17 of the Best Winter Marathons To Avoid Running Hibernation

In case you couldn’t tell from the dropping temperatures, sudden lack of daylight, and Christmas decorations popping up everywhere, winter is upon us! From small-town races to major running events, we’ve found the best winter marathons around America to help you fill your race calendar this season. 

For runners, this poses a unique challenge. After working so hard all year to build endurance, become faster, and maintain a consistent running schedule, everything slows down in the winter. Whether it’s the cold weather, dark mornings and evenings, wavering motivation, or all of these things combined, we know how difficult it can be to keep up your running performance in the winter months. 

However, having a race on your calendar is a clever way to keep yourself inspired to keep up your running fitness throughout the winter – even if that means you might train for a marathon indoors on your treadmill.

Plus, running one of the best winter marathons is the perfect excuse to escape the cold, run in a warm location, and maybe even turn a race weekend into a running vacation

To prepare, get your warmest running gear out, and your training plan ready because you definitely won’t want to miss these best winter marathons!

The Best Winter Marathons Calendar

The Our Picks for The Best Winter Marathons Calendar

The Sacramento City Hall home of the best winter marathon California International Marathon.

California International Marathon

  • Where: Sacramento, CA
  • When: December 3, 2024
  • Best For: If you’re hoping to PR before the end of the year

If you want flat and fast, this is it! Last year, nearly a third of the California International Marathon finishers ran Boston-qualifying times, which is why this course is known as the fastest in the West. Though it’s not quite as flat as the Chicago Marathon, this net downhill course is still a top option for those looking to hit a personal record. 

Thanks to its fast course, mild Northern California weather, and well-organized race production, the California International Marathon earns high marks in almost every category. Plus, ending the race at the California State Capitol Building is a nice finishing touch to an awesome race.

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Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon

  • Where: San Antonio, TX
  • When: December 3, 2024
  • Best For: If you’re looking for a high-energy fun run

An excellent choice for first-timers, the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon fosters a welcoming race environment. Between the upbeat music, unique entertainment throughout the race, and spirited crowds, this race is one of the most enjoyable winter races around. 

As its course winds through some of San Antonio’s most vibrant neighborhoods, runners will get the opportunity to see the city’s most iconic landmarks, including the Alamo. And the best part of all? It’s a very flat course!

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West Palm Beach with palm trees lining a street and a car.

Garden of Life Palm Beaches Marathon

  • Where: West Palm Beach, FL
  • When: December 10, 2024
  • Best For: If you enjoy running on flat roads with ocean views

Claiming to be 100% flat and 100% beautiful, the Palm Beaches Marathon is Florida’s best winter marathons. Ranked as the second fastest marathon course in the state, this USATF-certified course is another great pick for runners aspiring to qualify for Boston. 

This stunning course takes place on streets lined with palm trees, through historic districts, and in oceanfront parks. With gorgeous beach views and average temperatures in the 70°s, this tropical race is a nice switch-up from most runners’ winter treks.

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The coastline of Honolulu home to best winter marathon Honolulu Marathon.

Honolulu Marathon

  • Where: Honolulu, HI
  • When: December 10, 2024
  • Best For: If a tropical runcation is on your Christmas list

As the fourth largest marathon in the United States, the Honolulu Marathon draws 20,000 annual participants from all over the world. Since the event has no cutoff time, first-time marathoners, slow runners, and walkers are all welcome to sign up for this race.

The course starts near the popular Ala Moana Boulevard and takes runners through the downtown area and Waikiki before heading around Diamond Head Crater and along breathtaking stretches of coastline. While this scenic run passes many iconic sights, we recommend that you stay a week or two and turn this destination race into a Christmas vacation in paradise.

Want to travel without the pressure of a race? Consider going Rogue.

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Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon

  • Where: Biloxi, MS
  • When: December 10, 2024
  • Best For: If you’re searching for a no-frills, small-town race

For the runners that prefer small, quiet races over large, crowded ones, this could be the best winter marathons for you! The Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon provides a peaceful tour of the area’s stunning coastline and historic homes. Aside from a tough uphill climb from miles 24 to 26, the majority of this course is super flat and fast.

