The Best Half Marathons For Every Type of Runner

Looking for a memorable experience for your racing schedule? After so many years of blah, you’re not the only runner looking to blast through a fan-favorite race course. This set us out on a journey to find the best half marathons in every state.

In 2022, experts predicted that races would rebound from the 2020 and 2021 cancellations and deferrals, but that turned out not yet to be the case. According to RunSignup (should we hyperlink?), race participation was still down 10%from 2019. Maybe during the racing hiatus, runners discovered that running for the sake of running was good enough.  There was less of an allure calling them to line their walls with more finisher medals. Maybe they realized they don’t need to run as many races as they used to, making room for new hobbies. 

Choosing to run a half marathon in 2023 might be more of a selective process. 

To keep ahead of the curve, we spent months researching the best courses and racing experiences across the United States. How did these races make our list? 1. If we’ve run it and loved it, it’s on the list. 2. It ranks highly among other runners we surveyed who have participated in it. 3. We made sure the races were well-organized with beautiful and fun courses. Beauty (and fun) is in the eye of the beholder, though, so we’ve included a variety to appeal to every type of runner. 

Related: The Best Half Marathons in the World

Best Half Marathons on a Low Budget with a Local Feel

Some of the best races are no fuss and no frills. What makes these the best half marathons is that they are down-to-earth, inexpensive, and still a blast all at the same time. 

Hibiscus Half in Hawaii

The Hibiscus Half in Honolulu is an ideal vacation race. At $55, registration is on the lower end as far as half marathons go, so you can splurge elsewhere in your trip. The course takes you along the waterfront and most of the way around the base of Diamond Head State Monument. 

The only downside to this half marathon is the likelihood of hot weather, with the average temps ranging from 70 – 80 degrees. A cooling dip is not far off with the finish line only 20 feet from the ocean. 

May 28, 2023 | Read More | Register

Juneau Half Marathon in Alaska

This inexpensive half marathon should be on your bucket list if it’s not already. The out-and-back race course consists of gentle rolling hills. Participants run along the northeast side of Douglas Island–west of downtown Juneau and accessible by bridge–for spectacular mountain, glacier, forest, and ocean views. 

What really makes a summer race in Alaska great? The weather is ideal with average temperatures in the 50s and 60s. 

July 29, 2023 | Read More | Register

Salina Crossroads in Kansas

The Salina Crossroads Half Marathon may look small, but runners still flock from all across the country to attend. In the first week that 2023 registration was open, 15 states were already represented in registered runners.

What makes this race listworthy? A dedicated group of race organizers that work hard to give runners all the perks they can. One unique benefit: For every 100 registrants, they draw five names to give away free entries to family or friends. Running a half marathon is better with company. 

November 4, 2023 | Register

Best Half Marathons If You Want a Big To-Do

While some people love low-capacity, intimate races, others want race day to feel like a parade–a celebration after months of training. These are some of the best traffic-stopping half marathons. 

Brooklyn Half Marathon in New York

One of the largest half marathons in the world takes place in Brooklyn, catering to over 20,000 runners. The mostly flat and fast course starts at Prospect Park, heads out towards Ocean Parkway, and ends at Coney Island. 

Note: This is a popular event and is already sold out for 2023. Check back for 2024 registration. 

May 20, 2023 | Read More | Register

Pittsburgh Half Marathon in Pennsylvania

When day-of logistics are handled smoothly, you’re set up for success for the rest of the race. The folks that put on the Pittsburgh Half Marathon have nailed it, orchestrating a large, well-oiled race. The lively course traverses downtown Pittsburgh, crossing each of the three rivers, and taking runners on a tour of the north and south sides of town. 

May 7, 2023 | Read More | Register

Chicago Spring Half Marathon

If you want to race along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Chicago, but you’re not ready for the full marathon, the Chicago Spring Half Marathon is a good compromise. Spring in Chicago is a true emergence as fellow racers are eager to defrost from harsh midwest winters that the city is prone to experiencing. 

The posh post-race festival, hosted at Maggie Daley Park (adjacent Millennium Park), includes a full brunch buffet, beer garden, and DIY flower station where each runner can bring home a complementary floral arrangement to show off alongside their race medal. 

May 21, 2023 | Read More | Registration

Hartford Half Marathon

There’s nothing but autumn New England charm all along the Hartford Half Marathon course, starting at the capitol building and finishing in Bushnell Park under the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch.   

Runners looking for a traditional pre and post race experience will appreciate the large Fitness Expo where they can pick up their race bibs and swag and the post-race food tent and beer garden. This year marks this race’s 30th anniversary, so there is sure to be extra fanfare. Remember, race day is your day!

October 14, 2023 | Read More | Register

Columbus Half Marathon in Ohio

Another exhilarating downtown race, the Columbus Half Marathon is a looped course starting and ending at North Bank Park. The fast course is sprinkled with hearty midwestern spirit, starting with fireworks at the gun, an animated crowd as the miles stretch on, and live music at the finish. The weekend’s festivities are centered around the race’s partnership with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, which has received $12 million in donations thanks to the race in the past 12 years. 

