The 15 Best Summer Marathons You Should Run in 2024

The cold rains of spring are gone and have been replaced by bright sunny days and warm breezy nights. And while summer means getting outside as much as possible, for the running community, it’s often the quiet season between big spring and fall marathons that suck up a lot of the race oxygen.

But June, July, and August host their fair share of marathons as well — and are a well-earned reward after toiling indoors training on a treadmill or out in the snow and freezing winds for months. Cooler locales like Alaska and Michigan to the California coast in full bloom. There are plenty of summer marathons to choose from. You could even challenge yourself with one of the blistering hot summer marathons built to test participants’ stamina, or use it as an opportunity to test your race pace for a fall marathon. 

As for which is truly the best summer marathon to target, I’ve got you covered: I’m a longtime running journalist and the author of Marathoner: What to Expect When Training for and Running a Marathon. I’ve run plenty of marathons and have researched others extensively. Combing lists of US-based summer marathons, I have selected 15 of the most exciting races every runner should try. 

The Best Summer Marathons Calendar

  • Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon on June 2, 2024
  • Hatfield McCoy Marathon on June 8, 2024
  • Grandma’s Marathon on June 22, 2024
  • Anchorage Mayor’s Midnight Marathon on June 22, 2024
  • Missoula Marathon on June 30, 2024
  • Hotter Than Hell Marathon on July 7, 2024
  • Aspen Valley Marathon on July 13, 2024
  • Akron Trail Marathon on July 14, 2024
  • San Francisco Marathon on July 21, 2024
  • Crater Lake Rim Runs Marathon on August 10, 2024
  • Humboldt Bay Marathon on August 11, 2024
  • E.T. Full Moon Midnight Marathon on August 17, 2024
  • Nebraska State Fair Marathon on August 24, 2024
  • Millennium Meadows Marathon on August 25, 2024
  • Rockaway Beach End of Summer Marathon on August 24, 2024

Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon on June 2, 2024 | San Diego, California

Nothing says summer quite like rock ‘n’ roll music by the ocean, something the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon has readily available. San Diego was the original marathon in the Rock ‘n’ Roll race series which enlivens the 26.2 miles of running with concerts before, during, and after their races. San Diego’s course brings runners near both the Mission Bay and San Diego Bay as well as through the famed Balboa Park to its downton finish. 

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Hatfield McCoy Marathon on June 8, 2024 | South Williamson, Kentucky

Are you a Hatfield or a McCoy? You’ll find out when you register for this marathon on the Kentucky/West Virginia border. The race randomly divides entrants into two clans before the race. Whichever team has the lowest combined finishing time wins bragging rights for the year. This is certainly not an easy marathon though. June in West Virginia can be hot and the course is run on rolling Appalachian hills. Feuding isn’t for the weak — and neither is this marathon. 

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Grandma’s Marathon on June 22, 2024 | Duluth, Minnesota

No, this is not a marathon for your Grandma. But it does end near a restaurant called Grandma’s next to the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth, Minnesota. Grandma’s (the race) has become increasingly popular over the last several years, especially with those attempting to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Since the cutoff for qualifying is September, those who came up short in spring marathons will often use this flat and fast course as a last chance to earn a BQ. The course, through northern Minnesota, is also scenic and stunning. 

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Anchorage Mayor’s Midnight Marathon on June 22, 2024 | Anchorage, Alaska

No better way to beat the summer heat than to hop on a flight to Alaska, and if you’re looking to run a marathon in Alaska, the only time to do it is in summer. The Mayor’s Marathon is held in honor of the summer solstice. And up there in Alaska those summer days are long. The point-to-point course starts in Kincaid Park along the water and then ventures towards the finish line in downtown Anchorage. The course does end with a hill, so you’ll want to save a little in the tank for the end. 

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Missoula Marathon on June 30, 2024 | Missoula, Montana

It’s Big Sky Country! Missoula, Montana may be a bit off the beaten path, located near the border with Idaho and with a population that barely reaches 75,000. But if you’re looking to take a summer road trip and hit a marathon in the process, this could be a great race for you. It’s been named one of the US’s most beautiful races and the local support is incredible. This is the type of small town race you want to sign up for. And with a fairly flat point-to-point course, it could also get you a new PR. 

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Hotter Than Hell Marathon on July 7, 2024 | New Orleans, Louisiana

Most summer marathons are run in northern states to beat the heat. The Hotter Than Hell Marathon, however, is all about the challenge. The average high temp in New Orleans in July is 92 degrees. Even though the race starts at midnight, you’ll still be sweating before you even finish one loop of the course. One of the hardest marathons in the U.S. in my opinion, all that sweat will go to a good cause though as the race is run to raise money and awareness for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Just make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and try to finish the course before the sun rises. 