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Buckeye Marathon

  • Where: Buckeye, AZ
  • When: January 6, 2024
  • Best For: If You Want to Start the New Year With a Bang

Thanks to its gentle downhill course with a 530-foot drop in elevation from start to finish, the Buckeye Marathon is a great place to crush your New Year’s resolution and hit a new PR six days into the year! 

Although the course is almost entirely flat, past runners have warned about desert hypnosis, which is the feeling that you’re running uphill when you aren’t. Others mentioned that the heat and dryness snuck up on them as the sun rose, so it’s essential to keep hydrated during this race. Despite those challenges, this is a great winter race to start 2024 with! 

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The site of the Walt Disney World Marathon in Orlando, Florida.

Walt Disney World Marathon

  • Where: Orlando, FL
  • When: January 7, 2024
  • Best For: If You Need an Excuse to Visit the Happiest Place on Earth

At the Walt Disney World Marathon, every mile is magical. As you cruise through the four Disney parks, you’ll be constantly entertained by runners’ elaborate costumes, photo ops with Disney characters, lively crowd support, and delicious drink stops. 

While this isn’t the best race for a PR, it’s an excellent choice for a fun and exciting running experience. And since there are kids races, a 5k, 10k, and half marathon, this race weekend is the perfect running vacation for the whole family!

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Related: The Best 10Ks in the US

Carlsbad Marathon

  • Where: Carlsbad, CA
  • When: January 14, 2024
  • Best For: If You Run for the Swag

Not only is the Carlsbad Marathon an extremely beautiful race, but it also offers unbeatable swag. On top of earning a classic medal and t-shirt, participants also receive a high-quality quarter-zip pullover, a tote bag, and other fun goodies. You definitely get your entry fee’s worth from this race!

The course consists of a beautiful out-and-back coastal run. While there are challenging rolling hills throughout the race, the incredible ocean vistas make it worth the climb. As the race takes place in a community full of friendly runners, you’ll experience support and positivity every step of the way. 

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The Houston, Texas skyline with people picnicking and riding bikes and a park.

Houston Marathon

  • Where: Houston, TX
  • When: January 14, 2024
  • Best For: If You Think Bigger is Better

The Houston Marathon is the flagship event of the Chevron Houston Marathon Race Day, which also includes a half marathon, 5k, and the Houston Marathon Health & Fitness Expo. With more than 250,000 participants annually, this event has become the largest single-day sporting event in Houston. 

The Houston Marathon takes runners all over downtown Houston during its point-to-point course. With just two notable hills around mile 5 and mile 25, this race is relatively flat and fast. On top of the wonderful course, this race comes highly recommended by many past runners for its epic crowd support, organized production, and comfortable running weather.

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Louisiana Marathon

  • Where: Baton Rouge, LA
  • When: January 14, 2024
  • Best For: If You Enjoy a Festive Race Atmosphere

A celebration of both running and Louisiana’s vibrant culture, this multi-race event is a Southern favorite. Starting from the Louisiana State Capitol Building, marathon runners embark on an all-encompassing tour of downtown Baton Rouge, the University Lakes, and the Louisiana State University campus. While the course is flat and scenic, the most remarkable part of the Louisiana Marathon is the electric crowd support and party-like atmosphere from start to finish.

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Red Rock Canyon in Nevada with a single road at sunset.

Red Rock Canyon Marathon

  • Where: Las Vegas, NV
  • When: January 20, 2024
  • Best For: If You’re Ready to be Challenged by Uphill Climbs

One of the toughest marathons on our list, the Red Rock Canyon Marathon takes place outside of the Las Vegas Strip in the Mojave Desert. The incredible desert view won’t be the only thing that takes your breath away as you consistently rotate between climbing steep hills and descending back down. Despite being a true challenge, the scenery and incredible planning from the organizers at Calico Racing make this marathon worth the effort. 

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Miami Marathon

  • Where: Las Vegas, NV
  • When: January 28, 2024
  • Best For: If You Think You Can Handle the Heat

As a qualifying race for the Abbott World Marathon Majors World Age Group Championship for the fourth year in a row, the Miami Marathon attracts some impressive athletes from around the world. While the hot competition and hot winter weather are praiseworthy, the main reason runners return to the Miami Marathon year after year is for its scenic course. 

