10 Perfect Half Marathons For a PR This Summer

© Martinmark | Dreamstime.com

© Martinmark | Dreamstime.com

With summer-like heat descending across much of the nation recently, it’s not easy to find a race where you can achieve a personal record (PR) time.

But there are still places, especially in the northern tier states, that offer lower-than-average temperatures and give runners the chance to race their fastest 13.1 miles.

These courses — like any race that’s considered optimal for a PR — typically have little elevation change, few turns, and are almost exclusively run on roads.

1) Lake Michigan Half Marathon • Muskegon, MI

Run on a loop-style course that hugs the shore of Lake Michigan for nearly the entire race, the Lake Michigan Half features only a few turns in the first section of the course, followed by almost a straight shot to the finish in the second half — with temperatures averaging around 60°F.

Late June • Complete race info »

2) Fairfield Half Marathon • Fairfield, CT

With the Long Island Sound as a backdrop, the Fairfield Half treats runners to a breezy sea-level course with only a few small elevation changes. Climbs are minimal, though the race does have a couple of tight turns near the start/finish. (The race also has separate starting lines for men and women.)

Late June • Complete race info »

3) Foot Traffic Flat Half Marathon • Portland, OR

Touted as fast and flat, this race is a perfect contender for a summer PR, thanks to its single loop course with minimal turns and elevation changes. Runners flock here from around the country to run the race’s Boston Qualifier full marathon, and with temperatures usually in the 50s, it’s likely you’ll encounter near-perfect race day weather.

4th of July • Complete race info »

4) Grand Traverse Half Marathon • Traverse City, MI

With four different distances that draw some 50,000 runners each summer, the Meijer Festival of Races has a half marathon with two miles of trails at the start, after which runners can fly for the last 11 miles on a point-to-point course. Thanks to its location next to Grand Traverse Bay, the race typically offers breezy and cool conditions.

Mid July • Complete race info »

5) Ocean Shores Foot Fest Half Marathon • Ocean Shores, WA

One of many running, biking and triathlon races offered over this mid-July weekend along Washington’s Point Brown peninsula, the half marathon offers runners the chance to chase a PR easily — thanks to an out-and-back course that tops out at 20 feet above sea level and a location with an average high of 66°F and an average low of 52°F.

Mid July • Complete race info »

6) Narragansett Bay Half Marathon • East Providence, RI

This out-and-back course unfolds along the Providence River, offering runners scenic views of the water and downtown Providence. With a total elevation gain of 273 feet, the course has just a few short climbs — and with average temperatures in the 60s, racers can shoot for a huge summer PR.

Late July • Complete race info »

7) Stumptown Half Marathon • Fairview, OR

Two loops on a paved bike path with minimal elevation changes make for a PR-worthy course at the Stumptown Half, which features a post-race party with brunch, strawberry shortcake and beer from the local Deschutes Brewery. Held at Fairview’s Blue Lake Park, this scenic course is perfectly flat and fast.

Late July • Complete race info »

8) RBC Race for the Kids Minnesota Half Marathon • St. Paul, MN

Running alongside the Mississippi River, the out-and-back course for the Minnesota Half is flat and fast, with just two turns and very minimal elevation change. Race day temperatures typically never leave the 60s, making conditions in August seem downright pleasant.

Early August • Complete race info »

9) Catherine Creek Classic Half Marathon • Union, OR

One caveat about this race: it’s not flat. Starting at nearly 3,700 feet above sea level, this course rolls downhill the entire way, to the finish at about 2,800 feet. There are a few sections of -6% grades, for which you’ll need to prepare your quads. However, runners prepared for this pounding can fly for 13.1 miles here.

Early August • Complete race info »

10) Humboldt Bay Half Marathon • Eureka, CA

This point-to-point course isn’t entirely flat, but it climbs a total of only 130 feet throughout the entire 13.1 miles. With minimal turns and sea level elevations, runners seeking a fast race in August should consider this inaugural race, for which organizers have designed a course that should give runners a nice tailwind as they head towards the finish.

Mid August • Complete race info »

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