“If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.” — John Bingham
“There are as many reasons for running as there are days in the year, years in my life. But mostly I run because I am an animal and a child, an artist and a saint. So, too, are you. Find your own play, your own self-renewing compulsion, and you will become the person you are meant to be.” — George Sheehan
Rising Fawn, Ga. • Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019
A stunning run deep into one of the most beautiful places in Georgia, the 3,500-acre Cloudland Canyon State Park — home “to thousand-foot deep canyons, sandstone cliffs, wild caves, waterfalls, cascading creeks, dense woodland and abundant wildlife.” You’ll run down inside its canyons for many of your miles, passing by waterfalls as you run over hills and alongside streams throughout. As the organizers say, “we can not reiterate how beautiful this course is!”
$75 and up • Sign up here
“I’m not saying don’t dream or be willing to work hard. But keep things simple, effective, and within your means. Part of working hard is having the discipline to know when enough is enough. Grow your capabilities over time, not suddenly two months before a big race.” — Meb Keflezighi
St. George, Utah • Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020
Run through a place sometimes called “Utah’s Dixie” at the 38th annual running of this race, which takes runners along scenic paved city trails that unfold alongside the Virgin River. (The nickname has stuck thanks to the area’s warm climate and a failed effort by Brigham Young to grow cotton here in the 1860’s.) Along the looping route, which is filled with twists and turns in the stretches closest to the river, you’ll take in views of red bluffs that look out over the northern part of the city, as well as the edge of the Mojave Desert to the south and Zion National Park off in the distance, and the peaks of the nearby Pine Valley Mountains.
$60 and up • Sign up here
Moab, Utah • Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020
The second in a series of Moab-area trail races known as the “Triple Crown of Moab,” this race unfolds along the southern edge of Utah’s stunningly beautiful Arches National Park, where you’ll get to take in views of towering red rock formations like those in the photo above, as well as the snow-covered peaks of the La Sal Mountains off in the distance. Organizers say the trails are “smooth and easy at points, technical slick rock at others, and there’s even some sand [along the route] to shake things up.” The race starts at about 4,600 feet above sea level and reaches a peak of about 4,770 feet, so while the elevation is high, the climbs aren’t overly challenging.
$95 and up • Sign up here
Washington, Utah • Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020
A gorgeous run through southern Utah’s “color country,” known for its brilliant blue skies and red rock formations, as well as its mild winter climate. From the starting line along Utah’s Old Highway 91, where you’ll begin the race surrounded by red-colored mountains and desert cactus, the race then unfolds through a neighborhood known as Coral Canyon, a roughly 2,600-acre planned community that’s home to a golf course, a number of parks and outdoor green spaces. Later, you’ll run on paved trails through an area known as Hell’s Canyon and a make a steep descent toward the Virgin River, where you’ll run along the boardwalk for a stretch and later cross the finish line at the Staheli Family Farm.
$50 and up • Sign up here
Veyo, Utah • Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020
Perhaps best known for the dramatic natural landscapes of nearby Snow Canyon State Park — whose tall, red rock bluffs tower over the surrounding desert — this half marathon follows a mostly downhill route along Old Highway 91 that starts just south of Utah’s Gunlock Reservoir and finishes in Santa Clara, a suburb of nearby St. George. You’ll get to take in stunning views of southwestern Utah’s canyons, red rock formations and the Santa Clara River as you run, along a course that drops about 480 feet from the starting line (about 3,388 feet) to the finish line (about 2,907 feet).
$75 and up • Sign up here
Springdale, Utah • Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020
An awe-inspiring run right up to the edge of Utah’s Zion National Park, whose mesas, mountains, waterfalls, streams, canyons, caves and red rock formations of nearly every size offer some of the country’s most stunning vistas and views, both from high above the rocks and down below in the canyons. You’ll start this point-to-point race in nearby Virgin, a tiny town of just a few hundred residents, and from there run east toward Springdale, climbing some 400 feet along the way.
$145 and up • Sign up here
Hurricane, Utah • Saturday, March 7, 2020
Set for its 10th annual running next year under the wide-open, brilliant blue skies of southwestern Utah, this race offers up a course that one reviewer described this way: “if you want rock bands and spectators, this isn’t for you. But if you want unbelievable views in a rural setting, this is great!” Run at a time of the year when temperatures should be perfect for running — around the mid-50s — the race starts and finishes in Hurricane, a city of about 13,000 that lies about 20 minutes from nearby St. George, Utah, and about a two-hour drive from the closest big city, Las Vegas. And if you’re up for sightseeing after the race, Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks lie a short drive from here.
