13 Bucket List Half Marathons in Extraordinary Places

Runners on the course at the Teamsport Gozo Half Marathon in Malta. (Courtesy Teamsport Gozo Half Marathon)

1) Bhutan International Half Marathon

Ready for a real-life adventure? That’s what you’ll get at this race, which takes place in one of the world’s most mysterious places in this landlocked nation in the Himalaya Mountains between India and China, at an elevation of 6,700 feet above sea level.

Saturday, March 2, 2019 • Punakha, Bhutan

2) International Moorea Half Marathon

Run the length of the northern shore of this tiny island in the Society Islands of French Polynesia, known for its jagged volcanic mountains and its gorgeous sandy beaches, passing by Ōpūnohu Bay and Cook’s Bay by the time you reach the finish line.

Saturday, March 30, 2019 • Moorea, French Polynesia

3) Two Oceans Half Marathon

Run where the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans meet — you can actually see the place where they collide here — at this race that runs in the shadow of Table Mountain National Park, the majestic flat mountain that looks over the city.

Saturday, April 20, 2019 • Cape Town, South Africa

4) Dubrovnik Half Marathon

One of the most stunningly beautiful cities anywhere in the Mediterranean awaits at this Croatian city on the Adriatic Sea, where you’ll run portions of the race on the walls through the city, as well as along the Stradun, its most famous and oldest street.

Sunday, April 28, 2019 • Dubrovnik, Croatia

5) Teamsport Gozo Half Marathon

Set for the last weekend in April on Gozo Island in Malta, the Mediterranean archipelago scattered between Sicily and the coast of Northern Africa, this race is definitely one to dream about.

Sunday, April 28, 2019 • Gozo Island, Malta

6) Sierra Leone Half Marathon

What Runner’s World magazine calls the world’s “craziest and most worthwhile marathon” awaits at this race, which tromps through the lush jungle forests just outside the city of Makeni while raising money for Street Child, a charity that works to get children in the west African country off the streets and back into family homes and schools.

Sunday, May 26, 2019 • Makeni, Sierra Leone

7) Olympikus Half Marathon at the Rio Marathon

You’ll run entirely along the coastline of this bustling, teeming Brazilian metropolis that looks out into the waters of Guanabara Bay at this race, where the 2016 Summer Olympics were held.

Saturday, June 22, 2019 • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

8) Half on the Head

Sometimes called “the most scenic half marathon in Ireland,” the Half on the Head unfolds largely along the Wild Atlantic Way here on the wild western coast of Ireland. Depending on the weather, you’ll get to take in stunning views of the Cliffs of Dooneen, Tralee Bay and Mount Brandon.

Sunday, June 15, 2019 • Ballyheige, Kerry, Ireland

9) Pikes Peak Ascent Half Marathon

Ever wanted to run up the Colorado mountain that holds such a special place in the minds of outdoor enthusiasts around the world? You’ll top out at just over 14,000 feet above sea level by the time you reach the peak, to celebrate one of the most difficult (and satisfying) accomplishments you can achieve in the world of running.

Saturday, August 24, 2019 • Manitou Springs, CO

10) The Kauai Half Marathon

With its pristine sand beaches, lush jungle-like rain forests and massive green cloud-covered mountains, Kauai offers one of the most beautiful places anywhere on earth for a running event, and this race gives you the chance to see it all up close.

Sunday, September 1, 2019 • Kauai, HI

11) Monterey Bay Half Marathon

For sheer natural beauty and dramatic coastal scenery, it’s pretty much impossible to top this event, which runs alongside the Pacific Ocean crashing against the shoreline for most of the race.

Sunday, November 10, 2019 • Monterey, CA

12) Havana Half Marathon

Runners get to run along the Malecón, a sea wall that stretches 8 kilometers along the waterfront of Havana Harbor, at this early fall race. Built in 1901 to protect the city from the ocean, today it’s home to fishermen by day and lovers meeting at night.

Sunday, November 10, 2019 • Havana, Cuba

13) KLM Curaçao Half Marathon

You’ll run along the waterfront of this tiny Caribbean island nation at November’s KLM Curaçao Half Marathon, where you’ll pass the “swinging old lady”, the famous Queen Emma pontoon bridge and even over the Juliana Bridge, one of the highest bridges in the world.

Sunday, November 24, 2019 • Curaçao

4 comments… add one
  • Ross February 7, 2019, 5:52 am

    Great list! Could you do one for the US? I’d love to go run some of the ones on your list (I’ve been to Dubrovnik before and the scenery is breathtaking), but the reality is I don’t have the time for money to get to some of these places. You could make it a series of articles highlighting “bucket list” HMs on every continent!

  • Georgia Baker January 24, 2018, 9:23 am

    I’d like to thank you for your articles . I really enjoy them . Thank You for taking the time out to share .
    Happy Running!
    Georgia Baker

    • Terrell Johnson January 24, 2018, 8:56 pm

      Thank you, Georgia! And thanks for being a reader. You rock! What half(s) do you have coming up?

      • Georgia baker February 13, 2018, 11:12 pm

        We are doing the West Point Half in NY ,March 25 . It is spectacular !! They open with the paratroops landing in Michie Stadium followed by a canon start. The views along the hudson river are amazing , a few hills but worth it all as each mile is dedicated to a fallen cadet that has their story board at the mile marker. Its a must do ! Thanks again for your commitment to this blog ! Best, Georgia

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