Lace Up: The Ultimate Guide to the Best Half Marathons

Best Half Marathons To Run

Big Sur International Marathon

The Big Sur International Marathon is often featured on lists of the best and most recommended half marathons worldwide. Runners rave about the stunningly scenic course that hugs the Pacific Coast Highway, offering breathtaking views of the ocean, cliffs, and redwood forests. The challenging hills are rewarded with moments of pure awe, making it an experience that transcends a typical race. The Big Sur Half Marathon is known for its incredible scenery and challenging course, making it a bucket-list race for many runners. The race is a celebration of running, nature, and the human spirit, drawing participants from all over the world. Whether you're a seasoned marathoner or a first-timer, the Big Sur Half Marathon is an unforgettable experience.

Napa Valley Half Marathon

For runners seeking a blend of stunning scenery, world-class wineries, and a supportive race atmosphere, the Napa Valley Half Marathon consistently ranks high on "must-run" lists. Held annually in March, this race takes you through the heart of California's wine country. Imagine yourself gliding past vineyards draped in morning mist, the scent of grapes lingering in the air. The course itself is relatively flat, making it a great option for first-time half-marathoners or those chasing a personal best. But the real magic happens post-race at the finish line festival. Picture this: live music, gourmet food vendors, and of course, tastings from renowned Napa Valley wineries. It's the perfect way to celebrate your accomplishment and soak in the vibrant atmosphere. Whether you're a seasoned runner or a newbie, the Napa Valley Half Marathon offers an unforgettable experience that blends athletic achievement with the unparalleled beauty and flavors of Napa Valley.

Disney World Half Marathon

For many runners, the idea of a "RunDisney" event is the stuff of dreams. The Walt Disney World Half Marathon is no exception. This race, typically held in January, takes you on a magical journey through the most iconic locations of Walt Disney World. Imagine starting your run surrounded by the sights of Magic Kingdom, dashing past Cinderella's Castle, and high-fiving beloved Disney characters along the way. The energy is infectious, the crowds are encouraging, and the experience is unforgettable.

Race Name Location Date (Usually) Elevation Profile Known For
Big Sur International Marathon (Half Marathon option) California, USA April Hilly, Coastal Views Stunning scenery, challenging course
Nike Women's Half Marathon San Francisco, USA October Hilly, City Views Festival atmosphere, geared towards women, finisher's necklace
Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Half Marathon San Diego, USA June Relatively Flat Live music along the course, large race

Even if you're not aiming for a personal best, the atmosphere and entertainment make this race a truly rewarding experience. Plus, the medal boasts a proud Mickey Mouse, a badge of honor for conquering 13.1 miles with a touch of Disney magic. Whether you're a seasoned runner chasing a magical experience or a beginner looking for an extra dose of motivation, the Walt Disney World Half Marathon deserves a spot on your running bucket list.

best half marathons to run

Kauai Half Marathon

For runners seeking a destination race that combines stunning natural beauty with a challenging yet rewarding course, the Kauai Half Marathon should be at the top of your list. Held annually on the enchanting island of Kauai, Hawaii, this race is renowned for its breathtaking scenery and supportive atmosphere.

The Kauai Half Marathon takes runners on an unforgettable journey through lush tropical rainforests, along rugged coastlines, and past cascading waterfalls. The course is relatively flat, making it accessible to runners of all levels, but the tropical climate and occasional rolling hills provide a good challenge.

What sets the Kauai Half Marathon apart is the incredible support from the local community. The race organizers are known for their attention to detail and commitment to creating a memorable experience for participants. Aid stations are well-stocked with hydration and nutrition, and volunteers cheer on runners every step of the way.

Whether you're an experienced marathoner or a first-time half-marathon runner, the Kauai Half Marathon offers an unforgettable experience. The combination of a scenic course, a supportive atmosphere, and the opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of Kauai makes it a truly special race.

Zion Half Marathon

For runners seeking an unforgettable and scenic half marathon experience, the Zion Half Marathon should be at the top of their list. Held annually in Spring, this race takes participants through the breathtaking beauty of Zion National Park in Utah.