$55 and up • Sign up here
American Fork, Utah • Saturday, June 20, 2020
A gorgeous and mostly downhill half marathon through Utah’s American Fork Canyon, where you’ll run your first seven miles along the Alpine Loop Scenic Highway, one of the Beehive State’s most beautiful roads. Starting from just below 7,000 feet above sea level at the Tibble Fork Reservoir up in the Wasatch Mountains, you’ll run in the shadow of the majestic Mount Timpanogos down the Alpine Loop toward the city, where you’ll then run through neighborhoods and along the edges of a golf course, before turning onto American Fork’s trail system for the final mile. Proceeds from the race go toward helping cancer patients in the local area with treatments and related expenses. As one reader wrote to us, “I do it every year. It means so much to me that I can run in honor of family members who have had cancer.”
$80 and up • Sign up here
Eden, Utah • Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020
Described by its race organizers as “punishing, unforgiving,” and yet “ridiculously beautiful,” this race is all that and more — with some 1,900 feet of elevation climb in just the first three miles of the half marathon route, which organizers say is a half marathon “plus one,” meaning it’s 14.1 miles instead of 13.1. The race takes runners along what is known as the Ben Lemond and Skyline trails, which climb up the mountains here in the northernmost part of Utah through a series of switchbacks, twisting and turning along the dirt trails within the Cache National Forest, looking out onto Salt Lake City to the south and the mountains of southern Idaho to the north.
$85 and up • Sign up here
Moab, Utah • Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020
Rising red mesas and awe-inspiring canyons provide the backdrop for this race that used to be called “The Other Half,” but now is named for the famed Arches National Park just north of Moab, where you can see some of the most stunning rock formations in the world. From the starting line at the historic Dewey Bridge, runners follow the path of the Colorado River, along paved roads with gorgeous views of the surrounding terrain, including prominent landmarks like the eroded sandstone Fisher Towers, the towering spires of Castle Valley and the peaks of the La Sal Mountains in the distance.
$85 and up | Sign up here
St. George, Utah • Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020
Surrounded by red rock cliffs and sand dunes that tower over the desert floor, the trails and roads within southwestern Utah’s Snow Canyon State Park are the scenery for this breathtaking half, which Runner’s World has called one of North America’s best. The point-to-point route starts at the trailhead for the Red Mountain Trail, one of more than 30 miles of trails within the 7,400-acre park, and from there it follows a mostly downhill route along Snow Canyon Drive. Throughout the course, you’ll run through a place where “majestic views and the subtle interplay of light, shadow, and color dancing across canyon walls evoke strong emotional responses from visitors.”
$60 and up • Sign up here
Moab, Utah • Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020
One of Utah’s most popular races — organizers say the “canyons around Moab are unlike anywhere in the world, and this course conquers some of the most spectacular” — the Moab Trail Half actually is two half marathons, one on Saturday and one on Sunday, both of which run along the same course. You’ll run through Pritchett Canyon, a place filled with stunningly gorgeous red rocks and sheer canyon walls, and then climb up Kane Creek Road before your descent onto the hard-packed single-track trails along the creek. There’ll be a few sections that take you through knee-deep water (which may be higher, depending on the weather before race day) but the views make it all worth it.
Signup opens March 2020
Monument Valley, Utah • November
One of the most awe-inspiring (and most photographed) places in America, this desert region along the Arizona-Utah border is filled with towering sandstone buttes, some of which stand more than 1,000 feet high. You’ll get to take it all in at this stunning race, which organizers say will unfold “through some dramatic, rarely seen landscapes” in the Monument Valley backcountry, along a combination of dirt Jeep roads and sandy trails. The race takes place inside the Navajo Nation’s 91,000-acre Monument Valley Tribal Park, at just over 5,500 feet above sea level — so be ready for a high-elevation race.
Key West, Fla. • April
Timed to coincide with the “World’s Longest Parade” — which rolls down Key West’s famed Duval Street, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico right after the last runners cross the finish line — this race also is part of the “Conch Republic Independence Celebration,” a 10-day festival filled with parties, sailing events (including one to Havana, Cuba), parades and races, all of which you’re encouraged to wear a costume to. It’s an early evening race that starts at 7:00 p.m.
St. Augustine, Fla. • Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019
When you run the streets of this coastal Florida city, youll run through the oldest part of American history there is — St. Augustine was reached as early as 1513 by the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon, and was officially founded in 1565 by Pedro Menendez de Aviles, another Spanish explorer. All of that will be on display as runners make their way through the streets of its historic downtown and across the Matanzas River (twice), including a stretch along the edges of Anastasia State Park and past the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, a military fort that was built in the 1670s and once was part of the Spanish empire, helping to protect the treasure ships that set sail from here on their return to Spain.
