5 Half Marathons Worth A Road Trip

June 28, 2018

With summer fast approaching, race schedules are being locked into place.  Keeping a few weekends open for a road trip or two just might be worth it when throwing in the goal of running a half marathon. While some races offer cash prizes for top winners, all of these events will reward participants with spectacular courses and post-race festivities after crossing the finish line.

Mammoth Half Marathon – Mammoth Lakes, CA, Sunday, June 17, 2018

Beginning in Northern California’s High Sierras at roughly 9,000 feet above sea level, this race follows a route that runs along a combination of trails and mountain roads — including a stretch around Lake Mary and across the Waterford Bridge. Runners follow a point-to-point course in the shadow of nearby Mammoth Mountain, which starts at Horseshoe Lake and finishes along Old Mammoth Road, next to the Sierra Nevada Resort and Spa. If you’re looking to set a new PR, a net loss of 1,131 feet on this course will probably be your best bet. For more information, visit halfmarathons.net.

Dirty Half Marathon – Bend, OR, Sunday, June 10, 2018

Join some serious dirt fanatics in the high desert of Central Oregon. Known for its single track, Bend is home to some infamous trail systems. Runners will traverse the Phil’s Trail area just west of Bend, with a net elevation gain of approximately 1,000 feet, and wind their way through this network of mountain biking trails. Lodge pole and ponderosa pine trees make up this recreation area, whose founder was honored by becoming the namesake of Deschutes Brewery’s Phil’s Trail Pale Ale.  While runners will no doubt finish with a little extra dirt on their shoes, post race festivities always include beer from Deschutes Brewery and hearty breakfast fare from local businesses. For more information, visit footzonebend.com.

The Orca Half – Seattle, WA, Sunday, September 23, 2018

Head to Seattle in the fall for the Orca Half Marathon. Photo: Gameface

If you’re a fan of the big city, the Orca Half in Seattle might become a favorite. With a course that skirts the shores of West Seattle starting at Lincoln Park and finishing at Don Armeni Boat Launch, runners will be treated to views of downtown Seattle, Blake Island, Vashon Island and Puget Sound. Benefitting the Whale Trail, a Seattle-based non-profit dedicated to inspiring appreciation and stewardship of whales, you can rest assured you’re running for a great cause. Finishers will receive a custom finisher’s medal, along with pies from the Alki Pie Company for the top three male and female finishers in each age group. For more information, visit orcahalf.com.

Spokane Half – Spokane, WA, Sunday, October 14, 2018

This late fall half marathon starts in the heart of downtown Spokane at Riverfront Park, and heads west along the Centennial Trail winding near the Spokane River. Runners will cross over the river at the T.J. Meenach Bridge on route to the Doomsday Hill since it gains 120 feet of elevation in less than three quarters of a mile. Runners will climb a total of almost 900 feet throughout the 13.1-mile course, but the scenic river views are worth it. All finishers will receive a custom medal, technical shirt and awards that will go to the top three finishers in each age group. All runners will enjoy post race festivities with free pizza and finisher photos. For more information, visit thespokanemarathon.com.

Bozeman Half -Bozeman, MT, Sunday, September 9, 2018

A drive through Big Sky country in early fall will take your breath away, so why not make the trip to Bozeman for a running adventure? Home to the Montana State Bobcats, this mountainous college town has magnificent running in just about every direction. Half marathon runners will begin south of town near the entrance to Hyalite Canyon and continue through Bozeman’s country roads towards downtown. The course is predominantly downhill and runs past farmland with the Bridger Mountains in the background. Runners will be treated to a post-race party on Main Street at the finish. For more information, visit bozemanmarathon.com.

About the Author

Amy Clark is a writer, ultrarunner and RaceCenter’s copy editor, living in Bend, Oregon. With a knack for finding her way around in running shoes, Amy has finished numerous marathons including Boston. In an attempt to balance work and life while raising twins, she is currently training for her next ultra. Follow her @amywrites.

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