San Diego, California, may be known as America’s Finest City, but we’d argue it should also be known as America’s Finest Running Destination. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back half marathon traversing among San Diego’s 70 miles of beachfront or a challenging mountainside quad-burner, you’ll enjoy the city’s mild weather, coastal charm, and plenty of delicious restaurants to celebrate after your athletic accomplishments. Here, we round up the best San Diego half marathons both Californians and Southern California-lovers can run.

San Diego temperatures have an average high of 70 degrees and an average low of 50 degrees, so expect that you can run a half marathon there and train year-round.

The Kaiser Permanente Thrive Half Marathon course

Kaiser Permanente Thrive Half Marathon & 5K

San Diego is home to some of the most scenic ocean and waterfront views on the west coast. The Kaiser Permanente Thrive Half Marathon & 5K takes advantage of this by touring runners through Mission Bay as part of its notably flat and fast half marathon course – great for beginners! 

Perfect for both first-time half marathoners and experienced runners chasing a PR, this great race offers a big city half marathon with a seaside vibe. Runners will start and end at Ski Beach in Vacation Isle, weaving around the waterfront of Mission Bay, passing by SeaWorld, and circling back along Sail Bay’s bike path. 

Best of all? You’ll also be running for a cause, as proceeds from the event support Make-a-Wish San Diego. You can preview the course map here.

November 4, 2023 | Race info & signup

Rock 'n' Roll San Diego - One of the most popular San Diego half marathons.

San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon & Half Marathon

If you need some hype to push you to your fullest running potential, Rock ‘n’ Roll races are right up your alley. The San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon first added a half marathon distance in 2010, and the rest has been history. 

Cheering crowds, live music, and more excitement await for participants, who start their race near Balboa Park—home to both the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Natural History Museum—before winding through well-known neighborhoods toward the finish line in downtown San Diego. This is one of the most popular San Diego half marathons by registration count.

June 4, 2023 | Race info & signup

San Diego Beach & Bay is one of the most scenic San Diego half marathons.

San Diego Beach & Bay Half Marathon 5K & 10K

The spring weather in San Diego is perfect for racing, with temperatures that tend to sit in the mid-60s, making this seaside half marathon especially pleasant.

Running the San Diego Beach & Bay Half Marathon is a great opportunity to plan the rest of your vacation. Throughout the course, which blends paved roads and waterfront park trails, you’ll tour past many of the city’s top destinations, including Tecolote Shores beach, SeaWorld San Diego, and the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster at Belmont Park. 

April 23, 2023 | Race info & signup

San Diego Half Marathon & 5K has some of the best San Diego half marathons crowds

San Diego Half Marathon & 5K

This race is for baseball fans, too! The course for the San Diego Half Marathon & 5K begins and ends near Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres.

Departing from the heart of downtown San Diego, runners will proceed northwest to Harbor Island, looping the island and taking in the sights of the U.S. Navy ships docked in the harbor. The course then crosses through Liberty Station, a popular mixed-use district featuring restaurants, theaters, and shopping along with residential areas

Not feeling quite up to a half marathon? Grab a friend and conquer the course as part of a two-person relay team. 

March 26, 2023 | Race info & signup

One of the more scenic San Diego half marathons.

America’s Finest City Half Marathon & 5K

This popular tour through America’s Finest City also offers a tour through American history. 

The race begins at Cabrillo National Monument, which commemorates the shoreline landing of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European to set foot on what eventually became the United States’ West Coast.

The course also carries runners through Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, which is built upon the former site of one of the nation’s oldest military outposts, and the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, which last shone its beacon in 1891.

Don’t get us wrong, though—this historic run is far from fussy. Participants will enjoy cheerleaders, belly dancers, and the occasional celebrity sighting (think: Oprah Winfrey) as they cruise through their race. 

August 20, 2023 | Race info & signup

T9 Mermaid Half Marathon – San Diego

Ariel wannabes are welcome at the T9 Mermaid Half Marathon – San Diego, which takes its place as part of a five-race series celebrating these magical aquatic creatures.

You may well be ready to trade your feet in for fins by the end of the course, which proceeds around Mission Bay to Fiesta Island, a recreational destination filled with parks, beaches, and the whimsically named Enchanted Cove. From there, runners will soak in a variety of seaside sights, including Playa Pacifica Park, Mission Bay Park, and De Anza Cove Park. 

While you may not be guaranteed a mermaid sighting along the way, you will earn some mermaid-themed swag at the finish line. 

February 25, 2023 | Race info & signup

Liberty Station Marathon Relay & 5k

Built over the grounds of a former naval training center, Liberty Station is now a San Diego destination filled with eateries, shops, museums, and waterfront bike paths. 

Military members, both active and veteran, are still celebrated as part of the race, with both special pricing and teams available. The race also benefits the Chelsea King Invitational Mile, an event held for elementary-aged children in San Diego County.

Half marathon teams should expect to complete 5 laps of 2.62 miles through Liberty Station Park. A variety of team sizes and skill levels are available, making this race accessible (and competitive!) for runners of all types. 

May 13, 2023 | Race info & signup

San Diego Resolution Run

What better way to tackle your new year’s health and wellness goals than by accomplishing a January half marathon? 

The San Diego Resolution Run is a tribute to both fun and fitness. Runners will enjoy mild weather and oceanic views as they wind around Mission Bay. With a total elevation gain of 235 feet for the entire half marathon course, this half marathon is flat, fast, and first-timer friendly.

January 13, 2024 | Race info & signup

Black Mountain 50K 25K & Half Marathon

This half marathon is not for the faint of heart. During the Black Mountain Half Marathon, runners will climb nearly 2,000 feet over the course of the race, which starts and finishes at Hilltop Community Park. 

All runners begin by climbing Little Black Loop trail and taking on the single-track trails offered in Black Mountain Open Space. The half marathon then splits off to descend Miners Loop trail and Ahwee trail before climbing single track and jeep trails to the 1,554-foot summit. This race is technical and challenging, but well-stocked aid stations and volunteers help motivate you to the finish. 

Feeling speedy AND invincible? Cash prizes of $1,500 are available for those who can run a sub-4 hour 50K, with an additional $500 offered for breaking the current 50K course record of 3:50:34.

June 17, 2023 | Race info & signup

Sycamore Canyon Trail Race

If you like your half marathons quiet and scenic, the Sycamore Canyon Trail Race is what you’re looking for.

Boasting a half marathon, 50K, 100K, and relay options for the two longer distances, this race is run as loops through the 2,272-acre Sycamore Canyon Preserve.

Half marathoners will complete two approximately 6.6-mile clockwise loops. The course’s semiarid wildlands lined with coastal sage scrub are scenic and serene, but organizers warn runners to stay alert—course hazards may include “mountain lions, rough terrain, rattle snakes, sharp cliffs, and drop offs.” 

February 25, 2023 | Race info & signup

The Peak 50K, Marathon & Half Marathon

A single-track race with spectacular views, The Peak 50K, Marathon & Half Marathon climbs 6,512-foot Cuyamaca Peak, the second highest in San Diego County.

If you’re feeling adventurous, the 50K offers a total elevation gain and loss of 10,000 feet, but the shorter distances are no joke, either. For the half marathon, runners will climb the Conejos Trail—a gain of 2,200 feet—to the peak before a “quad-pounding” descent to the finish line. 

July 15, 2023 | Race info & signup

2023 San Diego Half Marathon Calendar

San Diego Resolution Run | January 13, 2023

San Diego 50 and Trail Marathon | January 28, 2023

T9 Mermaid Half Marathon – San Diego | February 25, 2023

Sycamore Canyon Trail Race | February 25, 2023

San Diego Half Marathon | March 26, 2023

San Diego Beach & Bay Half Marathon, 10K & 5K | April 23, 2023

Liberty Station Half Marathon, Relay & 5K | May 13, 2023

La Jolla Half Marathon | May 20, 2023

Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego | June 4, 2023

Black Mountain 50K, 25K & Half Marathon | June 17, 2023

The Peak 50K, Marathon & Half Marathon | July 15, 2023

America’s Finest City Half Marathon & 5K | August 20, 2023

Pacific Beach Half Marathon & 5K | October 7, 2023

Kaiser Permanente Thrive Half Marathon & 5K | November 4, 2023

Silver Strand Half Marathon | November 12, 2023

San Diego Holiday Half Marathon | December 16, 2023

What are the most popular San Diego half marathons?

The Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego and San Diego Half Marathon are the most popular half marathons in San Diego.

If you’re ready to choose your first full marathon, then you are about to embark on an awesome adventure. Imagine yourself at the start line. After months of work and sacrifice, loads of miles on your legs, you will run your first 26.2! We compiled this list of the 10 best marathons for beginners, we chose races that would be fun and memorable.

There are myriad of races to choose from all with their own identities and features. As of 2023, there are more than 1,000 U.S. marathons. Picking the best marathon for a beginner is exciting, but it can also be completely overwhelming. To give yourself the best opportunity to enjoy the race, think about your likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses. We’ll try to guide you toward a race that will suit your running style and goals.  

We polled runners and coaches, read reviews, and tried to find races with awesome courses and good vibes. Many of the best marathons for beginners are celebrations. From music to spectator support, to afterparties, they’ll make you feel like all the work was worth it.

How should a beginner choose a first marathon

Of course, the best first marathon is going to vary among different runners. For example, if you can’t stand big cities, have a fear of bridges, and gag at the smell of hot dog water, then cross the TCS New York City Marathon off your list. If you’re worried about running in the mountains, best to avoid places like Colorado and Arizona. On the other hand, some runners will thrive in that environment and might need the crowds to push them through their first 26.2. Here’s an inventory to go through to choose the best marathons for beginners based on what’s best for you. If you’re looking for lists of the best half marathons, you can discover those here.

When is the marathon?

For many runners, choosing the right season to run in is the most important factor in picking a goal race. When thinking about running a fall race, consider that you’ll be training during the summer months. Alternately, if you choose a spring race, the bulk of your in-season will be during winter. For those who live in places with four seasons–or those in temperate climates with extremely hot summers, you want to choose wisely to set yourself up for success. 

