13.1 Stunning Summer Half Marathons

© Dreamstime

© Dreamstime

“Remember, the feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running.” — Sarah Condor

Words like these are often what I need when the temperatures climb and the air gets as humid as a sauna like it does where I live in Atlanta this time of year, a time when I’d really rather just “sit around.”

That’s why it often takes a little extra inspiration to get moving on days when it’s 90 degrees outside, and races like the ones below might just be that extra inspiration you and I both need — they offer gorgeous city courses like San Francisco, or rugged and stunning natural beauty like the Vail and Aspen Valley Halfs.

1) Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon • Sonoma, CA

Named by Runner’s World as the half marathon with the “best finish,” due in no small part to the Wine & Music Festival that awaits runners at the finish line in Sonoma Plaza, this race offers some of the country’s most beautiful and dramatic scenery, at the finish and all along the course.

Sunday, July 17 • Race info & signup »

2) La Sportiva Vail Half Marathon • Vail, CO

Just a few hundred runners hit the trails of the famed Colorado ski resort every summer for this race, which features plenty of dirt, rocks and tree roots as well as wide-open grassy areas, and takes runners past a number of the Vail ski slopes for an up-and-down, high-elevation race with lots of uneven terrain.

Sunday, July 24 • Race info & signup »

3) Morgan Valley Half Marathon • Morgan, UT

Situated at just above 5,000 feet in the mountains to the northeast of Salt Lake City, Morgan offers some truly breathtaking scenery, framed by green, tree-covered hills and mountains of the Cache National Forest to the north and the snow-capped peaks of the Wasatch Mountains to the east.

Saturday, July 30 • Race info & signup »

4) Aspen Valley Half Marathon • Aspen, CO

More than 7,000 feet up in the Rockies, this race takes runners off the highways and onto a converted rail corridor trail, along gorgeous scenery thanks to the Roaring Fork River alongside the trail, and an almost all-downhill course from the start to the finish.

Saturday, July 16 • Race info & signup »

5) Fueled by Fine Wine Half Marathon • Dundee, OR

Framed by the rolling vineyards and farmlands of northwest Oregon’s Willamette River Valley as well as by the majestic peaks of mountains including Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson and the Cascade Range off in the distance, this small Oregon city welcomes more than 1,000 runners every summer.

Sunday, July 10 • Race info & signup »

6) Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon • Portland, ME

Runners get the chance to look out onto the beach, run across bridges and around the popular Back Cove Trail along the Portland waterfront at this race, which starts overlooking the Casco Bay and East End Beach, the city’s popular public beach.

Saturday, July 9 • Race info & signup »

7) Bryce Canyon Half Marathon • Bryce, UT

The point-to-point course for this race offers a flat and downhill run, boasting a net elevation loss of 1800 feet through Utah’s spectacular Bryce Canyon National Park, a geologic wonder with incredible red rock formations, stunning views of canyons like Inspiration Point, and wide-open skies.

Saturday, July 9 • Race info & signup »

8) Urban Wildland Half Marathon • Richfield, MN

Promoted as “Minnesota’s Green Race,” this event is perhaps unique in that all waste generated during the event — from cups thrown on the ground by runners to food and packaging discarded at the race start and finish lines — is recycled, re-used or composted.

Saturday, August 6 • Race info & signup »

9) Grand Island Trail Half Marathon • Munising, MI

Just off the coast of this small city that looks out onto Lake Superior along Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, runners get a chance to run the trails, hills, beaches and forests of this 13,500-acre island, which is accessible only by ferry boat and kept in its primitive, natural state.

Saturday, July 23 • Race info & signup »

10) Catharine Valley Half Marathon • Watkins Glen, NY

A long, very gradual ascent of less than 250 feet in elevation from the start to the half-way point, followed by an equally gradual descent in the second half, awaits at this race, which takes runners through the green, lush park areas of the Catharine Valley Trail in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York.

Saturday, July 23 • Race info & signup »

11) Monkey Face Half Marathon • Terrebonne, OR

The “Monkey Face,” a 350-ft.-high rock pillar in Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park, is known as one of the world’s toughest rock climbs and draws climbers from all over, and really does look like a monkey when you view it from the right angle. The race takes runners through this 641-acre park in the high desert country of central Oregon.

Saturday, August 20 • Race info & signup »

12) The San Francisco Half Marathons • San Francisco, CA

Both of the two 13.1-mile routes here show off different parts of what makes the city what it is, from the Embarcadero and Fisherman’s Wharf in the first half to the scenery of the second half, including gorgeous Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury district and AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

Sunday, July 31 • Race info & signup »

13) Breck Crest Mountain Half Marathon • Breckenridge, CO

Though it features road stretches through Colorado’s Breckenridge Village and much longer stretches along the wooded, mountainous trails just outside the town center, the trail race portion is the reason many of the runners come out for the race, to see the beauty of this part of the Colorado Rockies.

Saturday, August 27 • Race info & signup »

13.1) Jackson Hole Half Marathon • Jackson, WY

Home to stunning views of the nearby Grand Teton mountains that tower over 13,000 feet above sea level, while the surrounding countryside remains relatively un-commercialized among one of the nation’s most scenic regions, this race offers a beautiful way to spend 13.1 miles.

Saturday, September 3 • Race info & signup »

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