If I had to pick 3 phrases to sum up this race, they would be 1) awesome, 2) medal, and 3) ‘awesome medal).
Seriously - the medal is huge and over-the-top incredible!
Plus, this race is special in so many ways: a lipstick stop before the finish line, a ‘VIP Perks’ option for the best post-race food ever, and even Governor Asa Hutchinson greets runners as they go by the Governors Mansion!
If you are a ‘back of the packer’ like me, this is an incredible first run. They offer an early start and pacers through 8 hours so you will get to the finish line
I had no idea running around a lake 8 times could be so much fun, but this small marathon is so special thanks to the amazing people! Not only are their aid stations every mile, but quite a few times volunteers walked the opposite direction of the course with snacks too! Plus, this race takes place on a Friday so how often can you skip work to run?? And it is flat! Huge PR course!
I will admit I only made it to ~ mile 18 on this course, but I enjoyed this race so much I had to include it on my list! It takes place in Barrington, Nova Scotia, and the town truly welcomes all runners! It is a small race and you can even stay in a tent at the start line the night before - talk about convenience! This race also does an incredible job tracking runners and driving by with water, supplies or a ride back to the finish. One really special aspect of this race is in addition to the many aid stations, they also allow you to drop off your own drinks/snacks which are delivered to the aid stations of your choice!
For someone who loves traveling and running, there are few better ways to start the year than by running with people from over 50 countries right at midnight. This series offers a marathon, half marathon, or 1/4 marathon option, and is a looping course. For the first loop there is the incredible sound of fireworks ringing in the new year. Loops begin inside of a sports hall and the ‘fans’ are truly wonderful cheering everyone on. And the coolest part - because it is the first race of the year, you can claim for a few hours being the x fastest runner in the world!
A race series so special it appears three times on my list! The half marathon starts and ends inside the Fargodome - one of the best race starts and finishes I’ve ever experienced! Aside from the incline the few feet leaving the dome, this course is flat! Hello PR course! If you participate in the 5k the night before, you qualify for an extra ’combo challenge’ medal. In addition to some truly great medals over the years, this race is known for its swag! The sweatshirts they give are perhaps my most favorite and comfortable sweatshirts I own, and they also give out an extremely high quality drawstring backpack.
When I was looking for ‘back of the pack’ friendly half marathons, this race in Kansas showed up. I’d never been to Kansas, so the chance to add in the state and a race was perfect for me! Abilene’s claim to fame is that it is the hometown and resting place of President Eisenhower, and houses his Presidential Library. The night before the race the ‘church ladies’ put on a free pasta dinner and sell the most delicious slices of cake! The race is on a beautiful rural course. The course can be done for a second time for the full marathon. It’s a great small town race and community with a big heart!
A running series that is all about girl power and glam! Pre-race you receive a tutu, before you get to the finish line you get a tiara and feather boa, and once you cross the finish line you get wine! There is a 5k and Half Marathon option. I have run this series on Long Island NY, Galveston TX, Toronto - Canada, and Calgary - Canada. Through this race series I have been able to meet some truly incredible women who inspire and motivate me!
My current PR course by 2 minutes! The race starts with a fireworks show, and runs through different historical and beautiful parts of the city. For history buffs in Buffalo, one unique place you’ll pass on this course is where a Teddy Roosevelt was inaugurated!
My first half marathon! As a back-of-the-packer (who admittedly did no real training), I had no idea what to expect of my first half marathon. I picked Little Rock as my first because they offered pacers through 4 hours and celebrate all of their finishes, no matter their pace. I joined a 3 hr 30 min group and the pacers taught me about the walk/run method and helped me learn my rhythm. The people of Little Rock are incredible, especially over race weekend. I was especially impressed with the churches offering Sunday communion and even a ‘holy water blessing station’ along the course! If you run this race (or the full marathon) and either the 5k or 10k the day before, you’ll receive a special combo medal.
This all-women race is all about celebrating the strength of women. This was one of the most encouraging race environments I have ever been in - all of the runners quickly felt like a group of friends. There were over 6000 women participating on this looping course around Central Park. Plus, it is a 9+1 NYRR race for entry into the NYC Marathon!
