Racing this time of the year is largely a function of where you live. For some, the cold and slippery weather limits outdoor time. But for others, it’s the best season to enjoy cool temperatures and low humidity. No matter where you live, though, it’s always a good time to add races to your calendar and keep you training through the last of winter and into spring.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington DC
March 12; Washington, D.C.
Get a close-up view of the nation’s capital at this Rock ‘n’ Roll event, which features both a full and half marathon (and 5K) that hit all the major sights in town. This being a Rock ‘n’ Roll race, expect a course lined with live music, local bands and cheer teams to keep you going strong.
March 12–13; Asheville, N.C.
Choose from the half on Saturday or the full marathon on Sunday; either way you’ll enjoy running through America’s largest backyard at the Biltmore Estate, the 250-room French Renaissance chateau built by the Vanderbilt family. Both races stay within the private grounds of the property, which was designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.
March 20; Atlanta
In its 10th year, the Georgia Marathon was purchased by the Atlanta Track Club, which organizes more than 30 events in the city. The race starts and finishes at Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta and offers a loop course that explores much of the city.
April 24; Bend, Ore.
After a successful inaugural year, the Bend Marathon and Half returns to the Oregon mountain town. The route along the Deschutes River and the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway is about 90 percent pavement, 10 percent trail. The first half climbs about 500 feet, but mostly finishes with a fast downhill.
Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon
April 30; Louisville, Ky.
Before Churchill Downs is filled with fancy hats and mint juleps, Louisville welcomes runners from all over the country for a race that takes a bit longer than two minutes. The loop course features a tour of many of the city’s neighborhoods as well as a lap inside the Churchill Downs track. Be sure to bet on yourself!
Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon
May 1; Cincinnati, Ohio
You might snicker at the name, but the Flying Pig Marathon celebrates its 18th running this year and is regarded as one of the strongest races in the Midwest. The weekend is full of races, and runners can even challenge themselves by completing the “4-way,” which includes a 5K and 10K on Saturday followed by the full marathon on Sunday.
5K to 15K
Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K
March 6; New York City
This New York Road Runners race in upper Manhattan offers a scenic (and hilly) tour of Washington Heights. Runners will circle Fort Tryon Park and the Cloisters while being entertained by salsa, blues and Irish folk musicians. Plus, a little gospel, meringue and jazz to keep the multicultural theme going.
Hot Chocolate 15K and 5K
March 20; San Diego
San Diego’s year-round warm climate isn’t ideal weather for hot chocolate, but anyone who loves chocolate will certainly enjoy this 5K and 15K race with a start and finish at Petco Park. After the race, celebrate with a fondue party that includes plenty of other chocolate treats. All runners also receive the coveted full-zip, fleece-lined race hoodie.
Cohasset Road Race by the Sea 10K
April 3; Cohasset, Mass.
Celebrating its 40th running this year, this race features a challenging course with incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean. The 10K race is capped at 1,770 participants—the year the town was founded—and all participants will receive a 40th anniversary long-sleeve T-shirt.
Shamrock Shuffle 8K
April 3; Chicago
This race marks the unofficial start of Chicago’s racing season, and more than 20,000 runners fill Grant Park to put that winter training to the test. The flat course winds through downtown Chicago, and the post-race party features live music and beer. Plus, there’s a belated St. Patrick’s Day theme.
Levi’s Presidio 10
April 17; San Francisco
This family-oriented event starts at the Presidio and features 5K, 10K and 10-mile options, with the longer runs crossing over the Golden Gate Bridge and back, before finishing at Crissy Field. Enjoy a hot breakfast, live music and those great views of the Bay post-race.
Texas 10 Series Sienna
April 24; Missouri City, Texas
This inaugural run is the third race among seven in the Texas 10 Series, which features the Race to the Armadillo Cup. This particular race runs 10 miles, 5 miles and 1 mile (for kids) through the community of Sienna Plantation (near Houston) on a relatively flat course among the oak trees.
Dances with Dirt
March 12; Dade City, Fla.
This challenging trail run less than an hour from Tampa, Fla., takes runners through a cypress forest with an impressive array of botanic diversity. The loop course is primarily flat and fast, and runners can choose from a 10K, half marathon or 50K. You’ll witness plenty of wildlife, including armadillos, deer, wild pigs and maybe even an alligator.
Into the Wild OC Trail Runs
March 12; Orange, Calif.
Runners in Orange County will get to explore two of the area’s most beautiful parks (Santiago Oaks and Irvine regional parks) at this trail run that offers 21K and 10K distances. The 10K is less technical and run largely underneath a canopy of oak and sycamore trees. The 21K is more challenging with steep climbs and descents. Both races reward runners with beautiful mountain vistas.
Napa Valley Trail Marathon
March 19; Saint Helena, Calif.
