Cherry Blossom 10-Miler1 of 13
Washington D.C.'s Cherry Blossom 10-miler is flat, fast rite of spring. The race was started in 1973 as a way for elite runners to tune-up for the Boston marathon, but now this increasingly popular event attracts runners of all abilities. The course takes participants on a tour of the nation's capital, with hundreds of blooming cherry blossom trees serving as the whimsical backdrop.
The Big Sur Marathon2 of 13
Run it for the views, not a PR. This California race might be the ultimate bucket list event. Held along Highway 1, the point-to-point course offers sweeping coastal sights, sea creatures, iconic redwood forests, mountain vistas and plenty of hills. At the halfway point on Bixby Bridge, marathoners are treated to piano tunes played by a tuxedo-clad musician. You're unlikely to PR on this tough course, but the photo ops are well worth the additional time it takes to reach the finish
Bay to Breakers3 of 13
If you're looking for a party with a side of running, check out San Francisco's Bay to Breakers. Participants who take on this 12K race will begin at the bay, tackle the historically tough Hayes Hill, run through the heart of San Francisco and end at the breakers on Ocean Beach. Costumes--or no clothing at all--and a fun attitude are a must for this century-old race!
Rock 'N Roll Las Vegas4 of 13
For an unforgettable Las Vegas experience, the city's Rock 'n Roll marathon (or half marathon) is a must-run race. Race evening is the only night all year that the strip is closed for a private event--how can you miss that? As the sun sets, you'll take a running tour of this desert oasis. The Elvis impersonators, sparkling lights and cheering crowds will keep you entertained well past the finish line.
Boilermaker5 of 13
Toe the starting line with elites, and celebrate your finish with local brews at Utica's Boilermaker. This summer race is a must-do in Upstate New York. In its 40 years, the Boilermaker has evolved from a local race to a world-class event that lasts all week long. In addition to the classic 15K, race organizers also hold a community 5K, kids' races and a health & fitness expo. Knock out the 9.3-mile race then kick back with a cold drink and some tunes at the local brewing company's after-party.
Manchester Road Race6 of 13
To earn that second slice of Thanksgiving pie, put the Manchester Road Race on your calendar. If you've never run it before, you're almost guaranteed a PR--that's because the 4.748-mile race is a very unusual distance, following the historic course that 12 men raced in 1927. The race is one of the largest turkey trots in New England and regularly attracts elite runners such as Molly Huddle and Bernard Lagat.
Dipsea Race7 of 13
If you love history and trail running, don't miss the Dipsea Race. One of the oldest foot races in the USA (second only to the Boston Marathon!), this unique 7.4-mile race will take you on an unforgettable journey through northern California's Muir Woods, from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach. But be forewarned--the steep inclines and uneven terrain make this a very challenging course. The race offers a unique handicap system that allows head starts based on gender and age, which often leads to an exciting finish.
The Disney Marathon8 of 13
If you're a kid at heart or just looking for a fast winter marathon, consider The Disney Marathon. Pass by Cinderella's Castle, wave to Mickey Mouse and relive all of your childhood fantasies as you run through the most magical place on earth. Not that into costume-clad characters? This flat course offers a chance at a fast time when much of the country is buried under snow. If you're looking for a true endurance test, consider the Goofy or Dopey Challenge--you'll run multiple races (the Dopey is a 5K, 10K, half and full) over the course of the weekend and earn some sweet medals (in addition to bragging rights, of course).
Peachtree Road Race9 of 13
For a big-city race with plenty of patriotic spirit, Atlanta's Peachtree Road Race should top your list. Held annually on July 4, this 10K is the largest in the world with 60,000 runners. The event regularly attracts elite 10K runners, but its better known for its awesome T-Shirt designs and sweltering temps. No matter your speed, you shouldn't miss this iconic southern race.
Rock 'n Roll Nashville10 of 13
If you're a music lover, the Rock 'n Roll Nashville series of events is an unforgettable experience. Race weekend offers marathon, half marathon, 5K and 1-mile races, so no matter your training level, you can take part in the fun. Nashville is the home to country music, so you're guaranteed to have an awesome soundtrack throughout the race. And this race series offers some of the best crowd support of all the Rock 'n Roll races--they'll make you feel like a superstar!
The Boston Marathon11 of 13
The Boston Marathon--enough said. Sure, the qualifying times are tough, but this race is one of the oldest and most revered in the world. For many runners, working toward a BQ is the ultimate goal, but if that isn't in the cards, Boston accepts a number of charity runners each year as well.
Hollis Fast 5K12 of 13
To set a PR, toe the line at the Hollis Fast 5K. Named one of the fastest 5Ks in the USA and the fastest 5K in New England, this USATF-certified course drops 224 feet over 3.1 miles. The small town event benefits the local Rotary Club, so you'll help a good cause while also running a super fast time.