“Happiness [is] only real when shared.” — Jon Krakauer
If you’ve read the book “Into The Wild,” or seen the 2007 movie based on it, then the line above probably rings familiar to you. It’s what the book’s protagonist Chris McCandless discovers at the end of his long (and ultimately tragic) journey to Alaska, after reading the final pages of “Doctor Zhivago.”
That a young man who’d spent months on his own in the wild backcountry of Alaska would come to that realization speaks to something in all of us, a yearning both to get away but also to come back and connect.
Running, when you do it with someone who matters to you, can offer that kind of connection as well. I’m not sure I ever would have enjoyed the halfs I’ve run in recent years nearly as much without the friendship of the people I’ve run with for all of those miles.
That’s because while, sure, I would have achieved those finisher medals whether I ran with friends or not, those experiences wouldn’t have meant nearly as much to me without the connection I’ve been lucky to enjoy with all of them.
The races below offer you the chance to capture that same kind of experience with your girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, significant other or anyone you love. And after a week like the one we’ve all seen, that’s something worth celebrating.
Fast and mostly flat through the streets of this city immortalized in John Berendt’s classic “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” this race is tailor-made for runners who just want to enjoy the course and have plenty of time after to take in the many sights that Savannah has to offer.
Saturday, November 5 • Savannah, Ga.
While it’s definitely not a flat race, both San Francisco Halfs (you can run either the first or second half of the 26.2-mile course) offer up gorgeous views of this city’s scenic neighborhoods, Fisherman’s Wharf waterfront, and of course the Golden Gate Bridge.
Sunday, July 31 • San Francisco, Calif.
Another Saturday race that leaves you plenty of time after to explore Hilton Head’s plentiful beaches or just relax with a book on the sand, and a cocktail at the end of the day to watch the sunset as the palm trees sway in the wind.
Saturday, February 11 • Hilton Head Island, S.C.
If you want a city with southern charm, this is the one. Thanks to its location along the South Carolina coast, the course is mostly flat and its mid-winter temperatures are usually pretty mild, which means you’ll have some energy in the tank after the race to get out and enjoy Charleston’s amazing restaurants.
Saturday, January 14 • Charleston, S.C.
I realize this sounds like an odd pick, but a few years back I ran this cozy little half, set on a converted railroad trail just outside Atlanta. It’s perfect for running with close friends or your significant other, as the trees close in from either side and make it so you just have to stay close to one another.
Saturday, October 29 • Mableton, Ga.
Definitely a race for active couples, the Autumn Color Run unfolds through a spectacularly scenic part of Colorado known as the “Fourteeners” region, thanks to its numerous mountains that reach 14,000 feet in elevation. The mostly downhill course means you both have a good chance of setting a new PR.
Saturday, September 17 • Buena Vista, Colo.
Few places across the U.S. evoke the romance and awe that the Northern California coast does, and Monterey is one of the most beautiful places anywhere to run a race, as you’re likely to spot sea gulls floating on the breeze and sea lions out along the rocky Pacific shoreline here.
Sunday, November 13 • Monterey, Calif.
Run through the famed “Tunnel of Trees” on this Hawaiian island, whose pristine sand beaches, lush jungle-like rain forests and green, cloud-covered mountains create the rain that washes down the waterfalls to the ocean below. You’ll get to take it all in during (and after) the race.
Sunday, September 4 • Poipu, Hawaii
Nestled among California’s wine-growing mecca near St. Helena and Napa, the charming little town of Calistoga hosts this race each fall, surrounded by vineyards and a sky filled with views of Mount St. Helena and the Palisades off in the distance. You’ll run by plenty of wineries on the course along the Silverado Trail, which starts and finishes in Calistoga.
Sunday, November 13 • Calistoga, Calif.
Fast and nearly all flat thanks to the roads through the golf resort neighborhoods of this South Carolina island, this race features only “the gentlest of hills,” and with its Saturday morning starting time will leave you plenty of time to enjoy and relax on Kiawah after the race.
Saturday, December 10 • Kiawah Island, S.C.