The 12 Fastest Half Marathons in the United States

“It’s all downhill from here” may not be the best mantra for your job or relationship, but it’s a great one for your half marathon goals. Tapping into a little boost from gravity can lead you into your best personal half marathon time. While we’ll leave it to someone else to articulate exactly how gravity works, we’ll play to our strong suit by curating the ultimate list of the fastest half marathons you can run in 2023.

While running a downhill marathon is one of the best decisions you can make for your finishing time, be mindful of training for the race. Running downhill puts more stress on your quads and knees than running horizontally or uphill. 

Browse the races in order of the most significant elevation decrease from the starting point to the finish line.

Related: The World’s Fastest Marathon Courses

2024 Fastest Half Marathons Calendar

The REVEL Big Cottonwood, our fastest half marathon in 2023.
Photo courtesy REVEL Race Series

REVEL Big Cottonwood

  • Where: Salt Lake City, UT
  • Elevation Loss: 2,856 feet
  • When: September 14, 2024

The REVEL Race Series is notorious for its incredibly beautiful and fast downhill races. In fact, REVEL races are so fast that you’ll see a few of them on our list. 

REVEL Big Cottonwood drops nearly 3,000 feet in elevation. While an all-downhill race may be tough on your quads, the results for REVEL Big Cottonwood speak for themselves. When you choose to run REVEL Big Cottonwood, you aren’t only choosing to run the fastest race in Utah, but you’re signing up for a gorgeous race as well. The course carries you down scenic Big Cottonwood Canyon and through the most beautiful neighborhoods in the Salt Lake City area. 

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Photo by emptypokts .. on Unsplash

Cedar City Half Marathon

  • Where: Cedar City, UT
  • Elevation Loss: 2,357 feet
  • When: September 7, 2024

The Cedar City Half is a point-to-point half marathon in Cedar City, about 2.5 hours north of Las Vegas. The course is marked by tree-covered hills and red rock formations. This race is basically all downhill from the starting line until around mile ten, where it flattens out.

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Photo credit REVEL Race Series

REVEL Mt. Charleston

  • Where: Las Vegas, NV
  • Elevation Loss: 2,015 feet
  • When: March 2, 2024

REVEL Mt. Charleston in Las Vegas gives you an opportunity to notch a personal record along a gorgeous downhill descent from the mountains to the city. 

The race takes runners through Kyle Canyon, marked with other-wordly green brush against a mountainous backdrop, and finishes in the beautiful Centennial Hills neighborhood at the Thunderbird Family Sports Complex. This race is the perfect opportunity to not only enjoy the Entertainment Capital of the World, but also to escape the hubbub and enjoy Nevada’s scenic natural landscape. 

Register today for REVEL Mt Charleston using code HALF10 for $10 off of your registration! 

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Photo credit REVEL Race Series

REVEL Rockies

  • Where: Denver, CO
  • Elevation Loss: 1,693 feet
  • When: June 1, 2024

We love REVEL races,  especially since they are not only great for achieving a personal best, but they also reign supreme in terms of the sheer beauty of their courses. 

REVEL Rockies is no exception. Like all REVEL Races, REVEL Rockies is a Boston Qualifying race (if you’re courageous enough to run the full marathon)! Starting high in the breathtaking Rocky Mountains and finishing in the foothills of the city of Denver, this race is sure to be your new favorite in Colorado. 

Register today for REVEL Rockies using code HALF10 for $10 off of your registration!

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The Jack & Jill Downhill Marathon one of the fastest half marathons in the United States.
Photo credit Jack & JIll’s Downhill Marathon

Jack & Jill’s Downhill Half Marathon

  • Where: North Bend, WA
  • Elevation Loss: 1,284 feet
  • When: July 28, 2024

The Jack & Jill’s Half Marathon is the fastest half marathons in Washington. It takes place on one of Washington’s most scenic trails, the John Wayne Trail, and annually hosts about 250 runners for the half marathon. 

Need some evidence of the course’s sheer speed? In 2017, over 25% of the full marathon participants qualified for the Boston Marathon.

