Some of the Best Winter Running Races In the United States
As freezing temperatures persist throughout most of the country, many pine for the warm, sunny days of summer. For runners, winter can be especially difficult. Running in the cold is possible, but often far from pleasant and because of this many who typically prefer pavement or a path to a treadmill confine themselves to the indoors during the coldest months of the year. One way to beat the wintertime blues is to plan a trip to run a race in a warm weather destination. In the Southern United States winter is actually the best season for running, offering mild temperatures that are a welcome respite from the sweltering heat if summer.
Location: Mesa, AZ; Events: Marathon, half marathon, 10k, and 1k; Date: February 23, 2018
It’s still not too late to register for the Mesa-PHX Marathon. The marathon follows a path above the Phoenix Valley, and offers spectacular views the entire time. Beginning at 2082 feet above sea level, and then steadily going downhill for a net elevation loss of almost 1000 feet, many experience personal bests on this course. The downhill slope and timing of the marathon makes it a popular choice as a Boston qualifier. The half marathon and 10K have starting points along the marathon rout so that have all three end in the same place. Participants in the half marathon experience an elevation loss of about 350 feet. There is also a free 1K for kids, that lets them run across the finish line during the last hour that the race course is open. There are no registration requirements, however all runners must be finished within 6 hours.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon
Location: Las Vegas, NV; Events: Marathon, half marathon, 10K, and 5k; Date: November 10-11, 2018
These races are part of the larger Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series, which currently hosts races in 27 cities including some outside of the US. The Las Vegas event is one of the best. The race course goes down the famed Las Vegas strip, and participants can be proud of the fact that they have been part of the only event that fully shuts this famous street down. Before the marathon and half marathon, runners are treated to a private concert, and along all the courses there is live music. The races happen in the evening, allowing everyone to enjoy the full effect of Las Vegas’ lights as they move toward the finish line. There are no required times for qualification, however each race has a time limit for completion so that the city roads can be reopened as quickly as possible.
Location: Honolulu, HI; Events: Marathon, 10k, and 1 mile race; Date: December 9, 2018
This incredibly beautiful marathon follows roads that start in Honolulu and then wind themselves out of the city and along the coast. It is a beautiful, hilly run, that follows an out and back course. Anyone who doesn’t feel up to a full marathon can participate in the 10K instead. This shorter race starts at the same time and place as the marathon, but ends at Kapiolani Park. The day before the marathon there is also a one mile race that the whole family can participate in. No qualifying times are required for entry, and the races end when the last person crosses the finish line.
Carlsbad Marathon and Half
Location: Carlsbad, CA; Events: Marathon, half marathon, and 5k; Date: January 19-20, 2019
All three of the events that take place during the Carlsbad Marathon and Half follow an out and back rout that starts in the same place. They occur on the same day, but start times are staggered to ensure it doesn’t get too crowded. The course follows the Pacific Ocean, and participants are able to enjoy beautiful views no matter which distance they choose. If the kids have come along, head to LEGOLAND the day before to participate in a 1 mile race through the theme park designed for the whole family. No qualifying times are necessary to compete, but the marathon must be finished in 6 hours and the half must be finished in 4.25.
Best Damn Race Jacksonville
Location: Jacksonville, FL; Events: Half marathon, 10k, and 5k; Date: TBD
These races in Jacksonville are part of the Best Damn Race series, which also hosts races in Orlando, Safety Harbor, and New Orleans. There is a half marathon, 10k, and 5k. All three of the races start at the same time and locations, with runners ending at different sports along the Jacksonville Riverwalk. What really sets this race apart is the registration, which starts at an incredibly low price and then rises as more people sign up. This allows this race to be more affordable, and therefore more accessible to a larger population of people. Registration is open to everyone. Unfortunately the 2018 Best Damn Race in Jacksonville just happened, but the one in Safety Harbor is going to be in February, and the ones in Orlando and New Orleans will be in March. Dates for the 2019 event have not been released yet.
Races in the Cold
If you can’t make it to one of these beautiful wintertime destinations but still want to hit the pavement with the adrenaline of a crowd, running races during the cold months can be found just about anywhere. Look for a Turkey Day 5K, which are run in the morning on Thanksgiving and are a great way to prepare for guilt free feasting. Many cities also offer a Commitment Day 5K on New Year’s Day. Although waking up to run the day after New Year’s Eve may be difficult, it is sure to set your year off to a great start. The “It’s a Wonderful Run” 5K and Surf-n-Santa 5 Miler are two other chillier winter running races that are sure to be a fun time.