7 Half Marathons Perfect for Walkers

© Dreamstime.com

© Dreamstime.com

“Walking is, I would say, without a doubt, the single best exercise that exists.”

“There have been some very good studies showing that the most efficient stride for the human body is a walk, not a run. That means we use less oxygen, we use less energy when we walk than when we run. We are built for that movement.”

That’s from an NPR interview a few years ago with Gretchen Reynolds, the New York Times fitness columnist and author of The First 20 Minutes, her 2012 book on exercising better, training smarter and living longer.

I stumbled across her book in my collection of (many still unread) books on my phone this week, and thought it made a great inspiration for races that you don’t have to run to enjoy.

Some are runner-focused with great, flat courses that walkers can enjoy, while others draw lots of walkers — and one is even walker-only. Hope you find at least one or two that you can try, if you’re like so many of us who get a lot out of a walk as well as a run.

1) New Albany Walking Classic • New Albany, OH

You’ll find walkers only, no runners anywhere, at this annual late-summer event just outside Columbus, organized by the New Albany Walking Club. It’s believed to be the biggest walkers-only race anywhere in the U.S., and features lovely views of the rolling farmland around the New Albany Country Club.

Mid September • Complete race info >>

2) Swanzey Covered Bridges Half Marathon • Swanzey, NH

You’ll experience no more than 100 feet of elevation change throughout the entire 13.1 miles at this southwestern New Hampshire race, which unfolds through covered bridges with names like Thompson, Slate, Carlton and Cresson, most of which date back to the Civil War.

Early September • Complete race info >>

3) Woodbury Country Mile Half Marathon • Woodbury, MN

Located just outside Minneapolis-St. Paul, this out-and-back loop course features a combination of hilly terrain and flat stretches, along a mixture of major highways and through wooded park paths and trails, as well as along the banks of two of the town’s lakes.

Late August • Complete race info >>

4) Towpath Half Marathon • Cuyahoga Valley National Park, OH

First run in 1992 to showcase the park’s then-new Towpath Trail, a combination paved and crushed limestone trail pathway that runs along the Ohio Canal Corridor, this well-attended race unfolds almost entirely within the 33,000-acre Cuyahoga Valley National Park, just outside nearby Cleveland.

Mid October • Complete race info >>

5) Mayor’s Midnight Sun Half Marathon • Anchorage, AK

Join a few thousand runners and walkers who trek along the coastal trails of Anchorage’s Cook Inlet at this annual summer solstice race, which is framed by spectacular mountains, forested trails and breathtaking views of the nearby Alaska wilderness, along stretches of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.

Late June • Complete race info >>

6) North Olympic Discovery Half Marathon • Port Angeles, WA

This point-to-point race unfolds along the picturesque waterfront of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, in the shadow of Washington state’s Olympic Mountain range. For its first several miles, the course snakes its way along the Old Olympic Highway and through forest-shaded areas just a stone’s throw from the water’s edge of the Port Angeles Harbor.

Early June • Complete race info >>

7) Florida Beach Halfathon • Tierra Verde, FL

Famous for its course along the long, wide white-sand beaches of Florida’s Fort De Soto Park, which has been named perennially as one of America’s top beach destinations, thanks to both its ample opportunities for swimming and recreation as well as how it is environment is protected.

Late March • Complete race info >>

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