21 California Half Marathons You’ll Love Running

Runners on the course at the Monterey Bay Half Marathon. (Courtesy Big Sur International Marathon)

“Many a trip continues long after movement in time and space have ceased.” — John Steinbeck, “Travels With Charley”

1) Big Sur Trail Half Marathon

At this race you’ll follow the Old Coast Road, the first of its kind that connected the towns of Monterey and Big Sur before the road now known as Highway 1 was built. It’s challenging and hilly, with long, steep climbs and descents as well as spectacular scenery.

Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021 • Big Sur, CA

2) Marin County Half Marathon

Run along a course that’s both breathtakingly beautiful and filled with challenging uphill and downhill stretches, this race takes runners on both a journey through the hills and among the mountains overlooking California’s San Pablo Bay and San Rafael.

Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021 • San Rafael, CA

3) Golden Gate Headlands Half Marathon

Run along a backdrop that combines gorgeous natural vistas with views of San Francisco’s urban skyline in the distance, as well as a hilly and challenging course, this race features some dramatic changes in elevation.

Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021 • Sausalito, CA

4) Catalina Island Half Marathon

A great race for trail runners or those looking for a new challenge, the Catalina Island Eco Half Marathon features gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean, rugged terrain and lots of elevation change.

Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021 • Avalon, CA

5) Malibu Half Marathon

Rocky bluffs, sandy beaches, waves crashing against the shoreline, and plenty of rugged hills await on a gorgeous out-and-back route along the Pacific Coast Highway at this race, which starts and finishes at Zuma Beach.

Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021 • Malibu, CA

6) La Jolla Half Marathon

Gorgeous, hilly and challenging, the La Jolla Half Marathon welcomes more than 5,000 runners each year — this year is its 35th annual — for a race that unfolds along one of Southern California’s most scenic stretches of coastline, as well as on city streets and through parks like Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.

Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021 • La Jolla, CA

7) Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon

The is a pretty large contingent of runners who also love wine. They are both good for your heart, right? The Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon is the ultimate destination race for wine lovers who appreciate a glass or two after covering 13.1 miles.

Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021 • Sonoma, CA

8) Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon

If you’ve ever traveled to San Francisco and driven through or just walked past the gorgeous landscape that is Golden Gate Park, then you know why Runner’s World ranked this as one of the country’s most scenic half marathon races.

Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022 • San Francisco, CA

9) Surf City USA Half Marathon

Often mentioned as one of the nation’s best all-around road races, this event follows a long, scenic out-and-back course along the Pacific Coast Highway, and includes stretches past the famed Huntington Beach pier and the Bolsa Chica Wetlands.

Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022 • Huntington Beach, CA

10) Heartbreak Ridge Run Half Marathon

You’ll run off-road trails through the hilly mountain wilderness of the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base at this springtime race, which climbs some 1,280 feet over the course of the half.

April 2022 • Camp Pendleton, CA

11) San Diego Beach & Bay Half Marathon

Run around the sun-dappled waters of Mission Bay, this half marathon features a fast and very flat course that offers the chance to take in the gorgeous skyline of San Diego and its beaches, and run past some of its best-loved sights.

Sunday, April 10, 2022 • San Diego, CA

12) Rodeo Beach Rumble Half Marathon

Run among the hills, trails, military landmarks and dramatic coastal shorelines of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area at this race, where you can enjoy a day at the beach after you cross the finish line at Rodeo Cove.

TBD • Sausalito, CA

13) Mountains 2 Beach Half Marathon

Towering mountains, green hillsides and valleys, and the waves crashing along the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean are just some of the scenery runners will see at this race between Ojai and Ventura in Southern California.

Sunday, May 29, 2022 • Ventura, CA

14) Truckee Running Festival Waddle Ranch Trail Half Marathon

You’ll get to run through some of the most stunning scenery the Lake Tahoe area has to offer at this event, as you’ll pass by mountains, forests and lakes, and make your way along single-track trails for much of the race.

June (2022 TBD) • Truckee, CA

15) Olympic Valley Half Marathon

Just a few hundred runners finished both races combined last year at this stunningly beautiful race, which runs the roads and trails of California’s famed Squaw Valley Ski Resort, the home of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games.

TBD • Olympic Valley, CA

16) Angel Island Half Marathon

Set to run around the largest natural island in San Francisco Bay, this race follows a looping trail around Angel Island State Park, a place where you can see some of the most stunning views of the Marin Headlands and the rest of the Bay Area.

Saturday, June 25, 2022 • Angel Island State Park, CA

17) Mammoth Half Marathon

You’ll start this stunningly picturesque race through Northern California’s High Sierras at roughly 9,000 feet above sea level, and follow a route that runs along a combination of trails and mountain roads — including stretches around lakes and across a bridge — next to the Sierra Nevada Resort and Spa.

TBD • Mammoth Lakes, CA

18) Oakland Redwoods Half Marathon

Nestled among the hills east of downtown Oakland and home to one of the Bay Area’s largest natural stands of coast redwood trees, this race makes its debut this summer with a loop around Redwoods Regional Park.

Saturday, July 16, 2022 • Oakland, CA

19) The San Francisco Half Marathons

When it is hot and muggy in the middle of summer, escape to the oasis of San Francisco, whose marathon is held at the end of July and runners from all over come to enjoy a weekend of (usually) cooler temperatures — and you’ll have two half marathon routes to choose from.

Sunday, July 24, 2022 • San Francisco, CA

20) America’s Finest City Half Marathon

This point-to-point race takes runners from the majestic views of the historic Cabrillo National Monument overlooking the Pacific to the green, expansive meadows of Balboa Park, whose 1,200 acres are home to 15 museums including the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022 • San Diego, CA

21) 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, Nov. 13, 2022 • Monterey, CA

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