Camarillo MarathonJan. 3, 2016, Camarillo, Calif. 1 of 9
This sixth annual event is a great option for first-time marathoners, as the all-flat course passes along the famous Camarillo farm lands and provides spectators multiple opportunities to cheer on their runners. The race also offers a seven-hour time limit (most races give runners six hours or less), so slower runners won't have to worry about being cut off. The flatness of the course also allows seasoned vets ample opportunity to PR and/or qualify for the Boston Marathon, as it's a USATF certified Boston Qualifier.
Tri-City Medical Center Carlsbad MarathonJan. 17, 2016, Carlsbad, Calif. 2 of 9
This Boston qualifier is a coastal marathon offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and quaint downtown Carlsbad. With much of the race taking place along historic Highway 101/Carlsbad Boulevard and live entertainment at every mile, this race offers an experience hard to find anywhere else. The mid-January date brings average temperatures in the 50s—near perfect running weather. Runners receive a custom finisher's medal and high-quality technical running jacket. Photo credit: Rich Cruse.
2016 Death Valley Marathon and Half MarathonFeb. 6, 2016, Death Valley, Calif. 3 of 9
Push your abilities to the limit during this certified Boston-qualifier race in the lowest, driest and hottest area in North America. The good news, however, is that the desert this time of year likely won't get hotter than 70 degrees and the course is relatively flat. The out-and-back route starts and ends at Furnace Creek Ranch, completely encircled by desert wilderness and panoramic vistas of the mountains surrounding Death Valley.
Mountain Marathon and Hillbilly Half MarathonMarch 12, 2016, Olympia, Wash. 4 of 9
As "one of the gnarliest half and full marathons in Washington State," the Mountain Marathon includes steep climbs, technical trails, lots of mud and beautiful views. You will certainly earn your finisher's title with this race through the single-track trails of Capitol Forest outside Olympia. To reserve your technical race shirt, you must register before February 10, 2016.
2016 Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon, Half Marathon, 5K and RelayMarch 20, 2016, Modesto, Calif. 5 of 9
Race day turns into a full weekend experience for the whole family at the Modesto Marathon. The Golden Valley Health Centers Fitness Expo will showcase the latest running and health products, the CrossPoint Kid Zone lets your little ones jump around in a bounce house and make fun race day signs for mom or dad, and the Finish Line Festival offers athlete massages, food trucks and a beer/wine garden. Pace leaders provide a way to stay on track during the race on this "very flat and fast course."
Big Sur International Marathon 2016April 24, 2016, Carmel, Calif. 6 of 9
As one of the largest and most popular marathons in California, the Big Sur International Marathon was once crowned the "Must Do in Your Lifetime" marathon by Runner's World bigwig Bart Yasso. While the race is not billed as beginner-friendly, the entire event experience is one you won't soon forget. Staged entirely on the Pacific Coast Highway, runners will take in the Pacific Ocean on one side and the coastal mountains on the other. For a distinctive twist, the "Big Sur Piano Man," Michael Martinez, plays a Yamaha Grand Piano at the Bixby Bridge, halfway through the marathon course. Registration fees include a long sleeve Asics technical shirt, a ceramic finisher's medallion, a souvenir race program and weekend guide, and access to pre- and post-race festivities.
2016 Eugene MarathonMay 1, 2016, Eugene, Ore. 7 of 9
As a premier running event in TrackTown, USA, the 10th anniversary of the Eugene Marathon is one that all runners should experience. The flat, fast and scenic course races through various sections of Eugene and ends inside historic Hayward Field, one of the best-known track and field stadiums in the U.S. As runners cross the finish line, all are welcome to enjoy live music, massages, food vendors (including Krusteaz pancakes), a beer garden and "great people watching."
Surfer's Path Marathon and Capitola Half Marathon & RelayMay 22, 2106, Santa Cruz, Calif. 8 of 9
You have to admit, 26.2 miles along the beach sounds way better than 26.2 miles pretty much anywhere else. With a starting point at the legendary Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, runners will complete an out-and-back course along the Santa Cruz County coastline, passing a series of world renowned surf breaks and iconic California spots for visitors and locals alike. Not ready for the full marathon distance? This race also offers a relay division for you and your best runner friend.