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Aspen Valley Marathon on July 13, 2024 | Aspen, Colorado

Quick while the skiers are out of town, let’s run a marathon! Aspen is certainly most well known for its powder, but the ski resorts are pretty empty in July. But that doesn’t mean the surrounding area isn’t absolutely stunning in the lush summer weather. Despite running through the Rocky Mountains, the course is flatter than you’d think (albeit at elevation), but you’ll get plenty of views of the peaks. I’m also declaring it correct to celebrate your finish with a little apres ski moment. 

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Akron Trail Marathon on July 14, 2024 | Akron, Ohio

Ohio in July can be a little toasty, but hopefully the trees that surround the Towpath Trail will keep you shady and cool. This trail marathon outside Akron, Ohio is a fun summer option for midwesterners who don’t want to travel too far and like a challenge. Parts of the course are run on dirt trails. You’ll have to conquer plenty of rolling hills on your way to the 26.2. If, however, you want to get outside and don’t mind a little sweat, this could be an exciting summer excursion. 

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San Francisco Marathon on July 21, 2024 | San Francisco, California

For some strange scientific reason that I cannot even begin to explain (water? wind? mountains?) San Francisco has basically the same weather all year round. Again, this doesn’t seem correct to me. But it does allow them to host their marathon in the middle of July. The race not only sends runners out and back over the Golden Gate Bridge, but also gives them the opportunity to run a full lap of the city. Watch out though. The city is hilly and the Golden Gate Bridge is basically just an extra hill.  

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Crater Lake Rim Runs Marathon on August 10, 2024 | Crater Lakes National Park, Oregon

While there are plenty of marathons that are run near national parks each year, very few that are actually run in National Parks. The Crater Lake Rim Run is one of them. There are several distances to choose from, including a marathon. The course is basically just a lap around the edge of the famed lake. The views are immaculate and with only 500 spots available each year, this is an experience very few have the honor to run. The last few miles of the marathon course are on gravel though, FYI. 

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Humboldt Bay Marathon on August 11, 2024 | Eureka, CA

On the far northern segment of the California coast near the Redwoods National Park sits Eureka situated on the Humboldt Bay. You run almost the entire course on the coast of the Bay which gives you plenty of nice breezes and relaxing views as you run your 26.2. The race is an out-and-back half marathon course which means you’ll will have to run the whole thing twice. But this can be helpful for pacing purposes and you know exactly what you’re getting in the second half, meaning there are no unwelcome surprises. 

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E.T. Full Moon Midnight Marathon on August 17, 2024 | Rachel, Nevada

E.T. run home? Despite being run in the desert in August, the E.T. Full Moon Midnight Marathon is a surprisingly fun affair. The extra-terrestrial themed race is held just outside the mysterious Area 51, known for its UFO sightings and other strange phenomena. Unlike most races, you run this one at night to beat the heat. That means you can adorn yourself with glow sticks and potentially scout out some suspicious lights in the sky. You will however need to wear a headlamp and be extra careful not to trip. 

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Nebraska State Fair Marathon on August 24, 2024 | Grand Island, Nebraska

The Nebraska State Fair is held every August in Grand Island. For those 11 days, people from around the world descend on the small town for carnival rides, concerts, animal shows, fried oreos, and of course a marathon. The race starts and ends in the fairground but involves a lap of the whole town. The website bills it as “the fastest flattest course in the nation.” I’m not sure if that’s scientifically proven or not. But it is a flat and fast course perfect for beginners’ first marathon (and people who want an excuse to eat a dozen funnel cakes). 

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Millennium Meadows Marathon on August 25, 2024 | Grand Rapids, Michigan

There is truly no lovelier place in summer than Michigan by the water. The Millennium Meadows Marathon takes place in late August in Grand Rapids by the water. The breeze coming off Lake Michigan keeps Grand Rapids cooler in the summer and Millenium Meadows has plenty of beautiful views (even if you have to see them repeatedly on this loop course). You can celebrate afterwards with a trip to Culvers. 

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Rockaway Beach End of Summer Marathon on August 24, 2024 | New York, New York

Who doesn’t love running at the beach? And New Yorkers basically spend their entire summers dragging piles of beach equipment out to the Rockaways on the subway. To celebrate the close of beach season, you can do several laps of the barrier island as a part of this End of Summer Marathon. The best thing about the race is this is your one summer trip out east that doesn’t involve carting around a beach chair. Follow it up with one of our favorite New England running retreats, too.

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