17 ‘Off-Road’ Half Marathons in 2018-19

Courtesy Towpath Marathon

“All I do is keep on running in my own cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter what anybody else says.” — Haruki Murakami, author of “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running


1) Trail Loppet Half Marathon • Minneapolis, MN

Most of this race, which features both a 13.1-mile and 13.1-kilometer distance, takes runners on the dirt and grass trails inside Theodore Wirth Park, just west of downtown Minneapolis, featuring some challenging hills and forgiving surfaces.

Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018 • Race info & signup »

2) Potomac River Run Half Marathon • Washington, DC

This race — which bills itself as the “easiest marathon and half marathon in America” — takes place on the soft dirt path of the C&O Canal Towpath trail, which stretches all the way from the tidal basin in Washington, D.C. to the mountains of western Maryland.

Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018 • Race info & signup »

3) Autumn Georgetown Half Marathon • Washington, DC

Also run on the C&O Canal towpath along the Potomac River, this pancake-flat race unfolds along dirt paths that are considered an excellent spot for the runner looking to set a personal record time.

Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018 • Race info & signup »

4) Towpath Half Marathon • Sagamore Hills, OH

You’ll follow a winding route among the wooded trails of Ohio’s 33,000-acre Cuyahoga Valley National Park, along a crushed limestone trail that runs along the Ohio Canal Corridor, a 110-mile stretch of recreational paths for bikers, hikers and walkers.

Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018 • Race info & signup »

5) Big Woods Run Half Marathon • Faribault, MN

You’ll trek through the wooded, tree-lined dirt and gravel trails of southern Minnesota’s Nerstrand Big Woods State Park at the Big Woods Run, a fall race that draws several hundred runners out each year.

Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018 • Race info & signup »

6) West Virginia Trilogy Half Marathon • Circleville, WV

Called the “highest race in West Virginia” by the race organizers, this race (which also features a 50K and 50-miler) takes runners on a tour of the winding trails up and down the mountains of the Monongahela National Forest in the state’s northeastern corner.

Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018 • Race info & signup »

7) Chessie Trail Fall Half Marathon • Lexington, VA

You’ll run a mostly flat and fast trail shaded by ash, oak and beech trees turning every shade of yellow, orange and red this fall at this race, which follows a 7-mile-long dirt and gravel trail built on the old Chesapeake & Ohio railroad corridor.

Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018 • Race info & signup »

8) Rockledge Rumble Trail Half Marathon • Grapevine, TX

Run along the twisting, winding trails of Dallas’s Lake Grapevine, this race features a combination of different kinds of terrain, from soft dirt trails in the early miles to much rockier and more challenging ground in the later miles.

Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 • Race info & signup »

9) Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon • Los Angeles, CA

Run the challenging hills and trails of a piece of Hollywood history at this race, which takes runners through a park in the middle of one of the nation’s largest urban areas, which has played a role in countless movies and television shows, from the 1955 James Dean classic Rebel Without a Cause to shows like 24.

Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 • Race info & signup »

10) Tryon Half Marathon • Tryon, NC

Run through the “friendliest town in the South” here in the mountains of western North Carolina, along a course made up of 25 percent paved roads and 75 percent packed dirt and gravel. Much of the course winds alongside the river, so you’ll get to see plenty of mountain streams and cross over the North Pacolet River.

Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018 • Race info & signup »

11) X-Country Half Marathon • Lithia, FL

You’ll run dirt trails through wide open meadows and wooded forests within Florida’s 6,200-acre Alafia River State Park at this autumn race, as well as over sweeping grass plains and plenty of hills.

Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018 • Race info & signup »

12) Helen Holiday Trail Half Marathon • Helen, GA

Tucked away in the north Georgia mountains near Helen, a small town that refashioned itself years ago into a Bavarian-style tourist destination for its Oktoberfest festival, Unicoi State Park and Lodge plays host to this race just over a week before Christmas.

Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018 • Race info & signup »

13) Grasslands Trail Run Half Marathon • Decatur, TX

You’ll need to be ready for real trail running at this race through the 20,000-acre Caddo and Lyndon Johnson National Grasslands in the Texas backcountry – which means you’ll need to be ready to run across streams, through muddy bogs, as well as sand and underbrush.

March • Race info & signup »

14) Trail Trashed Half Marathon • Henderson, NV

Run through Henderson’s Hidden Falls Park, just a short drive from Las Vegas, at this early spring race that features plentiful views of the mountains and hills all around, the gorgeous rock formations that this region is known for, and lots of rocky, desert terrain.

Saturday, March 9, 2019 • Race info & signup »

15) Ice Age Trail Run Half Marathon • LaGrange, WI

Named one of America’s most scenic races by Trail Runner magazine, this race takes runners on a tromping, hilly run through Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine State Forest, along a series of single- and double-track trails, along a combination of soft, grassy trails as well as twisting, hilly runs through the woods.

Saturday, May 11, 2019 • Race info & signup »

16) Grand Island Trail Half Marathon • Munising, MI

This summertime race takes runners through the heart of the forest on Michigan’s 13,500-acre Grand Island, which lies a half-mile ferry ride off the coast of nearby Munising and has been kept in its natural state to protect its forests, coastline and beaches.

July • Race info & signup »

17) 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 with soft dirt and gravel surfaces, along gorgeous scenery thanks to the mountain peaks all around and the Roaring Fork River alongside the trail, and an almost all-downhill course.

Saturday, July 13, 2019 • Race info & signup »

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