This 26th annual event takes runners on the incredible singletrack at the Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. The course is challenging, with plenty of hills, streams and rocks, but you’ll be rewarded with scenic views. The area is filled with some excellent restaurants and wineries, making it a fine destination race.
Rogue Trail Series: The Maze
March 27; Austin, Texas
The first leg of this 13th annual three-race series takes place at Walnut Creek Park and features a trip through a labyrinth of trails with plenty of climbs and a few creek crossings. Each event features a 10K, 30K and three-person 30K relay, and the course is well marked with plenty of aid stations and support.
Spring Xterra Cheyenne Mountain
April 10; Colorado Springs, Colo.
Choose from the 5K, 12K or 24K at this Colorado race in the picturesque Cheyenne Mountain State Park. As you’d expect, the race does take runners to higher elevations, reaching 6,500 to 7,200 feet above sea level. Keep that in mind when choosing your distance, but each of the distances features some spectacular scenery that makes the climbing worthwhile.
April 16; Chickamauga, Ga.
This 48th annual event offers a 15K and 5K road race through the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park just across the Tennessee-Georgia state line. But it also includes an excellent 8-mile trail run that gives runners a decent view of the Civil War battlefield. The course is also relatively easy, with hardly any significant elevation changes.
Dirty Girl Mud Run
March 19; Dallas
This national series of mud and obstacle runs for women comes to the Skyline Ranch with an emphasis on having fun with friends. The 3-mile run is designed to be both challenging and entertaining, with groups definitely encouraged to conquer the course together. Plenty of team uniforms quickly become covered in mud.
Excalibur 10 Miler
March 20; Melbourne, Fla.
This medieval-themed race on Florida’s Space Coast starts with a sword fight and ends with a feast. Don’t worry, there’s no actual fighting involved, just completing the 10-mile (or 2-mile) course. Volunteers will be dressed in period costumes, and runners are encouraged to dress up as jesters, maidens and knights as well.
Down and Dirty Mud Run
April 10; Castaic, Calif.
This national series of mud and obstacle races comes to the Los Angeles area this spring. Held at the Castaic Lake State Recreation Area, the race features a 3-mile and 6-mile course with more than 20 obstacles along the route, including plenty of climbing over walls and mud pits with ropes, and a sandbag-haul to put your fitness to the test.
Night Nation Run
April 16; Chicago
This is a national series that celebrates electronic dance music on a course filled with lasers and lights. For the Chicago event, the 5K run offers an illuminated course followed by a party at Soldier Field that will feature some of the best deejays in electronic dance music and special guest celebrity performers.
Spartan Citi Field Sprint
April 16; New York City
Unless you play for the Mets, a trip to Citi Field usually involves a lot of sitting. Not with the Spartan Citi Field Sprint, an obstacle race that has runners jumping, climbing, crawling and throwing at every level of the stadium. The 3-mile race features more than 15 obstacles and a chance to never look at the ballpark the same way again.
Color Me Rad 5K
April 30; Brockton, Mass.
The national Color Me Rad series is loosely based on the Hindu festival of colors called Holi. For runners, that means starting the race with a clean white shirt and getting pelted with colorful liquids, powders and gels for three miles, creating a tie-dyed experience you won’t forget.
Puerto Rico Marathon
March 13; San Juan, Puerto Rico
Run an international race without leaving the country. Since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, you don’t need a passport to visit. Enjoy a beautiful tour of old San Juan, plus take in plenty of ocean views on the course that’s relatively flat but with a few hills to keep things interesting.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Mexico City Half Marathon
March 20; Mexico City
This nighttime race in Mexico’s capital brings the Rock ‘n’ Roll series south of the border. The half marathon spectator-filled course begins on the racetrack at Hipodromo de las Americas. Near the finish, monuments, fountains and buildings are lighted in color, while local musicians provide entertainment.
April 10; Rome
It’s tough to beat a course that starts and finishes just outside the Colosseum and hits just about every tourist attraction in the Eternal City. The course has plenty of turns, and a few sections of cobblestone streets, but you don’t do this race for a PR. You’ll be too busy enjoying the sights.
Vienna City Marathon
April 10; Vienna
Get a taste of Vienna’s impressive modern architecture and historical charm by entering this marathon. The race route takes runners across the Imperial Bridge over the Danube and passes by the Opera House and Schönbrunn Castle. Due to its central location in Europe, this race draws huge crowds and brings together an impressive international field.
May 1; Vancouver, Canada
This race is routinely listed among the top destination marathons in North America. Choose from a marathon, half marathon, 8K and relay. The courses highlight Vancouver’s natural beauty, taking runners past beaches, through parks and along the city’s seawall.
May 8; Prague
Run through one of Europe’s most scenic cities in this medium-sized race. You’ll start in Old Town Square, cross the Charles Bridge and get a view of Prague Castle and many other of the city’s famous sights. The well-preserved city offers runners a spectacular trip back in time.