Races are often chosen based on location, with a large percentage of these being close in proximity to a runner’s home. But occasionally, runners aim for a more exciting and memorable adventure, turning a race into an excuse for a full-blown destination vacation. And if you’re looking to get out of town and run in a place you never have before, check out these races in some of the world’s most popular locations.
Hemingway 5K Sunset Run & Paddleboard Race 2017July 22, 2017; Key West, Fla. 1 of 12
Lace up your shoes or wax up your stand up paddleboards for the longest-running race in Key West. The three-mile paddleboard race will begin at 6 p.m., followed by the 5K at 7:30 p.m.
The road race will take runners through Old Town Key West, passing notable landmarks like the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. This event commemorates the life and work of the author, who lived in Key West during the 1930s, and the races are a nod to his adventurous sporting lifestyle.
10K, 5K & Fun Run – Eureka Springs Multisport Festival 2017Aug. 13, 2017; Eureka Springs, Ark. 2 of 12
They call it the "Natural State" for a reason and few areas within Arkansas' borders are more indicative of that fact than Eureka Springs—the host site of the Eureka Springs Multisport Festival.
Whether you're running the 10K, the 5K or just for fun, this is a great race to add to your calendar. Just be sure to soak in the breathtaking beauty of the Ozarks while you're there.
The 2017 Kaua'i Marathon and Half MarathonSept. 3, 2017; Kaua'i, Hawaii 3 of 12
Sparkling blue water, pristine white sand beaches and lush rainforests: These are just a few of the unforgettable sights awaiting both marathon and half marathon participants at this Hawaiian race. The eighth annual race begins at 6 a.m. to beat the heat, but this just means you have the rest of the day to enjoy the island.
Bring the whole family and have the kids sign up for the Keiki Run, which offers a Toddler Trot, quarter-mile and half-mile fun run on the Saturday before the full and half marathon.
Another perk? Not only are you running in a tropical paradise, your entry fee is helping a number of local charities and non-profit groups thrive, including donations to help fight cancer and children's diseases.
Sydney Running FestivalSept. 17, 2017; Sydney, Australia 4 of 12
Head Down Under for an Australian vacation and the Sydney Running Festival. This event offers a marathon, half marathon and 9-kilometer Bridge Run, which all unfold across the main deck of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. The full and half marathon courses finish at the world-famous Sydney Opera House, making for spectacular finisher's photos worth framing.
The 2016 edition features brand new courses that are flatter, faster and more beautiful than ever, giving both locals and visiting runners an unforgettable experience.
Adirondack Marathon Distance FestivalSept. 23, 2017; Schroon Lake, N.Y. 5 of 12
The Adirondack Marathon Distance Festival winds through the Adirondack Forest Preserve—which, in and of itself, should be more than enough reason to add this event to your bucket list. Hosted in Schroon Lake, N.Y., the race follows the shores of this crystal clear lake, along two-lane country roads and into the forest, where gorgeous foliage awaits.
Competitors can choose from the full marathon, half marathon, as well as two- and four-person relays.
Portland MarathonOct. 8, 2017; Portland, Ore. 6 of 12
This year's Portland Marathon marks the 46th anniversary of this event, which has received numerous recognitions as one of the best marathons in the country. This Boston-qualifier has been named a top option for first-timer marathoners, the best-organized marathon in North America and most walker-friendly race in America.
Runners can expect near perfect running temperatures (the average October temperature is 55 degrees), live entertainment along the course and a goody bag full of unique finisher's memorabilia.
2017 Running for the Bay Marathon EventOct. 22, 2017; Apalachicola, Fla. 7 of 12
The reasons to run in this event could be summed up in two words: Apalachicola Bay. This spectacularly beautiful American estuary is worth the trip to Apalachicola on its own. Combine that with five race distances (marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K and ultra marathon 50K) and this becomes one of the premier destination races of the year.
All courses are USTAF-certified and the marathon will get you to Boston, so what are you waiting for?
Malibu Half Marathon & 5KNov. 5, 2017; Malibu, Calif. 8 of 12
This gorgeous out-and-back half marathon route begins and ends on the Pacific Coast Highway just north of Point Mugu Beach, with a turnaround near the iconic Neptune's Net restaurant. The entire course for both distances is run on the PCH, offering sights of crashing waves, rocky bluffs and miles of sandy beaches.
The race is mainly flat with only a few rolling hills and no turns (other than the halfway turnaround point), so it's a great opportunity to attempt your next 13.1 or 5K PR.
NYCRUNS Brooklyn MarathonNov. 19, 2017; Brooklyn, N.Y. 9 of 12
This Boston-qualifier takes place in the Big Apple's famous Prospect Park, encompassing six full park loops and three lower loops—making it perfect for spectators to get multiple views of their favorite runners. The race was named Marathon of the Year in 2012 by Travelete.com, and will offer hot chocolate, bagels, spreads and fresh fruit at the finish line.
Registration will be capped at 500 people and the race has sold out every year since it began in 2011, so be sure to register early.
Islamorada Half Marathon, 10K & Beach N' Beer MileDec. 9, 2017; Islamorada, Fla. 10 of 12
The Florida Keys are a favorite vacation spot because of their easy access, incredible tropical setting and because you don't need a passport. This second annual event offers a half marathon and 10K, providing participants an unforgettable running tour of the island. Organizers have also added a Beach N' Beer Mile this year for those who want a less serious race, challenging runners to consume four beers over the span of a one-mile beach course (that still sounds pretty serious to us).
Are you a runner who also enjoys fishing? This event is held in the Sport Fishing Capital of the World, so be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to hit the water with a rod and reel.
The DONNA Marathon WeekendFeb. 9, 2018; Jacksonville, Fla. 11 of 12
Ready to run for something more than a medal? The DONNA Marathon Weekend—which includes a 5K, 10K, relay, half marathon, marathon, ultra marathon and event challenges—is filled with over 10,000 runners from across the globe and, as the National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer, the event is very, very pink.
The course if fast and flat and the beautiful beach communities that line the course have become very adept at throwing a 26-mile long party on the sand.