The Best Raleigh Half Marathons

As the capital of North Carolina, Raleigh stands out for its academic offerings—a number of colleges, including North Carolina State University and Shaw University, the first historically Black University in the South—call the city home. Raleigh also boasts a number of free state-run museums, including the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and the North Carolina Museum of History.  But don’t get us wrong—the city also offers adventures beyond the cerebral. Shopping, nightlife, and Southern dining from comfort food to gourmet dining are abundant in Raleigh. When you’re ready to run off your hush puppies and fried green tomatoes, dive into the running scene and explore the best half marathons in and around Raleigh. 

Race 13.1 Raleigh Half Marathons
Courtesy of Capstone Races

Race 13.1 Raleigh Half Marathon,10K & 5K

Race 13.1 Raleigh Half Marathon, 10K & 5K is back and ready to help you kickoff your Global Running Day celebrations this June!

For a city race, the out-and-back course nonetheless offers a relaxing nature vibe, as runners make their way down three of the city’s paved greenway trails. For the novice half marathoner or those in search of a PR, the revamped course is flatter and faster than previous years, eliminating “Lassiter Hill,” which no longer haunts runners as they cruise to the finish line. 

June 3, 2023 in Raleigh, NC | Race info & signup

City of Oaks one of the most popular Raleigh half marathons.

City of Oaks Marathon & Half Marathon

Raleigh is nicknamed the “City of Oaks” in honor of these stately trees, which grow in abundance around this capital city. 

Like the oak tree, this longstanding event better known as Raleigh’s Hometown Race, draws an average of 5,000 participants across all events. Runners are treated to a thorough tour of the city as they take on this out-and-back looped course.

Now beginning and finishing in Raleigh’s revitalized downtown Smoky Hollow neighborhood, runners will be treated to tons of local course entertainment as they embark along the routes also passing by the North Carolina state capitol building, through historic neighborhoods, NCSU’s historic bell tower and skyline views along the Boylan bridge.

November 5, 2023 in Raleigh, NC | Race info & signup

Skinny Turkey Half Marathon & 5K

Use your Thanksgiving holiday to support two worthy causes: personal fitness and community wellbeing. 

The Skinny Turkey Half Marathon & 5K is held as a fundraiser for Just Think First, which helps local students tackle discussions on important issues like drugs and alcohol, violence, sex, gangs, and peer pressure through stories told by their peers from North Raleigh’s Wakefield High School.

As for the race itself, you’ll work up a Thanksgiving-sized appetite as you wind through gently rolling hills during this out-and-back course that takes runners through Wake Falls neighborhood and Wakefield Plantation. 

November 23, 2023 in Raleigh, NC |  Race info & signup

Harris Lake County Park

Viking Dash – Raleigh Half Marathon, 10K & 5K 

Embrace your inner (or outer—costumes are encouraged!) Viking during the Raleigh edition of this epically popular trail race series. 

The race is held at Harris Lake County Park, a 680-acre park known for its beautiful trails, 13 farm ponds, and longleaf pine forest. 

Need more motivation to check out the event? You’ll need to be as strong as a Viking to wear your new finisher’s medal. It’s a cool piece of swag featuring a metal replica of Thor’s own hammer. 

December 2, 2023 in Raleigh, NC |  Race info & signup

Raleigh (Holiday) Half Marathon

Hosted by Sir Walter Running, an organization that cleverly plays on the city’s namesake. The Raleigh Holiday Half Marathon often doubles as the USATF North Carolina State Championship event. But don’t let your speedy company deter you—the race is friendly to half marathoners at all levels. 

The course, revamped in 2020, begins at Gateway Plaza, a popular retail space in Raleigh. Before running out-and-back from Anderson Point Park via the Crabtree Creek Greenway. This is your pick for festive Raleigh half marathons.

December 3, 2022 in Raleigh, NC | Race info & signup

Tobacco Road Half Marathon & Half Marathon 

Register early to guarantee yourself a spot in this popular community event, which sees upwards of 4,000 runners each year. The race usually sells out well in advance of race day.

Flat, fast, and rural, this out-and-back race takes runners over a variety of roads and highways. As well as portions of the American Tobacco Trail. This rails-to-trails project follows the route of the former Norfolk Southern Railroad. It was first built in 1906 to transport tobacco from Duncan to Durham from the region’s farming communities. Cary is only a 20-minute drive from our other Raleigh half marathons.

March 19, 2023 in Cary, NC | Race info & signup

NCRC Classic Half Marathon & 10K 

While runners will surely enjoy the tree-lined park paths of William B. Umstead State Park that comprise most of the race course, the NCRC Classic Half Marathon & 10K is no walk in the park! Expect to encounter moderately challenging hills throughout the race to give your out-and-back run some kick.