In addition to factoring in temperatures during your race and training months, you have to look at your personal calendar and decide when you can devote the time to prepare and then race. In terms of race weekend, think about if you want to take a few days off work before and after the big day (this might contribute to your decision about how far to travel away from home.)

How big is the marathon?

Some marathons, like the World Majors, are huge – thousands of runners and even more spectators. There are advantages to this kind of race. The energy is spectacular, the crowds give you strength, and you’re often running (far behind) elite runners. What other sport allows participants to compete (kind of) alongside Olympians?

There are some other benefits too. Many of the bigger races boast courses designed to be speedy, so you’ll encounter flatter routes and fewer turns. If you plan to use a pace group, the big races have experienced pacers and a big group to latch onto. 

The downsides to these behemoth races? Clearly, they are not for people who dread crowds. The logistics can be tiring. Finding your race packet, navigating the race expo, going through security, getting locked into your corral – this can add time on your feet in the hours before the race. Luckily there are incredible smaller races all over the country. Many of these will still be well organized and provide the same luxuries as their larger cousins and more, like ample porta-potties, plenty of room on the road, and open water stations.

Where is the marathon? 

Many runners travel to make the whole ordeal a race-cation. Other runners choose a nearby race to avoid the stress of travel before the big day. When thinking location, the climate and altitude should factor into your decision.  

What is the course like? 

Now is the time to dial in and know your body. Decide if you want a flat course or a race with some elevation gains. Next, think about whether you want a cityscape or country roads.

Are you hoping to run a good first marathon time? Then a net downhill course will give you an advantage, as will a mostly straight race. On the other side of the coin, you might need a race with a generous time cutoff to give you the time and space you need to finish. Many of the best marathons for beginners allow runners to complete the race so long as they maintain a 16-minute per mile pace.

What makes them the best marathons for beginners?

You’ll never forget your first! Here are some other things that matter for newbies. First, you’ll need a marathon you don’t have to qualify for. Next, you need one that will keep you motivated to train. The best marathons for beginners usually have a combination of a good atmosphere, excellent organization, and an interesting course.   

Atmosphere

First-time marathoners need support. They need a community feel at the start, spectators and volunteers encouraging them on through the miles, and a party at the end no matter what time they wind up at the finish line. 

Course

For most, the best marathons for beginners will be the easiest marathon course, meaning flat. Hills can be unforgiving, especially after mile 13, so looking for a course with minimal elevation or even a slight descent is optimal.

In addition to conquering an incredible feat, your first marathon will give you the opportunity to experience the world by foot for 26.2 miles, so choose a place you want to see or that is meaningful to you. The best marathons for beginners will offer excitement on the course, either through a cool natural setting, monuments, crowds, landmarks, music, or all of the above.  Finally, if you’re brining your entourage to cheer you on, pick a race that emphasizes crowd support and is marked “spectator friendly.”

Organization

The easiest marathons are always the most well-organized. When you are navigating the start corral for your first race, you don’t want to waste energy figuring out where to go. Same goes for when you’re picking up your bag at coat check. You probably won’t notice the small details that make a race a well-oiled machine – an efficient start, volunteers, water and fuel stops – until you experience a train wreck of a race that takes off late and runs out of water. So read race reviews, listen to other runners, check in with the local running store ahead of signing up. If things have gone smoothly in year’s past, it’s safe to assume you’ll be good to go.    

How much time is needed to train for your first marathon?

The time it takes to train for you first marathon depends on how much you are currently running. Someone who has run half marathon under their belt, trains at least 20 miles per week, and has maintained a solid running program for more than six months can jump into a 16-week marathon training plan. There are also 12-week plans which will work for runners who are covering 25 miles or more per week.

Runners who are training less than that or who are coming back from injury or a period of time off should allot about three months to build a base and then jump into a 12-week training plan. If you have never run a mile before in your life, you should choose a marathon at least a year away. This will allow you to build up slowly without putting your body at risk of injury or illness. Half Marathon Guide have running plans and recommend apps like Strava to support during training.

The 10 Best Marathons for Beginners 

Grandma's Marathon in Duluth because of its crowds and course make it one of the best marathons for beginners.

Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN

Grandma’s Marathon offers first-time marathoners the best of both worlds – a small town vibe with big race energy. With more than 20,000 runners lining up beside you, the starting corral is electric. Then, you’ll run a picturesque course next to Lake Superior before busting into downtown Duluth. There, large crowds will get you through those last miles. The city truly rolls out the red carpet for local and visiting runners alike. With the celebration it offers, you can’t ask for a better way to start your marathon career.   

June 17, 2023 | Read More | Register

The Missoula Marathon is a simple point-to-point course which makes it one of the best marathons for beginners.

Missoula Marathon in Missoula, MT

There’s a reason why the Missoula Marathon has won accolades from Bibrave, Runner’s World, and individual runners. The mostly flat, point-to-point course is perfect for first timers, especially those chasing speedier times. It’s also stunning. The notorious halfway hill is a fun challenge with great views before it drops you into the next 13.1 miles. You’ll run through Montana’s countryside, against a backdrop of mountains, then speed into historic Missoula for the finish.

June 25, 2023 | Register

Maine Marathon makes one of the best marathons for beginners in New England.

Maine Marathon in Portland, ME

The Maine Marathon is perfect for a first-time marathoner looking for a bit of a challenge. As one runner noted: “If you run well at Maine, you know you’ve earned it.” There are hills, which makes it a good option for runners whose legs can’t stand the repetitive motion of a pancake flat course. The course runs along the coast of beautiful Casco Bay. The foliage, kind volunteers, ideal running temperatures, and salt air all collide to make the Maine Marathon a magical experience.

October 1, 2023 | Register

The Chicago Marathon is one of the best marathons for beginners who want to try one of the Abbott World Majors.

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon in Chicago, IL

When people think of a beginner friendly major marathon, they think of Chicago. It’s flat, fun, fast – and considered one of the easiest marathons in the U.S. If you’re looking for a big race with a party atmosphere, the 40,000 other runners and hundreds of thousands of spectators lining the streets will deliver. The weather’s been traditionally awesome for running with Chicago’s average temperatures in early October ranging from the low 40s to 60s. Runners love the flatness of the course along with the looped route. You’ll start and end along beautiful Lake Michigan and see many Chicago neighborhoods and landmarks in between.

October 8, 2023 | Register

Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.

Marine Corps Marathon should be at the top of the list for any beginning marathoner. You start in Arlington, VA, then cross into the nation’s capital, running past the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Memorial, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and the Tidal Basin, the Martin Luther King Junior Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Capitol Building, and the National Mall. The course is rolling with a few challenging but not-gut-busting hills. The Marines bill this as the people’s marathon, and they truly take care of their runners from start to finish.  

October 29, 2023 | Register

Philadelphia Marathon in Philadelphia, PA

Beginning marathoners will feel the love in Philadelphia. A great running city, Philly embraces the 30,000 runners that descend upon the city to race every November. It’s a late-season race, which lessens the chance of a random 80-degree fall day and allows for a lengthy training schedule. First-timers concerned with time limits will appreciate the seven-hour cutoff. In addition, the course is flat and beautiful. You’ll catch views of Fairmount Park and run along the Schuylkill River. The race ends at the famous Rocky steps. It doesn’t get much more epic.

November 19, 2023 | Register

California International Marathon in Sacramento, CA

For advanced first timers who are hunting for a Boston-qualifying time or newbies who just want an easy course, CIM is a wonderful option. It’s flat, point-to-point, doesn’t have many turns, and descends about 330 feet from start to finish. You’ll get to race behind a solid elite field but without the hassle of a World Major. The weather usually stays in the 40s to low 50s with a lot of cloud cover – ideal running conditions.

December 3, 2023 | Register

Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, AL

A true hidden gem, the Rocket City Marathon is about to take off in popularity. Huntsville’s charm and economy have attracted people from all over to move to the southern city, and the boom is evident in its diverse and welcoming running community. First-timers will feel the warmth of Southern hospitality through ample crowd support. The course takes you past historic neighborhoods, the US Space and Rocket Center (Space Camp), and an attraction known as Eggbeater Jesus. December in Huntsville offers cool – but not frosty – temperatures. Finally, if you’re already thinking about your post-race meal, you cannot beat the food scene in Huntsville.   

December 10, 2024 | Register

Walt Disney World Marathon in Orlando, Florida

Calling all Disney lovers! If you want to dress up and run alongside your favorite characters, then the Walt Disney World Marathon needs to be on your bucket list. And why not make it your first one? You will get to experience the magic of what diehard fans call “Disney Utopia” by getting to see the park at sunrise, running with a pack of other people on pixie dust highs, and seven hours to complete your 26.2-mile journey. Plus, it’s an excuse to go to the parks.

January 7, 2024 | Register

Surf City in Huntington Beach, CA

 The L.A. Marathon gets all the love, but just south in Huntington Beach, there’s an award-winning course that begins on the Pacific Coast Highway and passes by the Huntington Beach pier. For runners needing a small-race feel with easy parking, low stress, and minimal logistical challenges, Surf City is perfect. The race gives you oceanfront views, perfect for any beach lover looking for a gorgeous and flat first marathon.  

Feb. 4, 2024 | Register

Plan for the best, prepare for the worst. When people talk about “running safety,” they’re often talking about a better stretch before a track workout or making sure you have properly fitting shoes. However, we want to talk about “runner safety” and the best products to keep you on your feet. Running is a unique activity because the better you become, the further you may end up from your initial destination – which isn’t the case when you’re stuck in the gym on the same stationary machines. While running can take you places you’ve never been before (which sounds romantic), it can also find you lost or feeling unsafe on an unknown trail or neighborhood. In service to safety, we’ve done some research on the best runner safety gear. These are particularly worth your investment as  you get closer to your half marathons and full marathon goals, when your training takes you further and further away from home.

For Peace of Mind: ROAD iD

For Visibility: BioLite Headlamp 330

For More Visibility: The Amphipod Xinglet

For Scrapes, Cuts & Bruises: First Aid Kit

For Hydration: CamelBak CamelBak Ultra Pro W 6L Hydration Vest

For Running Alone: She’s Birdie

For Peace of Mind: ROAD iD

ROADiD, first and foremost, is the highest-rated safety band when it comes to comfort, fit, and design. 