October 15, 2023 | Read More | Register

Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon

Indianapolis has a reputation when it comes to speed. The Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon proves there’s more to this city than the iconic speedway. The course, which consists of gentle rolling hills and a scenic stretch along the White River Greenway, takes you on a tour of Indianapolis history, including the oldest neighborhood (established in 1843), the governor’s residence, and the Indiana War Memorial.

October 28, 2023 | Read More | Register

Best Half Marathon for Fast Finishers

These half marathons are no stranger to personal records and Boston qualifiers. 

Horsetooth Half in Colorado

Colorado’s Horsetooth Half is celebrating its 50th birthday in 2023. There’s a reason runners keep coming back to this esteemed half marathon. 

If you’re looking for a fast finish, all you have to do is conquer ‘monster mountain’ at the beginning, a 500’ gain in elevation over 1.8 miles and then the rest of the Horsetooth Half Marathon is mostly downhill. Beware though, the race takes place at the dazzling Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins, Colorado and starts at a gnarly 5,195-feet in elevation. The fastest course times in the past have come from locals and elite runners used to training at high altitudes all over the world.  

April 16, 2023 | Read More | Register

Eugene Half Marathon in Oregon

If “flat and fast” are music to your ears, then head to Track Town USA to run the Eugene Half Marathon. Running along the scenic Willamette River in peak springtime is already a perk in and of itself, but finishing at the University of Oregon’s legendary Hayward Field is a dream come true for die hard track fans. You can also expect a big showing from the crowds. 

This is a city-wide event, so be sure to show your race bib to participating restaurants in the area for extra discounts–or just to brag.  

April 30, 2023 | Read More | Register

Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in Minnesota 

Part of Grandma’s Marathon weekend, the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon has a reputation for being a good time. This is a big race with small town hospitality. Run along Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota, the course is relatively flat and known for being fast. 

Note: This is another popular race and is already sold out for 2023, but there are still options to gaining entry: 1. Snag a charity bib and raise money for a good cause to earn your spot. 2. Peruse the bib transfer portal to connect with registered runners looking to sell their entry. 

June 17, 2023 | Read More | Register

Big Cottonwood Canyon Half Marathon in Utah

Race times from traditional races nationwide are, on average, 10-30 percent slower than the average finishing times for Big Cottonwood Canyon races in Utah. That’s because this course is truly all downhill. (No, you don’t have to run uphill, first.) The net descent for the half marathon is 2,856 feet. 

Beyond its potential for PRs, runners return year after year to run among the stunning golden aspen trees and watch the sun rise in the canyon. 

September 9, 2023 | Read More | Register

Baystate Half Marathon in Massachusetts 

Baystate is the well-oiled machine of races. The course is simple–two times around a roughly three-mile stretch of the Merrimack River–and flat. If you’re looking for a half marathon PR, this is the place to come chase it. 

The race directors pride themselves in putting on an event that is easy and enjoyable for runners. For 2023 they’ve moved the expo to the same location as the course, added courtesy changing tents adjacent to bag check, added a ‘Motivation Mile’ full of inspiration from the Greater Lowell Runners, added monitors to the finish line to show each runner’s name and finishing time, and plan to deliver a ‘fly-through’ drone video along with a personalized photo gallery the next day for only the best post-race bragging. 

October 15, 2023 | Read More | Register

Houston Half Marathon in Texas

Houston is the place where records drop. With only a 30’ difference in the highest and lowest points along the course, it truly is a flat, fast race. 

That’s not all this race has to offer. Houston Half Marathon is also a race that doesn’t take itself too seriously. With over 250,000 spectators lining the way, the crowd support (and maybe a belly dancer or Elvis impersonator) will carry you to a fast finish. 

January 13, 2024 | Read More | Register

Best Half Marathons if You Want a Party Vibe

Runners have more fun – that’s the saying, right? 

Las Vegas is home to one of the largest and best half marathons in the  country - the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas.
Courtesy of Rock ‘n’ Roll Race Series

Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Half in Nevada

You’ve run your fair share of sunrise races, but have you ever raced through sunset into the dark of night? At the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, participants run the strip at night– past Mandalay Bay, Caesar’s Palace, Treasure Island, Circus Circus, and the lot of them–and finish at a full blown party. Grab your glow sticks and get training! 

February 25, 2023 | Read More | Register

Brewcity Half Marathon in Wisconsin

Brewcity Half Marathon offers the full Wisconsin experience in one race. Running along the Milwaukee River, participants pass through park after park (Hubbard Park, Lincoln Park, Riverside Park) in the peak of spring. Though you could also be running in a spring snowstorm. Like we said, the full Wisconsin experience. 

No matter what the weather does, you’ll get to enjoy a beer and a brat with music alongside other accomplished runners. 

April 22, 2023 | Read More | Register

San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in California 

This isn’t just a race, it’s a “running block party.” There is a reason why the Rock ‘n’ Roll racing series is so popular, but some locales put on a better show than others. San Jose is one of those places. 