RaceAwesome is a running company based on Long Island NY that believes in happiness and ‘awesomeness’ through running. They celebrate every single finisher. I’ve participated in several of their races before and was nervous about being the last finisher for this race, but they assured me they would wait for me and they did! This particular race series offers a 5k or 10k (two loops) option and is run at night! Headlamps (and excitement) required!
This NYRR 9+1 qualifying race takes you around Corona Park, which was home of the 1939 and 1964 Worlds Fair and such ironic sights such as the Unisphere. Many of the 9+1 races are in Central Park, which makes going to Queens for this one a little more special.
I was planning to run the Fargo Marathon but a foot injury the week of the race caused me to change to their 10k option instead. However, I knew the 10k would still be fun...and flat...and fast...and did I say fun? Even though it was raining the morning of the race, people were still out to cheer on runners and I had a huge 10k PR! If you run this race (or their half or full marathon) and the 5k the night before, you’ll receive a special combo medal.
The world tunes in to watch the Belmont Stakes horse race, and in this race, you get the chance to be where the action happens! This race starts in the parking lot with a bugler playing to kick things off. The finish is on the iconic Belmont race track, running past the iconic grandstand as you run towards a photo finish!
There are so many Turkey Trot options, but this particular one really stands out. It is held before Thanksgiving, letting you keep your Thanksgiving Day open. What makes this race really stand out is the post race food, which includes apple pie, pumpkin pie, whipped cream, and even homemade chicken noodle soup!
This 9+1 NYRR race takes place the day before the NYC Marathon, starting at the United Nations, running past Grand Central Station, up 6th Avenue to Central Park, and finishing at the iconic finish of the Marathon! This race has many international runners doing a ‘shake out’ run before the race and has an incredible worldwide-excitement energy.
This 5k and 10k series takes place all around Canada and helps raise money and awareness for women’s mental health. Sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart, it has the BEST swag bag I have ever seen! In a strong reusable bag, you will get food, snacks, socks, chocolate, and so many samples, and even a bracelet!
This race series benefits the John Theissen Foundation, which helps underprivileged children. It takes place near Halloween and in addition to some runners in costumes, it even includes a candy stop as an aid station!
This race is organized by Richard Brodsky, the only person in the word running marathons while having AIDS and brain cancer. After running this two loop course, the finish involves one of the best race raffles I have ever seen. Added bonus - your name is listed on the back of the running shirt!
A race series so special it appears 3 times in my favorites! This is the Friday night component of a 2 day running combo event. Seriously the entire town seems to come out to either run in this event or cheer on runners. Have I mentioned yet Fargo is flat and fast and friendly and fabulous??? Even on an injured foot I came close to a 5k PR in this race! If you run this race, and either the 10k, half, or full marathon the next day, you qualify for a special combo medal.
This race will lead a lasting imprint on your soul. This race follows the footsteps of FDNY Stephen Siller, who lost his life on 9/11. When he heard what was happening on that day, he rushed to Manhattan. He got as far as the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it had been closed for security purposes. Still determined to get to the Word Trade Center, he ran through the tunnel up to the World Trade Center, and lost his life on that tragic day. The run in his memory starts at the Tunnel. Traction is you jump up to touch the banner at the start of the race, and then make your way to the tunnel - where everyone starts chanting ‘USA! USA! USA!’ It is hot inside the tunnel, there are no aid stations, and no sunlight. When you finally approach the end of the tunnel, you look up and see the new Freedom Tower, and can only start to imagine what different view Stephen Siller saw that day and continued running to the building. As you exit the tunnel, you will see a long row of firefighters and police officers, each holding a banner with the face and name of an emergency hero who lost their lives that day. It is hard not to cry. I went up to as many as I could to say ’thank you’ and they said the same back to the runners. After a loop through downtown Manhattan and past some local high school bands and cheerleaders, you end at the World Trade Center. This is not a PR course, but this experience is a must-do!