ROADiD is an investment in your peace of mind. The band lists all of your important medical information – from your name to past medical conditions, medications, allergies and emergency contacts – and is worn on the wrist where a medical first responder is most likely to check. This band should be a mandatory safety precaution, especially for those who run without smartwatches, phones, or wallets. But, even if you run with those IDs, consider that phones break, wallets get lost, and smartwatches run out of battery. 

We love the ROADiD because it not only saves lives, but it also encourages and fuels adventure and provides peace of mind for you and your loved ones at home. The best-selling bands are the Stretch, the Sidekick, and the Apple Watch. Pick up your ROAD iD today for you or the runner you love.

For Visibility: BioLite Headlamp 330

There’s two parts to visibility – allowing you to see others and allowing others to see you. The BioLite Headlamp helps with the former.

Some runners may prefer a headlamp that has a third strap running vertically on top of their head to prevent any risk of slipping (especially during wetter runs), but we’ve found the BioLite Headlamp 330 sits comfortably flat against most foreheads. The headlamp battery is rechargeable,so don’t worry about traveling with a spare pack of AAA Duracells! The only downside is it doesn’t have a rear light to signal to oncoming vehicles or runners. One of the best running safety gear for trail runners and night runners!

For More Visibility: The Amphipod Xinglet

Now, for helping yourself be seen. 

While it’s important on trail runs to have 330 lumens guiding your way, when running through the streets of a big city—or even your local neighborhood at night—it’s important that oncoming runners and cars can see you clearly. 

Though some runners like blinking lights, we prefer the Amphipod Xinglet. It’s extremely lightweight, extremely visible, and not a pain to put on. When it comes to selecting safety gear, you want to make sure it isn’t a burden to get into and out of before a run – otherwise, you’ll end up wearing less of it than you’d hoped. The best running safety gear if you run in the city.

For Scrapes, Cuts & Bruises: First Aid Kit

While it’s not always practical to run with a first aid kit, if you do have access to a pocket or backpack to store keys, a wallet, and phone during your run,we recommend carrying some medical essentials. 

While most runners won’t need to travel with a pair of scissors and 100 feet of medical bandages, keeping essentials like bandaids and disinfectant wipes on you is wise, especially during technical runs on uneven or trail terrains.

Dehydration prevention running safety gear.
Image courtesy of iRunFar

For Hydration: CamelBak Ultra Pro W 6L Hydration Vest

Hydration is as vital a part of running as moving your legs. If you’re running, you should be hydrating. 

In years past, there have been runners who lose consciousness or suffer fatal injuries from lack of hydration while running in extreme heat. If you’re headed out for a run in any temperature north of 60°F (15°C), have a hydration plan. A hydration vest like the CamelBak Ultra Pro gives access to 6L of fluids (202 fluid oz, or about 25 glasses). The best running safety gear for summer runs.

Birdie, one of the most effective self protection running safety gear.

For Running Alone: She’s Birdie

While some of us have a running group or a few friends we call up when we want to log our weekly miles, on many occasions you may find yourself running alone. During these solo adventures, there are some best practices for picking running routes:stick to well-lit streets, run routes you know, and avoid running too far in one direction away from your starting point. 

For those runners who deem themselves adventurous and have a hard time sticking to the same running routes each day, we recommend She’s Birdie. It’s a keyring device that, when activated, flashes a bright light and siren  meant to deter or startle any impending threats. While it’s a safety alarm designed for women by women, men shouldn’t feel shy about investing in their own personal protective equipment. Some runners recommend carrying pepper spray, but its use requires a little more training.

Runner Safety Best Practices

Products are just tools: they help amplify actions. At its essence, safety starts with the best decision making. Before every run, consider these simple best practices:

  • Try to run during the daylight. If you live in a region that gets dark early, or if you run during a time of the year when there isn’t daylight after 5:00 pm, aim to run in well-lit areas.
  • Stay on the sidewalk or designated trails.
  • If running in the road, run in the direction of oncoming vehicles.
  • Always carry a cell phone, form of identification (like a ROAD iD), cash, and a credit card, and carry first aid if you run on uneven terrain.
  • Share your location with your spouse, friend, or neighbor through the ROAD iD app or Find My iPhone app.
  • Try to stick to known routes, streets, and neighborhoods.
  • For additional  physical protection, consider carrying the Birdie or pepper spray.
  • If you use a run tracker like Strava, always begin tracking your runs 100 to 500 feet away from your home.
  • Be smart about headphone use. If you’re feeling unsafe, turn off any music.
  • It can be a good idea to invest in self defense lessons.

It’s also wise to consider running safety in different temperatures.

From its roots at the Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon it’s hard to find an apparel company that understands runners more than Nike. Whether its Michael Johnson’s legendary golden shoes worn during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics or Eliud Kipchoge’s running the first marathon under two hours – Nike has played a role. To keep you informed of the latest products, here’s a short roundup of the best Nike running gear you can grab right now. Lucky as well, some our favorite shoe models are on sale in anticipation of the shoe’s predecessor. From today, we’re between ten and twelve weeks from prime spring marathon season. Prefer to check out the best of all brands? You can check our best half marathon shoes list.

It’s time to stock up.

Nike Invincible 3, the most popular Nike running gear on the market today.

Best Everyday Trainer: Nike Invincible 3

The feedback on the Nike Invincible 3 is that it’s a departure from the Nike Invincible 2, but not in a bad way. While the foam definitely makes it a max cushioned shoe, the rubber bottoms have more stiffness and structure than the previous models. Many have communicated that the upper mesh to be thicker than previous models. If you tried the Invincible 2 and felt it too thin of an upper and too flexible a sole, this might be a great option for you.

Men’s Nike Invincible 3

Women’s Nike Invincible 3

The Pegasus - Nike running gear for every type of runner.

The Workhorse: Nike Pegasus 39

The Pegasus is Nike’s most reliable daily trainer. Often touted as the “workhorse” shoe since you can do pretty much everything and anything in it. Nike Pegasus 40 goes on sale this summer. Because of the new model, The version 39 is on sale. But, these shoes are one of the all time great Nike running gear buys and always will be. This is probably our all time favorite Nike running gear.

Men’s Nike Pegasus 39

Women’s Nike Pegasus 39

The Racing Shoe: Nike Vaporfly NEXT% 3

The previous version of the Vaporfly 2 took the world by storm in that many of the fastest runners in major world marathons were wearing a version of Nike’s carbon plating racing shoe. In all honesty, most runners don’t need shoes like this. If you’re running and trying run a best time, these shoes improve running efficiency by a meaningful margin as verified by scientific testing.

Men’s Nike Vaporfly NEXT% 3

Women’s Nike Vaporfly NEXT %3

The Men’s Hoodie: Nike Therma-FIT ADV A.P.S.

On days when you’re not quite sure you need a thick running jacket or just another layer, this Nike Therma-FIT hoodie is made from both recycled polyester (read: sustainable) and is combined with heat-regulating fabrics (read: warm). It’s versatile, lightweight, and has great technical features like side zippers and a kangaroo pocket. It’s now on sale for 15% off.

Men’s Nike Therma-FIT ADV A.P.S

The Women’s Jacket: Nike Shield

Don’t think just because it’s spring means you can step outside in a light merino wool long sleeve and be as warm as you need to be. We like the Nike Shield because it’s primary goal is weather resistance which means you can count on it in the rain and wind, even if the temperatures start to climb. Now 31% off for the spring running season.

Women’s Nike Shield

The All-Purpose Running Shirt: Nike Dri-FIT Element

Like the Therma-FIT hoodie, the Nike Dri-FIT Element is made with 75% recycled polyester. The running crew is designed to be a hybrid between a casual running shirt and a pullover. The fabric is sweat wicking and offers UV protection and it has great technical features like a thumb-hole.

Men’s Nike Dri-FIT Element

Women’s Nike Dri-FIT Element

The All-Purpose Running Short: Nike Dri-FIT

It’s easy to overthink running clothing. When it comes to running shorts – pick the length that feels most comfortable to you, pick the waist line that has the the elastic or tie that you prefer, and make sure it wicks sweat. The Nike Dri-FIT for both men and women is a predictably good short with a lot of options for sizing and colorways.

Men’s Nike Dri-FIT Unlimited

Women’s Nike Dri-FIT One

All Types of Running Socks: Trail Running Crew Socks

If you’re not running on trails, you don’t necessarily need a trail running sock but it certainly couldn’t hurt. Trail Running socks are designed to keep feet dry and from slipping when on unstable terrain. Even if you’re running on pavement, having the best socks on the market is worth an investment.

Nike Trail Running Crew Socks

The Half Marathoner’s Pack: Nike Run Backpack

Race day you’ll likely be carrying with you a water bottle, four to six energy gels, a change of socks, sunglasses, car keys, the list goes on and on. The Nike Run Backpack is specifically designed for race day. The pack has side supporting cinch straps to secure the pack against your body. It’s also designed to be small enough to store in any locker.

Nike Run Backpack

Hat Keep The Sweat At Bay: Nike AeroBill Tailwind

If you’re a hat-wearer, it’s worth investing into an actual running hat. In the heat, a regular cotton hat will sit wet on your head for the duration of a long run or race. Hats like the Nike AeroBill Tailwind have been designed to be lightweight, wick sweat, and not be blown off in high winds.

Nike AeroBill Tailwind

Whether you’re a desert bloom who thrives in the sunshine or a snowbird who can’t stand the thought of another winter, Phoenix offers a welcome escape. Here, we offer a roundup of the best Phoenix half marathons and in the nearby areas..

The capital city of Arizona is the fifth-largest city in the US—and growing! However, even if you prefer a quieter venue for your runcations, you’ll find magical Southwestern desert landscapes around the city that provide out-of-this-world sights for your latest trail running conquest. 

 

Phoenix 10K - one of the most popular Phoenix half marathons.