Run amongst buildings and palm trees with a vibrant crowd feel. If you prefer cool fall temps, though, this one isn’t for you; the average race day temperature for this half marathon is 75-degrees.

October 1, 2023 | Read More | Register

Best Half Marathons for Sightseers 

These aren’t your average touristy sights. These are the races you’ll be talking about for years to come. 

Kiawah, home of one of the best half marathons in the Southeast.
Courtesy of Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Race to the Cave in Alabama

At Cathedral Caverns State Park, this half marathon course allows participants to finish in an unforgettable locale: running 1.2 miles through the dimly lit cave. The rest of the race is a mix of roads and stunning valley trails. Both in the cave and on the trails, the course includes challenging ascents and descents to keep you enthralled throughout the full 13.1 miles. 

March 14, 2023 | Register

Maine Coast Half Marathon

Run along the white sand beaches in Maine as the race takes you through the small towns of Wells and Ogunquit and through the marshes of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. The course is mostly flat with a few small hills to conquer and ends in a fast descent. 

Celebrate afterwards with two free beers, Rococo ice cream, lawn games, and music. 

May 6, 2023 | Read More | Register

Glacier Half Marathon in Montana

Glacier National Park is one of the 10 most visited national parks in the U.S. This half marathon allows participants to race along the eastern border of the park (just outside park boundaries due to permitting). 

There’s not sugarcoating it, the Glacier Half Marathon course is tough. The first five miles of the point-to-point race is a climb with an overall elevation gain of 1,235 feet at an already high altitude that starts over a mile above sea level. The mountain views, interspersed with glistening lakes and the potential to see wildlife, make this challenging road race worth it. 

June 24, 2023 | Register

Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon in Tennessee 

Running through the forests of the Great Smoky Mountains and the Tennessee countryside, this point-to-point course is one to remember. It’s on the more challenging side, as participants run on a gradual incline the entire way along Little River in conditions that are typically hot and humid. The rigorous racing is worth it for the scenery and the top notch race experience put on by Vacation Races. This race also makes our Best Half Marathons through National Parks list.

September 8, 2023 | Read More | Register

Orca Half Marathon in Washington

Orca Running puts on the best races in the Seattle area. The group is well-organized and creates a welcoming atmosphere at every event. The Orca Half Marathon, which takes place in the West Seattle neighborhood, runs along the coast of the Puget Sound, south of Elliot Bay. 

The point-to-point course is flat and mostly paved, except for a section at the start that runs through the forested trails of Lincoln Park. Runners not only get the waterfront view along the course, but the best skyline view of downtown Seattle (Space Needle, ferris wheel, and all) just across the bay. 

September 16, 2023 | Read More | Register

Jackson Hole Half Marathon in Wyoming

This mostly uphill paved point-to-point course starts in the town of Jackson, runs along the Snake River, and ends at Teton Village on the edge of Grand Teton National Park. Racers can expect some truly spectacular views of the Jackson Hole Valley. 

Stick around an extra day for a race-organized pub crawl on Sunday, cleverly dubbed ‘The Hobble.’ Race directors, volunteers, and other racers show up to mingle at local bars, refreshed after a night of race recovery. 

September 23, 2023 | Read More | Register

Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon in New Hampshire

Get your summer beach town vibes in fall at the Smuttynose Rockfest Half Marathon, a race that is not only attractive for its coastal views, but for its electric atmosphere. With only 60 feet of elevation gain, it is a flat and fast course that starts with two loops around Hampton Beach then heads north on Ocean Boulevard. 

Finish with a very New England feast of lobster rolls, clam chowder, and Smuttynose beer. 

October 1, 2023 | Read More | Register

Kiawah Island Half Marathon in North Carolina

If you simply can’t get enough of coastal races, then you’ll love the 13.1 miles run on this South Carolina beach resort property. Not only is the course beautiful, but runners are truly pampered with post-race stretch stations, a buffet, and shower facilities. It’s a true resort experience with just a bit of running. 

December 9, 2023 | Read More | Register

Palm Beaches Half Marathon in Florida

It’s December and the temperatures have dropped. It’s starting to snow. The sidewalks are freezing over. You’re questioning your life choices as you put on your running shoes. 

Unless you’re in Florida for the Palm Beaches Half Marathon in Florida where the average temperature is a low of 60 degrees and a high of 78 degrees. With the water in sight, you’ll watch the sunrise over the intracoastal and Manatee Lagoon while you traverse the straightforward and flat course. It’s like running in paradise. 

December 10, 2023 | Read More | Register

What is the best half marathon to run?

There’s no “best” half marathon for everyone. The most popular half marathons include the United Airlines Half Marathon in Brooklyn, Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas, and RBC Brooklyn Half Marathon.

Which half marathon is most famous half marathon in the US?

The Chicago Half Marathon, the United Airlines Half Marathon in Brooklyn, and the Philadelphia Half Marathon are among the US most popular.

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