$79 and up • Sign up here »
Daufuskie Island, S.C. | Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020
A magical run on the island pictured above, accessible only by ferry and whose isolation from the mainland helped preserve its Gullah culture and language for more than a century. Most of the island remains undeveloped today, and you’ll get to see much of it along a combination of paved and unpaved road that snake along the coastline and into the island’s interior. You’ll have your choice of running 13.1, 26.2 or 39.3 miles — the half marathon runs the loop route once, the full marathon twice and the ultra three times — but this isn’t a race to run to record a fast time. You want to soak in the feel, the sights and the sounds of it all.
$110 and up | Sign up here
Auburn, Calif. • Saturday, June 29, 2019
When it began in the mid-1950s, this now-legendary trail run was actually a horseback trail ride along the Western States Trail through California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. In the 1970s, the first runners attempted it and this now-legendary race was born, a run with stretches through snowpack as well as through scorching heat and sun, as you’ll climb more than 18,000 feet and descend more than 20,000 feet during the course of your 100 miles. It’s among the world’s most sought-after ultra races, as more than 5,000 aspirants applied for its 369 spots last year.
$410 • Entry process here
Leadville, Colo. • Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019
This legendary race through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains is known as the “Race Across the Sky,” for its stunningly beautiful — and daunting — out-and-back course that climbs up to 12,600 feet above sea level at Hope Pass, its highest point. First run back in 1983, the race was founded as a way to draw interest from tourists — when a Leadville hospital administrator was told about race co-founder Kenneth Chlouber’s plans for the event and reportedly said to him, “You’re crazy! You’ll kill someone!” Chlouber is said to have responded, “Well, then we will be famous, won’t we?”
$335 • Entry process here
La Grange, Wis. • Saturday, May 11, 2019
It’s been called one of America’s most scenic trail races by Trail Runner magazine, thanks in large part to its location along the Ice Age Trail, which was formed by the receding of the Wisconsin glacier some 13,000 years ago. Today it’s part of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, a place filled with 18,000 acres of forests, ponds, marshes, and wide-open prairies, where the magazine says you’ll find “a supremely runnable course,” with “rolling, smooth single track [trail] that will challenge runners without breaking them.”
$85 – $100 • Sign up here
Clackamas Lake, Ore. • Saturday, July 13, 2019
Run on the heavily-shaded Pacific Crest Trail — made famous for most of us in Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 book Wild — in the shadow of nearby Mount Hood, this race is considered an ideal run for your first 50-miler, thanks to its pair of out-and-back stretches that split up the run into smaller, more manageable chunks. In addition to the 50-miler, the race also offers the 50K and 25K distances. “It’s also not too much climbing and is nestled in the forests for most of the race,” running coach Yassine Doubin told Trail Runner.
$125 – $140 • Entry wait list here
Silverton, Colo. • Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019
“If you are into big mountains, big, expansive views, big climbs, and big descents you will LOVE this course,” say the organizers of this summertime run through southwestern Colorado’s largest mountain range, where you’ll climb and descend nearly 17,000 feet on single-track trails in the San Juan National Forest. You’ll also run along parts of the Colorado Trail and through the Animas River Gorge, and you’ll be able to choose between the 100K and 55K distances.
$125 – $225 • Sign up here
Morganton, N.C. • Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019
With a 50K and a 30K that start in Morganton’s Steele Creek Park and take you through the Pisgah National Forest to the top of majestic Table Rock, this ultra is far from the easiest ultra you’ll find, as it features some 7,000 feet of elevation gain. But the rewards are worth it, as you’ll cross over creeks and hop over rocks on your way to the panoramic view you’ll discover at the summit.
$75 – $100 • Sign up here
Boonsboro, Md. • Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019
A race with a long and storied history — this year marks its 57th annual running — this ultra will take you along miles-long stretches of the Appalachian Trail as well as portions of the C&O Canal Towpath, which features gently rolling terrain that leads you in to the finish line in the nearby town of Williamsport. The AT sections are its longest and toughest, with plenty of rocky terrain along mountain ridges and stretches with steep switchbacks that drop more than 1,000 feet. You’ll gain more than 1,100 feet during the course of the race, and you’ll have 13 hours to complete it.
$200 and up • Sign up here
I received a notice last night from the operator of the website that provides our half marathon course maps (like the one in the photo above), that Google Maps has begun charging for the use of their map data, and that they’ll need to begin charging us to use them as well.
Now that daylight savings time has started, reflective gear is more and more important for runners in the morning. It is the runner’s duty to stay lit up when running in the dark.