Phoenix 10K & Half Marathon

Arizona’s dry and warm climate makes for wonderful fall running, and the Phoenix 10K & Half Marathon is no exception. This November race, an annual event for nearly 50 years. It draws thousands of participants from across the state and farther afield. 

Billed by organizers as “Arizona’s original road race.” The 10K race set the stage for Arizona’s running boom in the late ‘70s. Now, the popular half marathon out-and-back course offers participants seeking a longer challenge an on-foot tour of downtown Phoenix, beginning and ending near City Hall. This is certainly one of the most popular Phoenix half marathons.

November 12, 2023 | Phoenix, AZ |  Race info & signup

Pride Run Phoenix Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

Celebrate equality, diversity, inclusion, and acceptance with this Southwestern offering from the popular Pride Run series. 

The race is held in the Melrose District of midtown Phoenix, a vibrant neighborhood known for antiquing, exciting nightlife, and a network of LGBTQ+ friendly businesses. The half marathon course is run point-to-point, beginning at Phoenix’s Solano Park and carrying participants through to the finish line at the Phoenix Art Museum. 

In the spirit of accessibility, organizers note that the flat and fast nature of this course makes it suitable both for wheelchair participants and parents on-the-go who would like to push strollers. 

March 18, 2023 | Phoenix, AZ | Race info & signup

USA Women’s Half Marathon

Gather your best girlfriends and get ready to combine a luxury vacation and challenging sporting event for the ultimate gal’s getaway.

The race begins at the Arizona Biltmore hotel in Phoenix, (which also serves as the host hotel for runners traveling in for the event) before following along the Arizona Canal Trail and Arcadia bike path to the finish at the Scottsdale’s Waterfront. The course is mostly flat and very scenic, with a generous 4 hour time limit for participants. 

Participants are treated to mimosas and massages post-race, and all finishers receive a Kendra Scott custom pendant and necklace and a Lululemon finisher’s shirt. 

2023 TBA; lottery open April 1-May 29, 2023 | Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ | Race info & signup

Rock 'n' Roll Arizona is one of the biggest Phoenix half marathons, just 20 minutes away

Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon, Half Marathon & Mini Marathon

As one of the most popular racing events in Arizona, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon, Half Marathon & Mini Marathon draws as many as 30,000 participants each year across all events.

Live bands and local high school cheerleading squads keep the party going and enthusiasm high as participants tackle the course, which now features an out-and-back route that starts and finishes near the Arizona State University campus. Along the way, runners will explore Tempe and Scottsdale, taking in sights like the Salt River and both Eldorado and Papago parks. Tempe is only a 20 minute drive from Phoenix, so with its popularity and size – make this one of the must-run Phoenix half marathons.

January 14, 2024 | Tempe, AZ | Race info & signup

The Saguaro Half Marathon

If you love desert scenery and wild, wild Western vibes, this is the half marathon for you.

Run on a combination of roads and trails, The Saguaro Half Marathon explores the peaceful Sonoran desert through Tucson Mountain Park outside of western Tucson. You’ll roll into the finish line feeling like it’s high noon—the race ends at Old Tucson Movie Studio, the filming location for classic Western movies like El Dorado, Lonesome Cowboys, Calamity Jane, and more. While a two hour drive from downtown, the impressive backdrop and high-quality race production make this one of the must-run Phoenix half marathons on our list.

2024 TBA | Tucson, AZ | Race info & signup

Mesa Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K

Temperatures will likely only crest into the mid-60s for this wintertime race—making it a perfect time to explore the desert city of Mesa.

The half marathon follows the second half of the full marathon course, the latter of which, for those looking to tackle the Boston Marathon in the spring, serves as a qualifying race.

Half marathoners will begin their race on East McDowell Road, which lies near Falcon Field airport and The Boeing Company. This point-to-point race nets an overall downhill as racers tour through the historic Escobedo district that includes the Arizona Museum of Natural History and Fitch Park, the spring training home of the MLB’s Oakland Athletics.

Half marathoners will meet back up with their full marathon compatriots as they cross the finish line at Riverview Shopping Center in Mesa.

February 10, 2024 | Mesa, AZ | Race info & signup

Lost Dutchman Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K & 8K

Named one of the “Best Little Marathons in the Country” by Runner’s World, this rugged desert race is both scenic and challenging.

Knock on wood or turn around and spit before beginning the race, which takes runners from Prospector Park near downtown Apache Junction east toward the Superstition Mountains. The half marathon course starts out flat for the first part of the race before creeping over and back down the hilly course for the second half of the race. 

While this race is challenging, if you need more time, fear not: there is no time limit for completing the half marathon course.

February 18, 2024 | Apache Junction, AZ | Race info & signup

Arizona Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

A newer half marathon offering in the area, the Arizona Half Marathon, 10K & 5K has been a sellout event for the first few years of its history—so sign up early to guarantee yourself a spot!

The race utilizes the New River Trail System, an asphalt and concrete network of running trails. The out-and-back course begins and ends at Rio Vista Park in Peoria, making this race easy for participants to both find parking and return to their cars at the end of the event.

Organizers note that this event is friendly to both walkers and participants pushing strollers, but racers in these circumstances are asked to start further back in the pack. Friendly leashed pets are also welcome in the race.

2024 TBA | Peoria, AZ | Race info & signup

Scottsdale Half Marathon & 5K

Hosted by Runner’s Den, an Arizona-based running supply store and pillar of the state’s running community, the Scottsdale Half Marathon & 5K is beloved both by locals and tourists alike.

The point-to-point loop course offers a tour of Arizona’s Valley of the Sun—the popular nickname for the greater Phoenix area, which sits in the Salt River Valley. The half marathon is relatively flat, fast, and scenic, departing from the Scottsdale Civic Center and winding past local parks and golf courses before returning to the finish near Scottsdale Stadium. 

2023 TBA | Scottsdale, AZ | Race info & signup

Hippity Hop Half Marathon, 10K & 5K

This out-and-back event begins and ends at the Peoria Sports Complex, the spring training home of the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners. The half marathon is run on the asphalt and concrete trails of the New River Trail System, which offers a safe and accessible outdoor oasis in the midst of the otherwise populous suburban area. 

There is a generous 4.5 hour time limit for the half marathon, making it suitable for walkers and runners who may need extra time.

Will you have a young one with you at this event? The Cottontail Dash, held shortly after the half marathon departs but before the 10K & 5K take off, is an untimed half mile event. Bring a basket, as children will collect Easter eggs from volunteers along the route. Parents or guardians are welcome to accompany their youth, free of charge.

April 8, 2023 | Peoria, AZ |  Race info & signup

Complete Calendar of 2023-2024 Phoenix Half Marathons

  1. Time to Paddy 5K/10K and Lucky 13.1 – March 5, 2023 | Flagstaff, AZ
  2. Mesquite Canyon Trail Runs – March 11, 2023 | Waddell, AZ 
  3. XTERRA Black Canyon Trail Run – March 12, 2023 | Rock Springs Cafe, AZ 
  4. Pride Run Phoenix Half Marathon – March 18, 2023 | Phoenix, AZ
  5. Tucson Shamrock Half Marathon – March 18, 2023 | Tucson, AZ
  6. Antelope Canyon Ultra Marathons – March 11, 2023 |  Page, AZ
  7. Hippity Hop Half Marathon – April 8, 2023 | Peoria, AZ
  8. Havasu Half Marathon – April 15, 2023 |  Lake Havasu City, AZ
  9. Whiskey Basin Trail Runs – April 15, 2023 |  Prescott, AZ
  10. Santa Hustle 5K & Half Marathon – 2023 TBA | Glendale, AZ
  11. USA Women’s Half Marathon – November 2023 | Phoenix, AZ
  12. Phoenix 10K & Half Marathon – November 12, 2023 | Phoenix, AZ
  13. Scottsdale Half Marathon – December 2023 | Scottsdale, AZ
  14. Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona – January 14, 2024 | Tempe, AZ
  15. Saguaro Half Marathon – January 2024 | Tucson, AZ
  16. Mesa Half Marathon – February 10, 2024 | Mesa, AZ
  17. Lost Dutchman Half Marathon – February 18, 2024 | Apache Junction, AZ
  18. Arizona Half Marathon – March 2024 | Peoria, AZ

Every year, over 1.9 million runners lace up for over 2,800 half marathons held in the United States.. Training for a half marathon is arduous. On average, an individual will spend between 50 and 80 hours running in preparation for a half marathon. And that doesn’t include the time warming up, cooling down, fueling, or complaining about how dark/cold/wet/dry/hot it is outside. We have millions of runners visit the Half Marathon Guide per year who are dedicating themselves to the physical and emotional task of running 13.1 miles. With such time invested, it’s no wonder the most frequent request we get from readers is to point them toward the most scenic half marathons in the country.

Well, ask no further. These scenic half marathons in the United States will reward you with the best views for all your training efforts.

The OC Marathon in Newport Beach, CA

Our top pick for the most scenic half marathon in the United States is bestowed upon the legendary OC Marathon in Newport Beach, California. It’s not hard to articulate why. While other races may offer you cacti, mountain ranges, rivers, or bridges, the OC Marathon offers you a non-stop look at the most spectacular coastal sights. 

By the end of the thirteen miles, runners will have run on the Pacific Coastal Highway, seen the opulent homes on Ocean Boulevard, breathed in the salty air of the Pacific Ocean, and jogged through the calming coastal communities that make Orange County so scenic. You just can’t find a better fairytale half marathon in the entire country.

May 7, 2023 | Read More | Register

The Kauai Half Marathon in Kauai, HI

The Kauai Half Marathon begins at the resort area of Poipu Beach and takes runners on a tour of classic Hawaiian landscapes. From sandy beaches and lush jungle-like rain forests to rich green-covered mountains, and flowing rivers and waterfalls. 

What stands out to most runners of this race is the “Tunnel of Trees,” a stretch of road mirrored on both sides by eucalyptus trees planted 150 years ago by Scottish immigrant cattle ranchers.

