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.
The 2016 Kaua'i Marathon and Half MarathonSept. 4, 2016; Kaua'i, Hawaii 1 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.
Hemingway 5K Sunset Run & Paddleboard Race 2016July 23, 2016; Key West, Fla. 2 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.
Maine Lobster Festival 10K Road RaceAug. 7, 2016; Rockland, Maine 3 of 12
Maine is famous for harvesting some of the most delicious lobster in the country, and the state's Lobster Festival celebrates all things crustacean. The festival includes local lobster dinners, live entertainment, cooking contests, carnival rides and, of course, a road race.
The race offers a 10K, 5K and Kid's Fun Run option, taking runners through the quaint town of Rockland. The race is on Sunday morning, leaving the whole day for feasting on buttery Maine lobster.
Sydney Running FestivalSept. 18, 2016; 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.
Portland MarathonOct. 8, 2016; Portland 5 of 12
This year's Portland Marathon marks the 45th 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.
Malibu Half Marathon & 5KNov. 6, 2016; Malibu, Calif. 6 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. 20, 2016; Brooklyn, N.Y. 7 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. 10, 2016; Islamorada, Fla. 8 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.
42nd Bermuda Marathon Weekend & Bermuda Triangle ChallengeJan. 13, 2017; Pembroke, Bermuda 9 of 12
Venture to this beautiful, subtropical island while the majority of the U.S. is braving frigid, wintry conditions. With an average January temperature of 65 degrees, Bermuda in January could be considered a runner's paradise.
This race's Bermuda Triangle is a different kind of scary. Challenge yourself to run three races in three days by participating in the one-mile, 10K and half or full marathon during the weekend. Finishers will receive a medal for each race completed and a special Bermuda Triangle Challenge medal to commemorate the achievement.
19th Annual Key West Half Marathon Run & WalkJan. 15, 2017; Key West, Fla. 10 of 12
This half marathon and 5K race runs through Key West's historic Old Town and waterfront areas, passing countless palm trees and miles of South Florida's pristine beaches. The half marathon course even runs on the boardwalk, giving runners a fantastic view of the Gulf of Mexico.
This race fills up quickly, so be sure to get a jump on registration today.
Marathon Bahamas 2017Jan. 15, 2017; Nassau, Bahamas 11 of 12
The Bahamas regularly rank as one of the top destinations for tropical vacations, and the Marathon Bahamas race is just as popular. Each year, runners from 30 different countries flock to the historic city of Nassau to run 26.2 miles across the small island of New Providence.
This tropical location is a great spot for a January marathon, featuring a flat course, average temperature of 70 degrees and an oceanfront finish—leading into an awesome post-race beach party.