The course features a point-to-point route, allowing runners to soak in the awe-inspiring views of towering sandstone cliffs, emerald pools, and lush vegetation. The race starts near the park's east entrance and winds its way through the Virgin River Canyon, offering stunning vistas at every turn. With its challenging yet rewarding terrain, the Zion Half Marathon attracts both seasoned runners and those looking to push their limits amidst nature's grandeur.

best half marathons to run

The race's popularity stems not only from its scenic beauty but also from its impeccable organization and supportive atmosphere. Runners are treated to well-stocked aid stations, enthusiastic volunteers, and a festive finish line celebration. Whether one is an avid marathoner or a nature enthusiast seeking an extraordinary running adventure, the Zion Half Marathon promises an unforgettable experience.

Golden Gate Half Marathon

For runners seeking an iconic and unforgettable half marathon experience, the Golden Gate Half Marathon should be at the top of the list. This race, held annually in San Francisco, California, offers breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the city's skyline. The course is known for its challenging hills, but the stunning scenery and electric atmosphere make it all worthwhile. Runners from all over the world participate in this popular event, making it a truly global celebration of running. The Golden Gate Half Marathon is well-organized, with ample support stations and enthusiastic volunteers, ensuring a positive and memorable experience for all participants. Whether you're aiming for a personal best or simply want to soak in the incredible atmosphere, the Golden Gate Half Marathon is an exceptional choice for runners of all levels.

Twin Cities Marathon

While the Twin Cities Marathon itself is a renowned full marathon, it's not a half marathon. If you're specifically looking for top-rated half marathons, there are plenty of other fantastic options across the US known for their scenic courses, great organization, and electric atmosphere.

Consider these popular choices:

  • Big Sur International Marathon (California)
  • Napa Valley Half Marathon (California)
  • Portland Marathon (Oregon)
  • Savannah Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon (Georgia)

These races offer a mix of challenging courses and stunning scenery, making them bucket-list races for many runners. Remember to research each race individually to find the best fit for your experience level and preferences.

Marine Corps Marathon

While the Marine Corps Marathon itself is a full marathon renowned for its challenging course and patriotic atmosphere, it also offers a Half Marathon option that's equally impressive. This race consistently ranks high on "best half marathons" lists, attracting both seasoned runners and first-timers. The scenic course through Washington, D.C., passing iconic monuments and memorials, adds to the allure. The incredible crowd support, with cheering Marines and live music, creates an unforgettable race day experience. If you're looking for a half marathon with a powerful sense of accomplishment and a truly unique atmosphere, the Marine Corps Marathon - Half Marathon should be on your radar.

best half marathons to run

Chicago Marathon

While the Chicago Marathon itself is a legendary 26.2-mile race, the city also boasts an incredible half marathon experience. The Chicago Half Marathon, typically held in September, offers runners a scenic tour of the city's lakefront and iconic neighborhoods. You'll cruise past landmarks like Buckingham Fountain, Soldier Field, and the Museum Campus, all while enjoying the electric atmosphere that Chicago race weekends are known for. The relatively flat course makes it a great option for runners of all levels, whether you're aiming for a personal best or simply soaking in the incredible sights. Many runners find the Chicago Half to be the perfect stepping stone to the full marathon, offering a taste of the Chicago Marathon experience with a more manageable distance.

New York City Marathon

While the New York City Marathon itself is a grueling 26.2 miles, the Big Apple offers a fantastic selection of half marathons for runners of all levels. These races showcase the city's iconic landmarks and vibrant neighborhoods, providing an unforgettable experience for participants.

One highly recommended option is the United Airlines NYC Half, taking runners on a scenic journey through Times Square, Central Park, and lower Manhattan. The Brooklyn Half is another popular choice, offering stunning views of the Manhattan skyline as runners cross the Brooklyn Bridge. For those seeking a more laid-back atmosphere, the Bronx 10-Miler and NYC Runs Queens Half Marathon provide excellent opportunities to explore these boroughs at a more manageable pace.

No matter your skill level or desired race experience, New York City has a half marathon to suit your needs. With its iconic landmarks, enthusiastic crowds, and well-organized events, the city that never sleeps is an incredible destination for your next half marathon adventure.