September 3, 2023 | Read More | Register

Monterey Bay Half Marathon in Monterey, CA

For sheer natural beauty and dramatic coastal scenery, it’s impossible to top this race. You’ll get to run past the deep blues and greens of the Pacific Ocean crashing along the coastline. The kelp beds swaying back and forth with the waves, and the seagulls floating along the breeze. You may even catch a glimpse of seals and sea lions out on the large rocks in the water.

November 10-12, 2023 | Read More | Register

Crater Lake Rim Runs Half Marathon in Crater Lake, OR

Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park is filled with rugged Pacific Northwest mountain terrain that encircles one of the country’s most majestic and beautiful lakes.. This late-summer race takes runners around the rim of Crater Lake at altitudes ranging from 5,980 to 7,850 feet above sea level. To give participants the most tranquil experience, the race is limited to 500 participants so you won’t have to push or shove a neighboring runner to take in the views from the course.

August 2023 | Read More | Register

Boulderthon in Boulder, CO

Boulderthon in Boulder, CO

Boulder has long been recognized nationally for its ranking as one of the Best Places to Live by US News & World Report, but has found a new accolade of hosting one of the most beautiful half marathons in America, Boulderthon. Only in its second year of running, the race is quickly becoming the most popular in Colorado with over 5,000 runners. The race begins at the Boulder Reservoir before taking runners along the Flatirons, the striking red sandstone formations on Boulder’s west side, with a finish on historic Pearl Street Mall. The race is touted as having the charm and attention to detail of a boutique race and the production quality of a big one. Boulderthon is one you should not miss.

October 8, 2023 | Register

Malibu Half Marathon in Malibu, CA

Rocky bluffs, sandy beaches, waves crashing against the shoreline, and plenty of rugged hills await on the point-to-point route along the Pacific Coast Highway at this fall race. The course takes runners along the Malibu coastline, where they’ll take in natural views of the Pacific Ocean as well as the elegant architecture of beachfront homes owned by some of Hollywood’s biggest names.

November 5, 2023 | Read More | Register

Grand Teton Half Marathon in Jackson, WY

During the winter, Jackson Hole is a skier’s paradise. During the summer, it becomes a runner’s paradise. In the month of June, the lush backdrop of the Grand Teton Mountains, the crystal clear waters of the Snake River, and the natural wildlife make this a one-of-a-kind scenic half marathon.

As a reminder, the course does take place at 6,000 feet above sea level. At higher altitudes, a runner may find themselves winded easily on the course – but don’t let that dissuade you; just run slower!

June 3, 2023 | Read More | Register

Sedona Half Marathon in Sedona, AZ

The most famous outdoor concert venue in the country is the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver. It’s a massive, open-air amphitheater carved right into the rock structure – the type of stark, colorful rock for which Sedona is most known. The Sedona Half Marathon takes 2,000 runners through the heart of central Arizona’s mountain valleys and red rock spires.

February 4, 2023 | Read More | Register

Steamboat Half Marathon in Steamboat Springs, CO

The Steamboat Half Marathon doesn’t often end up on many of these scenic or beautiful half marathon lists – and we think that’s a mistake! Back in 2006, it was named one of the best destination half marathons by Runner’s World and declared the state’s best by Colorado Runner Magazine. We’re advocating for its comeback! 

The course takes runners through Hahns Peak and Elk River Valley on a gently cascading downhill course sporting lush green as far as the eye can see.

June 4, 2023 | Read More | Register

Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon in Lexington, KY

Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon in Lexington is self-declared “America’s Prettiest Half Marathon,” and we’re not going to argue with a title like that. 

The race location will be familiar to any film buffs who’ve seen Seabiscuit, as the race takes runners through the fenced-in pastures that house some of the world’s most impressive racehorses. Take your inspiration from these racing champions as you trot over a lot of green, grassy hills. 

May 2o, 2023 | Read More | Register


Rocky Mountain Half Marathon in Estes Park, CO

Befitting the name of the race,  the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon offers runners daunting views of the Rocky Mountains in every direction. 

Like other scenic half marathons that offer views of the mountains, it goes without saying that this race also takes place at a high elevation above sea level. The course will have runners at over 7,400 feet above sea level—a dramatic increase over our next-highest race in the Tetons at 6,000 feet. 

July 29, 2023 | Read More | Register

Bar Harbor Bank & Trust Half Marathon in Bar Harbor, ME

As of the most historic places in the United States, Europeans visited Bar Harbor 16 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. The Bar Harbor Bank & Trust Half Marathon is also one of the only half marathons to run through the grounds of a U.S. National Park — Maine’s Acadia National Park. The grounds of this September race offer a bit of history as well, as philanthropist John D. Rockefeller built around 45 miles of carriage roads through Acadia National Park between 1913 and 1940.

September 16, 2023 | Read More | Register

Monument Half Marathon in Scottsbluff, NE

Run through a gorgeous, rocky landscape that is home to historic stretches of the Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trail. This early fall race features a 13.1-miler and 5-kilometer race in addition to its flagship 26.2-miler.

All of the races take runners through the 3,000-acre Scotts Bluff National Monument. Like Sedona, the Monument Half Marathon is all about the rock formations. If you want some Midwestern green in your rocky half marathons, this Nebraska half might be the right scenic race for you.

September 30, 2023 | Read More | Register

What makes a most scenic half marathon

The United States has some of the most diverse natural scenery of any country in the world. You can see skyscrapers in New York, Tokyo, or Dubai. We chose half marathons whose scenery was unique enough that it couldn’t be seen elsewhere in the country or world. We also made sure the course for running the half marathon offered ideal views of the scenery.

Where are the most scenic half marathons?

From our list, there are three in California, two in Colorado, and one in Hawaii, Oregon, Wyoming, Arizona, Kentucky, Maine, and Nebraska.

This article was produced in partnership with the OC Marathon.

While you may be able to get away with walking a few miles in uncomfortable sneakers without injury, you shouldn’t expect the same after a run.

Millions of dollars are poured into running shoe design every year attempting to perfect everything from the spring and stability of the sole to the breathability of the outsole. This list of best half marathon shoes will provide some inspiration and insight into the best shoes for training and running 13.1 miles from each brand.

Quicklook: Best Half Marathon Shoes

10 Best Half-Marathon Shoes 

Finding the right half marathon shoe is an important part of training and running a half marathon. Here are some of the best half marathon shoes on the market.

Best Lightweight Sneaker: Adidas Adizero Adios

The Adidas Adizero Adios has a long history of being worn by champions, including Haile Gebrselassie who ran a world-record marathon time in 2008 at the Berlin Marathon. He had a winning time of 2:03:59 or around 4 minutes and 43 seconds per mile. The sneaker is well known for its cushioned and responsive sole and is built for tempo efforts as opposed to longer easy runs. The sneaker is lightweight coming in at 8.10 oz. Due to the intricate lacing system, you won’t feel like the tongue of the sneaker is clamping down on your foot, but you will need to spend a little time upfront adjusting the upper to your comfort.

  • Best Shoe for Marathon by Runner’s World
  • Best Shoe for Racing by Fleet Feet
  • Best Shoe for Racing by Sports Illustrated
  • Best Shoe for Racing by RunRepeat

Best for Durability: Nike Pegasus 39

Nike is one of the leaders in the running industry consistently producing running sneakers ranked highly by industry experts. Many elite runners sponsored by Nike like Eliud Kipchoga run in VaporFlys or AlphaFlys when competing. The Nike Pegasus 39 is an annually updated training shoe designed for its durability and versatility for training and racing. . The shoe doesn’t provide an overly cushioned or bouncy experience, but is a very durable sneaker, called Nike’s “workhorse” that can be worn during cross-training as well.

  • Top Running Shoe of 2022 by Runner’s World
  • One of the Best Running Shoes of 2022 by Fleet Feet
  • Best Overall Shoe by RunRepeat
  • Best Running Shoe for Speed by Sports Illustrated 

Best for Cushioning: Brooks Glycerin GTS 20 StealthFit

The Brooks Glycerin GTS 20 StealthFit features a maximum cushioned sole which is meant for runners who are putting in longer mileage runs and an “engineered air mesh” upper shoe. The shoe has a soft and snug feel. Whether you pronate or supinate, Brooks makes shoes that are steady, springy, and reliable and the Glycerine GTS 20 is no exception.

  • Best Shoe for Every Day Cushioning by Runner’s World
  • Best Shoe for Cushion by Fleet Feet
  • Best Shoe for Road Running by RunRepeat
  • Most Comfortable Running Shoes by Sports Illustrated 

Best for Women:  lululemon Blissfeel

The lululemon Blissfeel is the athletic clothing company’s entry into the sneaker market. The Blissfeel is a comfortable sneaker with a snug feel. The shoe provides a bounce with each step and is a good starting shoe for lululemon’s first serious running sneaker. It was designed using scans from the feet of over 1 million women so you’ll see design features like the angle of the heel designed particularly for women. The lululemon Blissfeel shoe is not particularly fast or light which makes it more reliable as a daily trainer. 

  • Named an Innovative Sneaker for Women by Women’s Running
  • Named as one of the Best Running Shoes for Women by Bustle

Best for Daily Training: Saucony Triumph 20 

The Saucony Triumph 20 is Saucony’s daily, maximum-cushioned trainer. It’s very well padded in the heel and the forefoot. The sole is Saucony’s PWRRun+ which is a supportive, stabilizing sole but not as springy as a racing shoe. Saucony has also reduced some of the weight of the shoe compared to past models. It is a great sneaker for easy and long runs.

  • Best Shoe for Maximum Cushioning by Runner’s World
  • Best Shoe for Max Cushion by Fleet Feet

Best for Beginners: New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12

The New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 is their updated daily trainer. The shoe has an upgraded pillowy sole which is its softest yet for everyday training runs. It also comes with an improved heel (for those of you that weren’t fans of the UltraHeel). The shoe is designed for a smoother ride than previous models so if you’re a New Balance fan, this is the shoe to upgrade to. 

  • Best Shoe for Daily Training by Runner’s World
  • Best Shoe for Everyday Training by Fleet Feet
  • Best Running Shoes for Men with Plantar Fasciitis by Sports Illustrated
  • One of the Best Running Shoes by Believe in the Run 

Best for Bounciness: New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3

The New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3 has a light and breathable upper. It has a light, responsive and bouncy sole with an additional 1.5 millimeters from the previous version. The shoe is light, which is sometimes confused with being a racing shoe, but it only helps support the bounciness of the sole. If you like investing in shoes with high energy returns in each step, this is a great version for you. 