This race is a longstanding Cary tradition and has been run to benefit a number of community charities and organizations, including the American Red Cross and the Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities. 

May 21, 2023 in Cary, NC | Race info & signup

Cary Parkway Challenge

Unlike your typical running event, the Cary Parkway Challenge is not timed, officially sanctioned, or even an exact half marathon distance. However, the challenge is an affordable and enjoyable endurance event, with course support, participant encouragement, and finish line treats.

Runners will tackle the length of the Northwest Cary Parkway, which serves as Cary’s outer ring highway. Featuring an updated course route for the 2023 event, participants will begin at Veterans Freedom Park on Harrison Avenue and run Cary Parkway to Holly Springs Road before crossing the finish line at Pinnacle Nutrition in the Swift Creek Shopping Center, where the afterparty will also be hosted.

As this event is pretty casual, runners are allowed to take on the full course themselves. Or runners can break up the distance as part of a relay team, at their discretion. 

April 1, 2023 in Cary, NC | Race info & signup

Cary Greenways Tour Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Presented as a partnership between the Town of Cary and Fit & Able Productions, the Cary Greenways Tour benefits Cary’s Play It Forward Program, which supports the Town of Cary’s Parks & Recreation Scholarship Program for Youth Sports.

The race celebrates both a healthy community and Cary’s abundant outdoor recreation opportunities. The city boasts more than 30 parks and over 90 miles of greenways, among other amenities.

The in-person race’s out-and-back course is run on the Town of Cary’s paved and natural greenways, with a start and finish at the Kiwanis Shelter. However, if you can’t attend on race day but would like to support a worthy cause. A virtual option is available, to be run between September 30 – October 7, 2023.

October 7, 2023 in Cary, NC | Race info & signup

Race 13.1 Durham Half Marathon, 10K & 5K 

Want a winter race without enduring cold weather? Race 13.1 Durham gives you a holiday race without worrying about turning into a snowman yourself. 

Expect jingle bells, Santa hats, and festive music as you take on this flat and scenic out-and-back course, run along the American Tobacco Trail. 

If you’re making this race part of a longer runcation, Durham boasts a number of area attractions, including Duke University, Duke Gardens, the Durham Bulls baseball team, and the Durham Performing Arts Center. This race has the same event director as the Race 31.1 Raleigh Half Marathon, the top Raleigh half marathons on this list.

December 2, 2023 in Durham, NC | Race info & signup

Bull City Race Fest Half Marathon & 5 Miler 

Durham, nicknamed Bull City in the late 1800s after the Blackwell Tobacco Company’s “Bull” Durham Tobacco, serves as the site of this annual half marathon and five miler event.

The out-and-back race departs from the American Tobacco Campus in downtown Durham. It’s a historic district of 14 buildings revamped from the company’s former tobacco factory complex. 

From there, half marathoners will weave north and west through Durham’s Trinity Park neighborhood, Duke University’s campus. Then through the Duke Forest and Forest Hills neighborhoods before returning to the finish at the American Tobacco Campus.

October 15, 2023 in Durham, NC |  Race info & signup

The Streets at Southpoint

RDC Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Run yourself silly and reward yourself with a shopping spree afterwards!

The RDC Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K & 5K is a USATF-certified Boston Qualifier event that takes runners along the iconic American Tobacco Trail to The Streets at Southpoint. The Streets is a popular shopping mall in Durham.

Along the route, runners will enjoy the diversity of all the Durham area has to offer. Including city streets, peaceful forest paths, and wide open farmland. 

Need even more of a challenge? Throughout the race weekend, combine events to take on the 35.5 Challenge (marathon + 10K + 5K), 22.4 Challenge (half marathon + 10K + 5K), or 15K challenge (10K + 5K).

October 30, 2022 | Durham, NC | Race info & signup

Complete Upcoming 2023 Raleigh Half Marathon Calendar

  1. Tobacco Road Marathon | March 19, 2023
  2. Cary Greenways Half Marathon | March 26, 2023
  3. Cary Parkway Challenge | April 1, 2023
  4. Wake Forest Historic Half | April 15, 2023
  5. NCRC Classic Half Marathon | May 21, 2023
  6. Race 13.1 Raleigh | June 3, 2023
  7. Cary Greenways Tour | October 7, 2023
  8. Bull City Race Fest | October 15, 2023
  9. Rootrock Trail Run | October 21, 2023
  10. RDC Marathon | October 30, 2023
  11. City of Oaks Marathon | November 5, 2023
  12. Skinny Turkey Half Marathon | November 23, 2023
  13. Race 13.1 Durham | December 2, 2023
  14. Viking Dash Trail Run – Raleigh | December 2, 2023
  15. Raleigh Holiday Half Marathon | December 3, 2023

When is the Raleigh half marathon?

The most popular Raleigh half marathon is the City of Oaks Half Marathon on November 5, 2023.

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