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Veronia Half Marathon one of the fastest half marathons in the UNited States.
Courtesy Oregon Road Runners Club

Veronia Half Marathon

  • Where: Veronia, OR
  • Elevation Loss: 967 feet
  • When: April 14, 2024

The ORCC Veronia Half Marathon runs its course along a rails-to-trails tree-lined paved and gravel trail through Oregon’s picturesque woodlands. While the back half of the race is relatively flat (only 50 feet of elevation loss), from mile 1 to mile 7, you’ll experience an entire 1,000 foot drop. A great, fast west coast half marathon!

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Photo courtesy Marquette Half Marathon

Marquette Half Marathon

  • Where: Marquette, MI
  • Elevation Loss: 723 feet
  • When: August 31, 2024

Wide paved pathways and park roads alongside wooded forests cooled by the breezes of Lake Superior shape the landscape of the Marquette Marathon. The course follows the Iron Ore Heritage Trail, a 47-mile-long trail hugging the Marquette Iron Range. 

If you’re looking for a race attraction beyond your finishing time, the race expo is held in the Superior Dome, “the world’s largest wooden dome” that also serves as the stadium for Northern Michigan University.

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Photo credit P’tit Train du Nord

P’tit Train du Nord 

  • Where: Quebec, CA
  • Elevation Loss: 721 feet
  • When: October 5, 2024

A bonus: the only half marathon outside of the United States to make our list! 

The race has been described by some runners as “so downhill, it’s basically cheating.” It’s also been affectionately referred to as “the knee destroyer.” It’s a unique point-to-point course surrounded by nature with spectacular portions of the race run through lush greens, over narrow bridges, and surrounded by pristine reflective ponds.

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Photo by Ilse Orsel on Unsplash

Lake Powell Half Marathon

  • Where: Page, AZ
  • Elevation Loss: 633 feet
  • When: October 12, 2024

Runners who love desert and lake views that extend for miles will love the Lake Powell Half Marathon, which leads runners on a point-to-point course from Page, Arizona to the marina at the Arizona-Utah border. 

The steady downhill of the course is not so severe to strain your quads, but it still offers enough of a decline to help race to your personal best. Lake Powell is part of the Vacation Races series, which takes runners on half marathons near the most popular and beautiful national parks in the United States.

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Photo courtesy 3M Half Marathon

3M Half Marathon

  • Where: Austin, TX
  • Elevation Loss: 325 feet
  • When: January 19, 2025

No matter what time of year you run in Texas, it will be warm, but  January is still a relatively safe bet.  In Austin, January temps reach the low 60s at the warmest. 

The 3M Half Marathon brings together 7,000 racers down the city streets toward the finish line at the Texas State Capitol. From mile 8 to mile 10, there’s a slight incline, but the course is all downhill otherwise. The value of a half marathon in Austin—as compared with another in a mountainous region like Utah or Colorado— race both starts and ends at an elevation closer to sea level: which, if you’re not training at altitude, is very important.

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Colorado Half Marathon

  • Where: Fort Collins, CO
  • Elevation Loss: 311 feet
  • When: April 14, 2024

The Colorado Half Marathon has a long, fast, and almost entirely downhill course, winding through the foothills of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains to the city of Fort Collins. The route is fast and scenic as runners descend through the Northern Front Range over 13.1 miles. 

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Photo courtesy The Rogue Half Marathon

The Rogue Half Marathon 

  • Where: Medford, OR
  • Elevation Loss: 300 feet
  • When: October 12, 2024

Runners will spend nearly all their time during the race on the pathway known as the Bear Creek Greenway in Oregon’s Rogue River Valley. The Rogue River is a 215-mile river from the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean known for its salmon runs, whitewater rafting, and rugged scenery. The race begins at 1,500 feet and drops 300 feet gradually over the 13.1 miles.

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Running The Fastest Half Marathons

While you’ll be pleased at the end of your race when you shave between 1 and 10 minutes off your previous best, running downhill requires training. Descents require runners to pay attention to a forward lean in their running form as well as put pressure on the knee and quad to stabilize. Before considering running one of these fastest half marathons, ask a running coach or your doctor how to best prepare.

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