  • Best Shoe for Uptempos by Runner’s World
  • Best Shoe for Speed Work by Fleet Feet
  • Best Overall Running Shoe by RunRepeat
  • One of the Best Running Shoes by Believe in the Run

Best for Durability Among Carbon-Plated Running Shoes: Hoka Carbon X

The Hoka Carbon X uses a carbon plate to push you forward with every step. . The shoes were released as part of a 50-mile world record attempt by ultrarunner Jim Walmsley who wore a pair of Hoka Carbon X and ran 5:48 per mile for the 50 miles. You don’t have to be an ultrarunner to get the advantages of the shoe. The Hoka Carbon X carbon plate helps guide your foot through the stride and, if you’re looking for a durable and affordable carbon-plated shoe – this is worth checking out.

  • Best Shoe for Racing by Runner’s World
  • Maximally Cushioned, Hyper Responsive Shoe Design by Fleet Feet
  • Cheapest Carbon Plated Running Shoe Priced at a Steal by RunRepeat

Best for Half Marathon Racing: ASICS Metaspeed Sky

The ASICS Metaspeed Sky features a carbon plate that increases your stride length and creates a smoother running experience. These are shoes that you’d only invest in and run in if you’re trying to achieve a personal best in a race. They’re less affordable and less versatile than the other shoes on our list, but this is ASICS competition with the Nike AlphaFly or NEXT%.  The sole has been described as soft but responsive and many have reviewed this shoe as being the best in class.

  • Best Shoe for Long Runs by Runner’s World
  • Best Shoe for Road Racing by Fleet Feet
  • Best Shoe for Races by RunRepeat
  • Best Shoe for Racing by Running Shoes Guru

Best Lightweight Shoe for Marathon Running: On Cloudboom Echo

The On Cloudboom Echo has a carbon plate and minimalistic design that makes it weigh less than most running shoes. The company built this running shoe alongside elite athletes to provide an enjoyable and fast experience for their runners. These running shoes have the race blend of all-out racing shoes and comfort for your feet. On Running is one of the fastest growing running shoe brands in the market and this is our best recommendation for those training for a half marathon distance.

  • Best Shoe for Racing by Fleet Feet
  • Best Shoe for Wide Feet by RunRepeat
  • One of the Best Shoes for Road Racing by Trail and Kale

Training vs. Racing Shoes: What’s the Difference and Does it Matter?

You shouldn’t wear the same running shoes for training and racing days. Training shoes are usually more durable, wider, and affordable than their race-day counterparts. Racing sneakers are lighter, less durable, and more expensive. Some of these shoes, mostly racing shoes, have carbon plates, which make them faster but also make them more expensive. Trainers help you get better and reduce the likelihood of injury, while racing shoes give you the extra thrust you need to beat the competition. Runners should have all of the essentials, so they can run good workouts and be ready for race day. It’s a good idea to incorporate training and racing shoes for your running.

What to Look for in Half-Marathon Shoes

You can only run in one pair of shoes during a half marathon. It’s important to pick a shoe that makes you feel confident and helps you run a faster time. Here are some key details to look for when searching for the right running shoes for you.

Cushion

Comfort is the ultimate goal for any running shoe, and a good cushion can help with that. Some runners need maximum cushioning, while others can still have an enjoyable experience with some cushioning. If you do not feel comfortable in the sneaker, nothing else will compensate for it. 

Your History with Running Shoes

When you first look for running shoes, it’s common to explore. When runners find the right sneaker or brand for their needs, it’s better to stick with what already works. Nike was the first sneaker company to release running shoes with carbon plates, but with most brands catching up, it is easier to stick with the shoes you already know.

Your Running Gait

A running shoe can help correct your running gait or reduce the risk of injury. Heel striking is a common problem for runners that can lead to injuries. Some running shoes provide better stability and cushion support than others to modify your running gait and keep you on your feet.

Durability

Some running shoes are more durable than others, and picking a less durable pair means more visits to the sneaker shop. You don’t want to run in your sneakers until the toe box has holes, but you also don’t want to have to get a new pair of sneakers every 200 miles. 

Carbon Plate

A carbon-plated shoe is the gold standard for half marathoners who want to run their fastest times. If you look for sneakers with carbon plates, you will have to increase your budget. It’s common to find a pair of carbon-plated sneakers that exceed $200. But many runners pay the extra price to shave more time off their half-marathon personal records.

Get the Right Running Shoes for Your Next Big Race

A good pair of running shoes can help you run a faster half marathon and enjoy the experience. Runners have plenty of great options that provide a blend of speed, durability, and comfort. Reviewing several sneakers will help you find one that suits your needs. You should then fit into them for one to two weeks before the race, so you are ready to hit your race goal.

FAQ

What makes a good shoe for a half marathon?

A good shoe for a half marathon feels comfortable and is relatively light weight. Some sneakers even have technology that gives you additional momentum on every step.

Can you wear new shoes for a half marathon?

You shouldn’t wear new sneakers for the half marathon if you got them a few days ago. It’s best to fit into them for one or two weeks before using them in a race.

How long do you have to break in shoes before a half marathon?

You should give yourself one to two weeks to break in a new pair of running sneakers before a half marathon. Giving yourself closer to two weeks is better.

ASICS offers tried-and-true running shoes with a reputation for quality. You’ve got dozens of models to choose from, which means it might feel overwhelming to discern from all the makes and models to find the best ASICS running shoes for you. To guide you in your search, here’s a look at the best options based on various use cases and running types.

Quicklook: Best ASICS Running Shoes

10 Best ASICS Running Shoe Options

ASICS is an acronym for the popular Latin phrase “anima sana in corpore sano,” which means “a sound mind in a sound body.” The shoe company was founded at the Research Institute for Sports Science in Japan after scientists extensively tested how shoes support the unique movements of runners. 

So if you’ve been wondering are ASICS a good running shoe, know that thousands of hours of research go into each shoe design with focus on supporting a runner’s body and movement with the most advanced technology.

ASICS is well known for reliable support, comfort, and speed. There’s a shoe for every runner regardless of whether you overpronate, have a unique foot shape, or run short or long distances. Here’s a look at our pick of the top 10 ASICS sneakers.

Best Daily Trainer for Neutral Runners: ASICS Novablast 3

The Novablast 3 is one of ASICS most versatile running shoes. It offers high-cushioned running that holds up over long distances while offering the lightweight flexibility needed for speed work. It features a lightweight FF BLAST PLUS midsole with foam to rebound quickly from each step to avoid fatigue during distance runs. 

Each side of the shoe has a stabilizer in the heel meant to reduce side-to-side movement when form starts to break down over long distances.

The upper is made from 75% recycled materials and offers incredible breathability. ASICS Novablast 3 is a great combination of cushion and lightweight speed for neutral runners looking to tackle any distance.

  • Best ASICS Running Shoe for Neutral Runners by Fleet Feet
  • Best ASICS Running Shoe by Running Warehouse
  • One of the Best ASICS Running Shoes by Believe in the Run 
  • Best ASICS Running Shoe for Tempo Runs by Sole Review

Best for Everyday Training: ASICS GEL-Nimbus 24

This neutral shoe is an outstanding everyday training shoe. Its strength is in long distances. Version 24 is lighter than its predecessors but still offers incredible support and cushion. The shoe is reliable with a soft, easy ride.

The latest version of this shoe now has the FF BLAST PLUS midsole cushioning like the Novablast, which adds cushion while reducing the weight of the previous model of the shoe. As one of ASICS gel shoes, it offers more shock absorption in the midsole. This feature promotes compression in the heel to create smooth transitions between your heel and toe during your run.

With 20% recycled material in the upper, the shoe provides peace of mind that you’re supporting sustainable business practices while still enjoying breathable fabric.

  • Most Cushioning Asics Running Shoe by Runner’s World
  • Best Everyday Training ASICS Running Shoe by Fleet Feet
  • Best ASICS Running Shoe for Cushioning and Responsiveness by Road Runner Sports
  • Best ASICS Running Shoe for Daily Training by Believe in the Run 
  • Best ASICS Running Shoe for Long Runs by Sole Review

Best for Stability: ASICS GEL-Kayano 29

On the market for more than two decades, the ASICS GEL-Kayano 29 offers the best stability shoe from the manufacturer. It also features ASICS’s FF BLAST PLUS in the midsole for an energetic, lightweight ride.

ASICS uses its signature LITETRUSS in the midsole to ensure runners who pronate don’t roll their foot inward too far. A major concern for stability shoes can be the stiffness of the soles causing a lack of flexibility, but you won’t find that in these shoes. The toe of the shoe has been designed with flex in mind to guarantee long-term comfort.

The rubber outsole offers traction so you can feel firmly planted on the pavement even during damp or slippery conditions. Plus, the material holds up to heavy use. The stretchy knit upper is more breathable than previous models.

  • Best Stability ASICS Running Shoe by Fleet Feet
  • One of the Best-Selling ASICS Running Shoes according to ASICSBest ASICS Running Shoe for a Smooth Ride by Road Runner Sports
  • Best ASICS Running Shoe for Overpronators by Sole Review

Best for Beginner Runners: ASICS GEL-Cumulus 24

The ASICS GEL-Cumulus 24 is a neutral trainer that is designed for beginners because it has an accommodating fit. Aptly named after a cloud, the shoe offers lightweight support and version 24 is softer than its predecessors because of the addition of the FF BLAST cushioning in the midsole.

FF BLAST is a low-density foam that offers plenty of cushion to reduce the impact you feel when your foot lands and propel into the next step. That cushioning helps create a smooth ride without weighing down the shoe.

The outsole is made from ASICS LITE rubber to keep the shoe lightweight but also offers excellent traction. And because the shoe is part of the ASICS GEL line, it has excellent shock absorption throughout the shoe.

