If you’re just getting into running, you’re probably discovering your races through friends, neighbors, baristas, and strangers on the street. That’s also why you’re reading this. There’s a lot of properly rated spring half marathons. From New York to Boston to Chicago – they’re all great and properly reviewed as such.
But in this day and age, we’re all obsessed with hidden gems and finding a bargain. These half marathon recommendations are a few races that fly below the radar. But they deserve much more credit, popularity, and praise than they receive.
OC Marathon. May 5, 2024 | Costa Mesa, CA
2024 marks the 20th anniversary of the OC Marathon. In case you’ve been living under a rock, The OC Marathon consistently makes it to the top of our “best” lists. Why? Most of us don’t live in places like Costa Mesa. We don’t get to experience the splendor of the Pacific Ocean, the rocky cliff sides of Newport Bay or the mega-mansions and yacht clubs of Southern California. Some races will give a taste of some of those, seldom do you find one that gives you all with exceptional race production and a finish festival to boot.
Eugene Half Marathon. April 28, 2024 | Eugene, OR
Eugene, Oregon has a special place in the hearts of track and field athletes as the home of the University of Oregon. While the University of Oregon currently breeds the most successful Olympic track and field athletes, it also was home to Bill Bowerman for 24 years – one of the co-founders of Nike. There are 4,000 runners for the half marathon and 10,000 total compete in the full, half and 5K. Most reviews cite the race finish at Hayward Field as the most special part. This is one of the best spring half marathons you can find in the country.
Bank of America Chicago 13.1. June 9, 2024 | Chicago, IL
The Bank of America Chicago 13.1 is the newest half marathon in the Windy City from the producers of the Abbott World Marathon Major Chicago Marathon. Read: this race is a well-oiled machine. What we love so much about it is it’s unapologetic celebration of west Chicago. Only in the last few years has the old warehouse and industrial neighborhood turned into the cultural and culinary capital of Chicago.
Rotterdam Marathon. April 14, 2024 | Rotterdam, Netherlands
While we usually don’t cover half marathons outside of the United States, we found the Rotterdam Marathon got more “underrated” accolades than many others. The race is described as a “fast, flat course with a very festive atmosphere” and the crowd energy has been compared to that of the Chicago Marathon (which has a ton of energy). Also, the race begins running over the Erasmus Bridge which looks right out of a science fiction novel.
Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon. June 21, 2024 | Duluth, MN
Duluth is famously home to all American things – the Duluth Trading Company and Grandma’s Half Marathon. Now in it’s 47th year, the half marathon is named after Garry Bjorklund an Olympic Track & Field athlete who set the Minnesota state record for the mile which lasted 39 years. With the Grandma’s event you can expect a crowd – more than 7,000 runners participate in the half marathon and an additional 9,000 participate in the full marathon. That’s about a 20% increase of the year round population of Duluth that come just for this race. Another one of our picks for the best spring half marathons in the United States.
The Flying Pig Half Marathon. May 5, 2024 | Cincinnati, OH
Race organizers have touted for years that the Flying Pig Half Marathon might be the most popular for first-time marathon and half marathon runners. While welcome to runners of all skill levels, the race is hilly. Between the fifth and the eighth mile, you’ll experience 300 feet of elevation gain. But, with 40,000 other runners by your side, the crowds will help sustain you through the thirteen miles.
Glass City Half Marathon. April 28, 2024 | Toledo, OH
Only three hours away from Cincinnati is Toledo where you’ll find the Glass City Half Marathon. The name is derived from Toledo’s own nickname which came as it was the center of glass production for the automotive industry. More than 4,000 runners take part in the half marathon and it’s been touted for its organization, good crowd support, and supportive city vibe. The race is an out and back and has a majestic finish at Glass Bowl Stadium, home of the University of Toledo football team.
Bayshore Half Marathon. May 25, 2024 | Traverse City, MI
The Bayshore Half Marathon takes place on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend and has been reviewed as “absolutely beautiful.” Traverse City sits nestled into Grand Traverse Bay along Lake Michigan. Only 2,700 runners, the Bayshore Half is smaller than the other underrated half marathons but packs a winning combination of beautiful sights and beautiful weather to make it onto our list.
Vienna City Half Marathon. April 21, 2024 | Vienna, Austria
Ok, we do have another non-United States half marathon that makes the list. We’ve found that the Berlin Marathon receives a lot of attention and praise. Not just because it’s an Abbott World Major, but also because of its notoriously flat course many half marathon and marathon world records have been set there. However, the fastest marathon that’s been run in human history (Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-2 hour marathon) was run in Vienna due to its ideal running conditions. We’re also a sucker for a race that starts on a bridge which is exactly what this race gives you with it’s starting line on the most famous bridge in Vienna, the Reichsbrücke.
Pittsburgh Half Marathon. May 5, 2024 | Pittsburgh, PA
Toledo is known for its glass and Pittsburgh is known for its rivers and steel. The race is mostly flat and will take you across the confluence of the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monogahela Rivers. In case you’re unfamiliar, Pittsburgh is home to 446 bridges but luckily on this course you’ll only get exposure to the most popular three. There are some uphill stretches in the back half of the course, but not so significant that it isn’t welcome to first time runners.
Avenue of the Giants Half Marathon. May 5, 2024 | Weott, CA
There are a few sites in the United States that will help you feel like a speck of dust in the universe. The Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, and the Redwoods in Northern California. Lucky for you, there’s a half marathon that will take you right through the awe inspiring terrain. The course itself is hilly and more challenging than the others on the list, so don’t expect to PB, but do expect to BA (be amazed!).
Picking a Spring Half Marathon
Most of the popular half marathons are in the fall as they account for 8 to 20 weeks of training through moderate and warm weather of the spring and summer. But, if you can stomach the cold weather training, running a spring half marathon will add years to your running acumen. If you live in a moderate climate, you can eye any race between March and May. If you live in colder weather, it makes more sense to target April and May just in case the winter season disrupts consistent training.