The Best Half Marathons for First-Timers
We took the guesswork out of choosing the perfect race so you can have an unforgettable first-time experience. These 11 races will provide an easy introduction to the 13.1 distance—and make sure your first half marathon isn't also your last.
BMO Vancouver Half MarathonMay 1, 2016; Vancouver, B.C. 1 of 12
If you're looking to venture out of the U.S., the Vancouver Half Marathon is an excellent choice.
With views that keep your mind occupied and a significant downhill followed by what has been described as a "mostly flat" finish, it's a course that won't break you or your mental game. The weather is typically on the cooler side, so even though it's a summer race, it likely won't be sweltering.
BCT Harpers Ferry Half MarathonMay 14, 2016; Harpers Ferry, W.Va. 2 of 12
The West Virginia state slogan of "Wild and Wonderful" is the perfect way to describe the Harpers Ferry Half Marathon.
Though it's a challenging and hilly race, it makes our list because of the rich U.S. history the course includes. With views of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Storer College and homes from the 1800s, this race is a history lesson and a half marathon combined into one.
North Olympic Discovery Half MarathonJune 5, 2016; Port Angeles, Wash. 3 of 12
Big city races not your thing? The North Olympic Discovery Half Marathon offers a scenic point-to-point race for the nature lover in all of us.
The course offers views of the Olympic Mountains, rural farmlands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and is run on both hard and mixed surface trails. At the finish line, you'll be greeted with a finisher's medal, cold drinks, a food tent, massages and live entertainment.
Hershey Half MarathonOct. 16, 2016; Hershey, Pa. 4 of 12
Will run for chocolate! Who can resist the temptation of running a half at the "Sweetest Place On Earth?"
The Hershey Half takes runners through Hershey Park, the Milton Hershey school and around the neighboring areas outside of the park. The smell of chocolate throughout the race is enough to motivate you to get to the finish line, where you can use your two complimentary tickets to gain entry to the park. The course has rolling hills, but plenty of spectators to cheer you up and over them.
Excited to add a sticker to your car after you tackle your first half? The 13.1 car magnet included in the race packet does not disappoint, as it replaces the period with a Hershey's kiss.
Good Life HalfsyNov 6, 2016; Lincoln, Neb. 5 of 12
If the need for crowd support is at the top of your list, the Good Life Halfsy is the race for you.
While there are excellent viewing opportunities along the entire race course, there are specific cheer stations set up to strategically motivate runners toward the finish line. Cheer stations are stocked with vuvuzelas, cowbells, signs, thunder sticks and more, so if your family is coming with you, they don't need to bring any extra noise makers.
The Good Life Halfsy celebrates Nebraska and its people, landmarks, icons and culture. Soak up the good feelings, as the city claims to be one of the friendliest cities in America.
Big Sur Half Marathon on Monterey BayNov. 13, 2016; Monterey, Calif. 6 of 12
We've all heard the saying "Go big or go home." If running 13.1 is on your bucket list, why not run big!
The Big Sur Half Marathon does not disappoint with its breathtaking coastal views of Monterey Bay and on-course live music. The turnaround point will please the eco-conscious runners, with its BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) refill station to cut down on all those paper cups going to waste.
Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half MarathonNov. 13, 2016; Las Vegas 7 of 12
If your goal is to party like a rock star after your race, the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon is the one for you.
The race starts and finishes on the Las Vegas Strip, where there's no shortage of spectators cheering you on. This is the only time all year the Las Vegas Strip is shut down, making it a truly rare opportunity.
Running the race with your sweetie? The course offers the chance to stop at a Run-Thru Wedding, allowing couples to either tie the knot for the first time or renew their vows at a five-minute group ceremony.
The post-race party perks make this race one giant celebration, including a headliner concert at the finish line. Past Rock 'n' Roll Marathon acts have included Kid Rock and Blues Traveler.
Photo Credit: Ryan Bethke.
Southern Fried Half MarathonNov. 13, 2016; Nags Head, N.C. 8 of 12
Want to fly through your first half? The Southern Fried Half Marathon starts at North Carolina's Jockey's Ridge where the Wright Brothers first took flight.
This flat half marathon is great for first timers who are looking to avoid the crowds but still want a large enough race to not feel alone. Around 4,000 runners tackle this point-to-point race each year.
Kiawah Island Half MarathonDec. 10, 2016; Kiawah Island, S.C. 9 of 12
There's something to be said for southern hospitality.
The flat and fast Kiawah Island Half Marathon on the coast of South Carolina is a popular race destination for northerners wanting to escape winter weather. Runners will enjoy spectacular views of maritime forests, marshes and beautiful homes as you run throughout the Island community.
For a little R&R (Run & Relaxation), book a longer stay at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, the race's host.
Austin Half MarathonFeb. 17, 2017; Austin, Texas 10 of 12
The 2017 event will mark the 26th running of the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon, which means they know a thing or two about putting together a great race.
In true "Live Music Capital of the World" style, the course of this race is lined with more than 30 local Austin bands. Austin is an incredible city to visit, and running there is equally inspiring.
If you find yourself concerned with the impact running can have on the local community, check out this event's Green Initiatives. The race management's dedication to the event and surrounding community will make you even more eager to hit the register button.
Disney Princess Half MarathonFeb. 26, 2017; Orlando, Fla. 11 of 12
Are you the type that loves all things Disney?
As a popular race for adults who like to unleash their inner child, the Disney Princess Half Marathon offers the opportunity to run through Epcot Center and the Magic Kingdom. As an added bonus, runners are encouraged to dress in their fanciest (run-friendly) princess duds.
If you're still not ready for a 13.1, you can tackle the Glass Slipper Challenge by participating in the 10K the day before.
This event is the perfect opportunity to bring the whole family, as it also offers a kids race and access to the world's most famous theme park. There's nothing quite as special as having your family there to cheer you on at your first half.