  • Best ASICS Running Shoe for Beginners by Fleet Feet
  • Best-Selling ASICS Running Shoes according to ASICS
  • Most Versatile ASICS Running Shoe by Road Runner Sports
  • Best ASICS Running Shoe for Beginners by Sole Review

Best for Lightweight Stability: ASICS GT-2000 v11

Although the GT-2000 is a stability shoe, you’ll hardly be able to tell since it is so lightweight. It uses the ASICS LITETRUSS system. LITETRUSS is firm material on the medial side (the inside arch) that prevents your foot from shifting inward during runs to support runners that overpronate.

Plus, version 11 now features FF BLAST foam in the midsole for the lightest, yet densest cushioning yet. This version also features a beveled heel, which helps smooth out landings for improved heel-to-toe transitions.

As far as stability shoes go, it’s incredibly responsive. The upper is made from 50% recycled polyester, yet it’s still soft and breathable.

  • Best Lightweight Stability ASICS Running Shoe by Fleet Feet
  • Best-Selling ASICS Running Shoes according to ASICS

Best for Lightweight Cushion: ASICS GEL-Nimbus Lite 3

Another great ASICS gel shoe is the Nimbus Lite 3. The soft gel is present in the heel and forefoot to provide soft heel strikes for a lightweight, yet bouncy cushion. You’ll get softer landings with this shoe, yet as the name indicates, it is a lightweight shoe coming in at just 9.2 ounces for men and 8.1 ounces for women.

The shoe is made from recycled materials to be in line with ASICS’ commitment to sustainability. It has a FlyteFoam midsole and breathable mesh upper. It performs well for long runs and speed workouts. FlyteFoam is made from cellulose nanofiber, which comes from plant biomass.

And while the shoe is lightweight, no one would describe it as flimsy. The shoe performs well in wet conditions to offer the traction every runner wants.

  • Best Lightweight Cushion for ASICS Running Shoes by Fleet Feet
  • Best-Selling ASICS Running Shoes according to ASICS
  • Best ASICS Running Shoe for a Lightweight Ride by Road Runner Sports 
  • One of the best ASICS running shoes by Believe in the Run
  • Best ASICS running shoe for daily training by Sole Review

Best for Road Racing: ASICS MetaSpeed Sky

ASICS designed the MetaSpeed Sky for speed by placing a carbon plate inside it. The shoe has a rocker design with FF Blast Turbo cushioning in the midsole. That cushioning combined with the carbon plate offers a responsive and fast ride.

The upper is made from 100% recycled polyester and is nearly weightless. It’s one of the lightest shoes ASICS offers at just 7 ounces for men and 5.9 ounces for women. The neutral shoe helps promote forward motion by increasing the midsole’s vertical rebound. It comes from research at the ASICS Institute of Sport Science. The goal is to help runners increase their stride length, which helps them run faster.

  • Premium Racing Shoe from ASICS by Runner’s World
  • Best ASICS Running Shoe for Road Racing by Fleet Feet
  • Best ASICS Running Shoe for Racing by RunRepeat 
  • Best ASICS Running Shoe for Race Day by Believe in the Run 
  • Best ASICS Running Shoe for Marathons by Sole Review

Best for Distance: ASICS GlideRide 3

With a rocker shape and FF BLAST PLUS foam, the ASICS GlideRide 3 helps reduce the energy required for long runs. The shoe’s design stands out because it has an exaggerated rocker appearance, which helps with the heel-to-toe transition while reducing ankle flexion. This takes some load off your leg muscles when propelling your body forward.

The third iteration of this shoe is even more comfortable and lightweight compared to previous versions thanks to the upgraded FF BLAST PLUS foam. Its design feels good especially for long distances thanks to the rocker design that reduces leg fatigue. If you’re looking to run one of the best half marathons in America, these shoes will help you complete your goals.

  • Best ASICS Running Shoe for distance by Fleet Feet
  • Best ASICS Running Shoe by Running Warehouse
  • One of the ASICS Best Shoes for Running by Believe in the Run 

Best For Carbon-fiber Plate in the Midsole: ASICS MetaRacer

There’s a reason why the term race is present in this shoe name. This rocker-style shoe features a carbon-fiber plate in the midsole, which promotes energy rebound with every step.

Unlike some other shoes with a carbon-fiber plate, you won’t feel stiffness in the midsole. That’s thanks to the thick, soft midsole. So while the plate will be working hard for you, it won’t have the clunky feel some shoes with a carbon-fiber plate have.

While the shoe’s tread appearance looks semi-slick, it is anything but that. The shoe has great traction even in wet conditions thanks to the special rubber compound the manufacturer uses.

  • Best ASICS Shoe for Racing by Runner’s World

Best For Reducing Ankle Fatigue: ASICS MetaRide

The ASICS MetaRide features a rocker design, which helps reduce the amount of movement required from your ankle joint. Ankle joints require more running energy than you might expect, so taking work off this part of your body produces incredible results.

ASICS has developed the GuideSole, which is a rocker-shaped sole designed to help your body rock forward easily. You’ll also find layers of FlyteFoam throughout the shoe, which provides both support and delivers energy return. The one setback to this shoe is that it is heavier than other shoes in this category. And if you aren’t used to a rocker-style shoe, the shoe might feel unstable at first.

  • Best ASICS Shoe for Long Runs by Runner’s World

Which ASICS Are Best For Half Marathons?

Preference for each model is up to the individual. But, for half marathon distances, you’d likely want to train in something with cushion and support like the Novablas 3, ASICS Gel-Cumulus or ASICS Gel-Nimbus. For racing, you’d prefer something designed for speed like the MetaSpeed Sky or MetaRacer.

Why Are ASICS Good for Running? 

ASICS was founded in 1949 as ONITSUKA and rebranded to its current name in 1977. The shoe manufacturer has a rich history of making high-quality shoes built on the best materials and exercise science.

When designing shoes, the company starts by reviewing the shoe’s purpose, including:

  • Whether they’re meant for speed or comfort
  • What terrain: rocky or paved
  • Whether they have a roomy or tight fit

Each shoe in its lineup has a purpose. And once the company understands the runner’s purpose, it reviews five attributes to design an outstanding shoe specifically for that use case.

  1. Cushion
  2. Support
  3. Ride
  4. Fit
  5. Grip

ASICS are good for running because each shoe design starts with research about how the runner uses the shoe and creates a durable, comfortable shoe designed specifically for that type of running.

Innovative Running Shoe Designs Based on Use

ASICS offers innovative running shoe designs with high-quality materials while committing to sustainability in its shoe manufacturing. Whether you’re just getting started as a runner or looking to reduce foot and leg fatigue during running to reach optimal performance, you’ll find a shoe that meets your needs from ASICS.

FAQ

Do ASICS make good running shoes?

ASICS is a highly respected running shoe brand. According to Fleet Feet, ASICS is one of the leaders when it comes to high-quality running shoes.

What is ASICS best known for?

ASICS is best known for its GEL technology that it began producing in 1986.

How long should a pair of ASICS last?

A pair of ASICS should last 300-500 miles depending on how you use them and the model you select.

Every year thousands of runners across the US wake up before dawn, lace up their shoes, and head off to run a half marathon. Over the past decade, the 13.1-mile-long distance has become increasingly popular with nearly every major (and many minor) cities hosting a race through their streets. Half marathons come in all shapes and sizes. There’s trail races through rural forest stretches to massive inner-city competitions weaving in between skyscrapers. Thus, the number of entrants vary drastically from race to race. A handful of halves, however, have amassed a following so large they have grown to accommodate fields nearing or larger than 10,000 runners. What follows is a list of the twenty most popular half marathons in the United States, ranked by how many runners completed the 13.1 in 2022.

If you’re looking for a big race with big crowds to keep you motivated, you can’t go wrong by picking one of the halves on this list. And with races in all four seasons and all across the US, there is something here for everyone. Racers will pass famous landmarks, world class musical acts, and dozens of port-a-johns on their way to a coveted medal. Each of these is a bucket list race, perhaps you should try all twenty? 

The United Airlines NYC Half Marathon is one of the most popular half marathons in the country.

United Airlines NYC Half

The largest half marathon in the United States is New York City’s marquee half, which makes total sense. Its sister race, the NYC Marathon, holds the world record for marathon with the largest field. While the 26.2 length held every November traces a course through all five of New York’s boroughs. The half has an arguably glitzier route.

Starting in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, runners cruise through downtown Brooklyn, over the Manhattan Bridge with its incredible view of the New York skyline, and up the East River. Then the course turns into midtown. It sends runners right through the heart of Times Square, past the Plaza Hotel, and to a finish in the heart of Central Park. While it’s more difficult to enter than others on this list, it’s well worth the extra effort. The United Airlines NYC Half Marathon is one of the most popular half marathons in the country.

Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas is the second of the most popular half marathons in the United States.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas

The Rock ‘n’ Roll series of races have made quite a name for themselves by hosting fun, exciting marathons and halves with a party atmosphere (or as much of a party atmosphere as possible with knee braces and taped nipples). It makes total sense then that their most popular race would take place in Vegas, the party capital of the US. In addition to concerts before, during, and after the race, entrants also get access to exclusive after parties at some of Sin City’s hottest clubs. To take advantage of the lights on the Vegas strip (and avoid the desert heat), this race is also run in the evening making it all the more one-of-a-kind. This is the second of the most popular half marathons in the United States.

RBC Brooklyn Half Marathon - the second of the most popular half marathons in Brooklyn.

RBC Brooklyn Half Marathon

The first of a pair of spring dueling half marathons in Brooklyn! The RBC Brooklyn Half, the slightly larger of the two, is hosted by New York Road Runners, the same organization that puts on the NYC Marathon and the NYC Half. Like the NYC Half, this race also starts in Prospect Park, but rather than venture towards Manhattan, it travels in the opposite direction, heading deeper into Brooklyn.

Part of the 5 Borough Series, it gives runners an in depth look at areas of New York most tourists (and plenty of residents) don’t often travel to. This half also concludes on the Coney Island Boardwalk, the perfect place to go for a quick post-run dip in the Atlantic Ocean or scarf down a few hot dogs from Nathans. Plus a ride on the rickety Cyclone roller coaster is basically the equivalent of a post-race massage chair. The second of the most popular half marathons in Brooklyn.