“The Miami Marathon & Half Marathon takes you through the streets of Miami starting in front of the Miami Heat arena, to scenic Miami Beach, through the Wynwood art district, and back to mainland Miami for a grand finish in the lovely downtown bay area,” race director Samantha Bailey shares. “Every year, we pay tribute to the star of the show — the course… Mile after mile, the beautiful views help propel runners to the finish line.” 

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Mesa Marathon

  • Where: Mesa, AZ
  • When: February 10, 2024
  • Best For: If You Want a Desert Run With Descents

Previously known as the Mesa Phoenix Marathon, this race is all about the downhills. With nearly 1,000 feet of net elevation loss, the first half of the race features a fast descent while the second half has more of a gradual downhill slope. This downhill course takes runners from the hills of Usery Mountain Regional Park along desert roads into the city of Mesa. An ideal place to set a PR, the Mesa Marathon is Arizona’s premier race and one of our favorite and best winter marathons.

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Austin Marathon 

  • Where: Austin, TX
  • When: February 18, 2024
  • Best For: If You’re Ready to Conquer Some Hills

Austin is a scenic and lively city, so it makes sense that the Austin Marathon is scenic and lively as well. However, what many runners don’t know when signing up for Austin is just how hilly the course is. With several hills in the first half of the race and a challenging climb near the finish line, the difficulty of the Austin Marathon comes as a shock to some racers. Luckily, there’s rarely a mile without beautiful views during this race. Plus, after conquering all of Austin’s hills, you’ll be that much more prepared for Heartbreak Hill at the Boston Marathon.

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The Atlanta park home to the Publix Atlanta Marathon one of the best winter marathons.

Publix Atlanta Marathon

  • Where: Atlanta, GA
  • When: February 26, 2024
  • Best For: If You Want to Race in Running City USA

After running the Publix Atlanta Marathon, you’ll understand why Atlanta has become America’s Running City. Hosted by the Atlanta Track Club, this well-organized event draws nearly 16,000 participants for its challenging yet scenic course. 

The Atlanta Marathon’s loop course is an exciting tour of the city that starts and ends at Centennial Olympic Park. The hilly route takes runners through downtown Atlanta, to the historic Sweet Auburn district, and then around several charming neighborhoods. The highlight of the race is towards the end when runners enjoy a downhill stretch in Piedmont Park, a beautiful urban park. Before heading to the finish line, runners pass through the Georgia Institute of Technology’s campus, by the Coca-Cola headquarters, and near CNN’s Atlanta headquarters. While the hilly terrain is demanding, the captivating sights along this route are a great distraction from the climbs. 

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Napa Valley Marathon 

  • Where: Napa, CA
  • When: March 3, 2024
  • Best For: If Your Post-Race Drink of Choice is Wine

Appearing on both our lists of the best half marathons in the world and the best winter half marathons, the Napa Valley Marathon is clearly one of our favorite races. Between the bucket list course, cool race swag, and high-quality race production, it’s hard to find a reason not to love this full marathon. 

While running along the Silverado Trail from Calistoga to Napa, runners can expect to pass picturesque vineyards and world-class wineries. Throughout the course, the gently rolling hills keep things interesting without being too challenging. While we think the beautiful scenery is inspiring enough, the opportunity to visit wineries after the race is also a good motivator!

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Los Angeles Marathon

  • Where: Los Angeles, CA
  • When: March 17, 2024
  • Best For: If You Want to End the Winter Season With a Major Race

Los Angeles, California- March 17, 2024

After successfully hosting the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, the city was inspired to host its own marathon. Two years later, the inaugural Los Angeles Marathon took place. Since 1986, the LA Marathon has become one of the largest marathons in the country.

Featuring a new course as of 2021, this marathon winds through some of LA’s most vibrant neighborhoods, starting at Dodger Stadium and finishing in Century City. With iconic landmarks along the way and tons of encouraging crowds, each mile is full of excitement. And since the upcoming race takes place on St. Patrick’s Day, the 2024 LA Marathon will be an especially lively event! There’s no better way to close out the best winter marathons running season. 

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If you’re looking to sign up for a winter half marathon instead, check out our top picks here

For additional winter running advice, read these 8 essential tips.

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