Alton Half Marathon & 5K

Saturday, March 20, 2021 • Alton, IL • Course Map

Note: The 2021 race has been cancelled.

The land known as the “Riverbend Region” of southwestern Missouri — where the big, wide rivers of the Missouri, Illinois and the Mississippi come together — is the setting for the Alton Half Marathon, which is set for its 10th annual running this year along a course that hugs the riverbank of the Mississippi.

From the starting line at Alton’s Riverfront Park — which lies just a few blocks from the offices of the Alton Telegraph newspaper, the race’s organizer and sponsor — runners head out on an out-and-back course that keeps them in view of the waters of the Mississippi flowing by for nearly the entire race.

Some of the race’s most scenic views are expected in the early going, when runners cross the Clark Bridge over the river and head into Missouri.

Once across the river, the route then turns onto Riverlands Way and brings runners around the edges of the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, a 3,700-acre wetlands area and natural preserve that is home to a wide range of rare migratory birds, waterfowl and raptors throughout the year.

Once runners reach the turnaround point along Riverlands Way before reaching the intersection with Red School Road, they then head back along the route they’ve just run, and back across the bridge into Illinois for the second half of the route.

The next section unfolds as a long, out-and-back stretch, first out along Berm Highway and then back, after the turn at Lock and Dam Way, on the bike path along the levee, the Madison County Transit Confluence Trail.

Runners then meet back up with Boat Launch Road after crossing under the bridge, and then make their way back into Riverfront Park for the race finish. Walkers are welcome to take part in the race, organizers add, as long as they can maintain at least a 16-minute-per-mile pace; the course will close after 3 3/4 hours.

The Clark Bridge over the Mississippi River in Alton, Illinois. (Photo by Paul Sableman/flickr)

The Clark Bridge over the Mississippi River in Alton, Illinois. (Photo by Paul Sableman/flickr)

Race Weather & Climate

Nestled along a bend in the mighty Mississippi River here in the southwestern corner of Illinois, just over 20 miles north of downtown St. Louis, Mo., Alton typically sees cool and occasionally quite cold weather in March, when average monthly temperatures range between 55°F and 36°F.

On the day of the race (March 20), the average low is 37°F and the average high is 56°F.

Past Results

Course Map

See the race route map for the Alton Half Marathon here.

Starting Time

  • 8:00 AM – half marathon
  • 8:10 AM – 5K


  • $50 – $80 for the half marathon
  • $15 – $35 for the 5K


To reserve your spot in the 2020 running of the Alton Half Marathon or 5K race, visit the event website below.

Official Race Website


Ever run in the Alton Half Marathon? Share your impressions here, or post your review in the Comments below.

See more races in: March, Illinois

4 comments… add one
  • Dianne Sutcliffe January 19, 2021, 6:22 pm

    Is there a half marathon this March 20 2021 in Alton I’ll???

  • Bob Reagan March 7, 2016, 12:28 pm

    The link above to the race map has the elevation information. The only mistake I saw is that the elevation over the bridge was wrong – It show’s the elevation of the River itself, not the bridge. The course is paved for the most part.
    I ran last year’s Alton 1/2. It was my first 1/2. I loved it. I really love to connect with the River. The race help me do that.
    Like stated above, I love this race because it’s not a Zoo of people. Finally, to you’re last question. I believe you have 3 1/2 hours to finish. A 15 min mile would be a good max time to shoot for.

  • Terrell Johnson January 9, 2015, 12:26 pm

    From the old version of the site, here’s what one runner (Andrea Robertson Welsh) had to say about the 2011 Alton Half: “I ran it last year. It was unseasonably cold that day and running by the river is always windy, but I had a great time and the course is very cool, especially running over the river back to the IL. side. The Alton riverfront is an awesome scene no matter the weather. It was a very powerful feeling to run over the river like that. Also, the Alton 1/2 is a cheaper alternative to some of the more expensive Go runs in STL. It all depends what you are into, I guess. If you like throngs of people and the city scene, STL runs are the way to go. Runs like the Alton 1/2 are for those who enjoy a quieter route and more natural surroundings. And parking was great. My personal cheering section didn’t even have to get out of the van to see me finish, they were able to park right by the finish line. It is also nice to do a run that benefits a local program that encourages kids to read. I am looking forward to the Alton 1/2 again this year!”

    • Sandy January 20, 2015, 12:23 pm

      Hi Terrell, Can you tell us a little about the course? Flat, hilly, paved, gravel, etc. Can a person run/walk? What about the finishing time. I’m not a fast runner. What if I don’t finish in 3 hours?


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