 

NYCRUNS Brooklyn Half Marathon - the third of the most popular half marathons in Brooklyn.

NYCRUNS Brooklyn Half Marathon

Brooklyn’s other premiere half is hosted by NYCRUNS and spends its time in the western sections of Brooklyn closer to Manhattan. Starting in North Brooklyn, it winds its way south passing under all three of the borough’s iconic bridges over the East River. It then pivots inward and rather than starting in Prospect Park, it ends there. This race is certainly more convenient for most runners and the course is a bit more interesting as it weaves around. You will, however, have to trade the coney dogs for brunch in Park Slope, and I wouldn’t advise taking a dip in any body of water in Prospect Park. The third of the most popular half marathons in Brooklyn.

The San Diego Rock 'n' Roll is California's most popular half marathons.

San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

It’s hard to find a more beautiful place to run than San Diego, which is probably why their half is the second most popular of the Rock ‘n’ Roll series. Starting in the renowned Balboa Park, the half curves through several of the city’s most historic neighborhoods before returning to cut through Balboa again and end downtown. As with all Rock ‘n’ Roll races, the finish area doubles as a concert, with a series of musicians playing while runners can eat snacks and sip beer with their medals proudly around their necks. If you’re looking for a summer half, San Diego is also a great choice to do its temperate climate. The San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll is California’s most popular half marathons.

Not only one of the most popular half marathons, but like the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas race, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Oneamerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon

Indianapolis is now home to not one, but two iconic spring races. The first of course is the Indy 500, the 500-mile-long car race that watches the world’s most skilled Indy Car drivers take laps of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The newer race, the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon is a half-marathon that gives runners the chance to do a lap of the famed race track. Swapping tires for sneakers (and going ridiculously slower) racers will get up close and personal to where all the pitstop, car flip, and milk guzzling action will take place only a few weeks later. Fingers crossed that the weather is good and you won’t get a dreaded yellow flag. Not only one of the most popular half marathons, but like the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas race, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Disney’s Princess Half Marathon

Like Rock ‘n’ Roll, runDisney also hosts a number of highly anticipated halves each year. Their most popular of 2022 was the princess-themed half marathon they hosted in February. The Princess Half is VERY pro-costume so if you’ve got a tutu, tiara, or pair of glass running sneakers, bring ‘em. (On second thought, maybe not the glass sneakers). The magical race starts near EPCOT, runs through Magic Kingdom and then finishes back by the giant globe. As with all Disney races, there are photo ops galore, with plenty of characters lining the course. The MUST GET photo, however, is with the castle behind you. I mean, if you aren’t going to get a picture with the Cinderella Castle, then what is the point of running the Princess Half in the first place?

Disney World Half Marathon

Virtually the same size as the Princess Half, and with a very similar course, the original Disney Half Marathon is nearly indistinguishable from its sister race. The two main differences are 1) it’s not explicitly princess themed, although you do run through Cinderella’s Castle, and there will certainly be runners dressed as princesses participating, and 2) it takes place on Disney’s Marathon Weekend. That means Disney World will be bursting with opportunities to meet other runners and participate in running activities. Those brave enough can attempt the Dopey Challenge which involves running a 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon on four consecutive days.

St. Jude Rock 'n' Roll Nashville - one of the most popular half marathons in the midwest. 

St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville

If any city was going to have a music-themed half marathon, it makes sense that it would be Nashville or Music City, USA as it’s known. Like the other Rock ‘n’ Roll races, the Nashville event also includes concerts before, during, and after the race, but this time there’s a bit of a country twist to the acts. Starting the race downtown and trotting past the numerous Honky Tonks on Broadway just feels right, and the half weaves through some historic neighborhoods before returning downtown and sending runners over the Cumberland River to the finish. Then it’s a party with guitars and Nashville hot chicken. One of the most popular half marathons in the midwest. 

Aramco Half Marathon

Perhaps the best thing about Houston’s largest half marathon is just how flat it is. While many races boast about being “mostly flat” with “just a few rolling hills,” the Aramco Half’s total elevation change is only 20 feet from the highest to lowest parts of the course. That means that if you’re looking for a fast course or an easy course, this is a great choice. Avoid pounding your knees on a steep downhill or groaning through a nasty uphill slog. The Houston half cruises along AND since it usually falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, you’ll get to enjoy an extra day to recover before you head back to work. The most popular half marathons in Texas.

Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Half Marathon

The fourth (and certainly not last) Rock ‘n’ Roll race to feature on this list is the one hosted in Alamo City aka San Antonio. The winter race does a nice loop of the city before ending a few blocks from where it begins. While the race itself doesn’t pass directly in front of the Alamo itself, you’ll start and finish within blocks of the historic mission so you can get plenty of photos there with your medal after. And if that wasn’t great enough, you’ll also be near the city’s famed river walk so you can head over there for a few celebratory drinks. Enough tequila, and perhaps you won’t “remember the Alamo” after all. 

Philadelphia Half Marathon

“Hey Siri! Play the soundtrack for Rocky.” If you’re going to run a race in Philadelphia (preferably clad in a gray on gray sweat suit), then you’ve got to make a running playlist full of Rocky songs. The Philadelphia Half Marathon is a sightseer’s dream race. As you zig zag around the city, you’ll run past Independence Hall, the Delaware River (hi New Jersey), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Schuylkill River, which you need to pronounce with a Philly. Plus the race finishes near the Rocky Balboa statue and the steps he famously ran up while training, so you’ve got photo ops galore. 

Rock ‘n’ Roll Washington DC

Since DC’s massive Marine Corps Marathon doesn’t include a half-marathon option, the biggest half in the nation’s capital is Rock ‘n’ Roll’s DC race. Similar to the Philadelphia Half, this race is not lacking in historical attractions along the race course. Starting near the Washington Monument on the National Mall, runners will pass by The White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Potomac River before doing a big loop back to the finish line in front of the nation’s Capitol. The whole race won’t be nearly as grueling as running for office.

Lifetime Miami Half Marathon

Who wants to go island hopping? The Miami Half is a dream for anyone who loves sunshine and the beach. Set in downtown Miami, the race runs across a series of bridges to and from Miami Beach before taking a nice long stroll along the city’s waterfront. The course is lined with well wishers and palm trees as runners cruise to the finish on what is also a very flat course. This race can be a bit hot though, so make sure to drink plenty of water at the aid stations, especially if it’s on a hot year. And don’t forget to bring sunscreen.

Arizona Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

Our final Rock ‘n’ Roll Half on the list takes place in the Arizona desert outside Phoenix, Arizona. While running a race in a desert may seem daunting, it can’t be that bad if 9,000 people are doing it and there’s a party at the end. Plus as Arizonians always say “it’s a dry heat.” The race begins and ends in Tempe near the Arizona State University campus before crossing the river into a scenic section of Scottsdale. It then loops back through the Sonoran Desert landscape before crossing back over into Tempe and approaching the finish line. Watching the beautiful sunrise and taking home a shiny new medal should be plenty of motivation to keep going.

Pittsburgh Half Marathon

While running in Pittsburgh usually involves lots of agonizing hill climbs, the creators of the Pittsburgh Half have somehow managed to create a 13.1-mile-long course that stays relatively flat (something that cannot be said for the full version). Starting downton, the race gives you a tour of Pittsburgh’s many eclectic neighborhoods, taking you through the Strip District, the North Shore, and the South Side before finishing blocks from where you started. You’ll get plenty of great views of the city’s skyline and cross multiple bridges as you run along it’s three rivers. Afterwards you can head over to Primanti Brothers for a sandwich, Eat n Park for some cookies, or Sheetz for mozz sticks. If you’re a Wawa family, we don’t want to hear about it.

St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon

  • Location: Memphis, TN 

The 2023 Memphis Half is a bit mysterious at the moment. While the race date has been set, the event organizers are currently working on an overhaul of the course meaning that 2023’s runners will be embarking on a journey no one has ever run before. The race, proceeds of which go to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital, typically crisscrosses the Tennessee city along the Mississippi River, but where will the new course take runners? Perhaps across into Arkansas? Perhaps to the Memphis Zoo? If they really started on the outskirts of town, they could probably get runners to Mississippi itself. Keep your eyes peeled because big news could be coming any day now. 

Long Beach Half Marathon

In some of the least surprising news in the history of racing, those who sign up to run the Long Beach Half Marathon will spend much of their time running along the aforementioned Long Beach. The half, which takes place every year in a southern suburb of Los Angeles, is the west coast’s answer to the Miami Half. It is also a flat, easy course that provides plenty of gorgeous views while leading its runners to the finish line. A hat and some SPF 50 are a must for this run, but thanks to the temperate California weather, even when it’s sunny, it never gets too hot.

Austin Half Marathon

Austin natives may say “Keep Austin weird” but thankfully their half marathon isn’t doing anything that wild and outlandish. The race, which starts and ends downtown near the Texas State Capitol, ventures out into Austin’s diverse neighborhoods. The Austin Half is known for especially exuberant fans, so don’t be surprised to find houses along the course hosting parties in their front yard and offering runners a shot of tequila. While I might skip the mid-run booze, if you have a friend wait in line at Franklin Barbecue when you start the race, you might be just in time to grab a sandwich when you finish.

 

Flying Pig Half Marathon

No, the Flying Pig Half Marathon doesn’t really have anything to do with flying pigs (aside from a statue and Cincinnati’s history of being a pork producing city), but yes, your half marathon dreams can come true here. And if it’s creative name signifies anything about the race it’s how inventive it is. The course begins and ends in Ohio but crosses the Ohio River into Kentucky in the middle. The race organizers also offer Skyline Chili-themed medals for those who run a combination of the weekend’s races including the 5K, 10K, and Marathon. While Cincinnati isn’t necessarily a small town, this half has all the small town charm in all the best ways. 

What are the most popular half marathons?

While the United Airlines NYC Half has the most registrations with over 22,000 runners, there are half marathons like Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota that sell out of their limited spots every year.

Calendar of the Most Popular Half Marathons the United States

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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