; Lisle, Ill.
If you’ve never visited the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, about 30 minutes west of Chicago, you’re in for a treat. The 1,700-acre property features more than 200,000 live plants from all over the world. It’s also one of the hillier races in the area—you’re going up or down nearly the entire 5K course.
Apple Harvest Run
Oct. 4; West Newbury, Mass.
This scenic race is a great way to celebrate the fall season. Both the 5-mile and 5K offer beautiful courses through the pastoral town of West Newbury with plenty of fall foliage. Also, the post-race party features homemade food, live music and fall-themed family activities.
Marathon Kickoff 5M
Oct. 25; New York City
Couldn’t get into the New York City Marathon this year? The Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff 5-miler is a week before the big race and features the same Central Park roads, ending at the marathon’s finish line. Get a taste of the race and cross your fingers for next year’s lottery.
Paine to Pain Trail Half
Oct. 4; New Rochelle, N.Y.
Just four train stops from Midtown Manhattan, this eighth annual trail half marathon continues to grow in popularity. This year more wave starts have been added to accommodate up to 1,000 runners. Those runners will find a giant loop trail that includes five Westchester County parks, 90 percent of which is on dirt trails under a canopy of trees.
Skyline to Sea Trail Run
Oct. 10; Los Gatos, Calif.
This marathon and 50K trail run begins at Saratoga Gap in the Santa Cruz Mountains and descends to the Pacific Ocean. The trails offer spectacular views of Monterey Bay as well as redwood forests, sandstone formations and California wildflowers. There are ups and downs along the route, but you’ll ultimately lose 2,500 feet of elevation.
Estes Trail Ascent
Oct. 11; Estes Park, Colo.
The course follows the ridgeline in Estes Park on the Pole Hill Trail, starting at 8,500 feet. Within 5.9 miles you’ll reach a high point of more than 9,000 feet before descending to a fast finish. Views of Rocky Mountain National Park and the Continental Divide along the way make this ascent a one-of-a-kind race.
Chocolate Chip Cookie 50K Trail Run
Oct. 17: Spokane, Wash.
This 50K is considered a great beginners’ ultra with scenic views of the mountains along rolling trails of Riverside State Park in Spokane, Wash. The course features a bit of everything: climbs, rocky terrain, singletrack, doubletrack, forest service roads and open prairie. And, of course, the main attraction—homemade chocolate chip cookies at the finish.
Down to Earth 5K/10K/Half Marathon
Oct. 25; Oleta, Fla.
Are you a morning or evening runner? You can do either or both in Florida’s Oleta River State Park. Run the 5K, 10K or half marathon course on the Gilligan’s Island Trail in the morning and cool down in the evening by participating in the 5K Night Trail Run (headlamps mandatory).
Living History Farms Off-Road Races
Nov. 21; Des Moines, Iowa
Registration for the 7-mile race, one of the most popular trail races in the Midwest, opens Sept. 26 at 3 a.m. and sells out the 7,600 spots quickly. Those lucky enough to get in will experience a challenging cross-country tour of the Living History Farms’ museum, and a hot post-race buffet provided by the Iowa Beef Council.
Ottawa Fall Colours Marathon
Oct. 11; Ottawa, Canada
A little less urban than you’d expect from Canada’s capital city, this race starts and finishes at the Cumberland Heritage Museum, a turn-of-the-century village, with much of the course taking you out into the country. Runners have plenty to choose from: a marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K, 3K and 1K.
Toronto Waterfront Marathon
Oct. 18; Toronto, Canada
A flat and fast course has made this race a popular one for runners seeking a Boston qualifying time. But this race is more than just about fast times. Entertainment is offered every 2K and you’ll get an excellent tour of the city with plenty of logged miles along Lake Ontario.
Niagara Falls International Marathon
Oct. 25; Niagara Falls, Canada
There aren’t many races where you need a passport to participate, but the Niagara Falls International Marathon is one of them. You’ll start at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, N.Y., cross the Peace Bridge into Canada and finish the race in front of the famous Horseshoe Falls.
Oct. 26; Dublin, Ireland
While the 36th annual Dublin Marathon expects to draw more than 10,000 runners, the race manages to keep from becoming too overwhelming. Racers start at Fitzwilliam Square in the city center and run a big, relatively flat loop around the city. After the race, enjoy guilt-free pints in the local pubs.
Nov. 11; Athens, Greece
Despite the financial crisis hitting Greece, the Athens Marathon will be going on as planned. Registration is up this year for runners hoping to do a small part in helping the economy. The course follows the original marathon route from Marathon, Greece to Athens, which was first run in 490 BC.
Ditka Dash 5K
Oct. 3; Chicago
Celebrate Da Coach and Da Bears—well, at least all things Ditka—at this popular 5K run at Soldier Field. All participants receive a signature Ditka mustache, T-shirt and aviator sunglasses. The post-race party would make any superfan proud, complete with Al’s Italian Beef, Miller Lite and Nancy’s Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.
Tribal Extreme Mud Run
Oct. 10; Mulberry, Fla.
Take to the untamed terrain of Central Florida for this 5K and 10K mud run that will put your fitness to the test. Fast runners in the 5K are expected to take 75 minutes, while slower 10K runners are predicted to complete the race in about 4 hours. The post-race party features plenty of music, entertainment and food trucks to help you refuel.