Hundreds of races across the country advertise as being "fast and flat," but when you show up on race day, you often find sneaky rolling hills, multiple sharp turns and adverse weather that keep you from running your personal best time.
As you map out your race schedule for the year ahead, choose a few events that are sure to provide you with a truly flat and fast experience. Here are some of the fastest races in America.
5K1 of 6
Who doesn't love a Thanksgiving Day turkey trot? The Applied Materials Silicon Valley 5K in downtown San Jose, Calif., is one of the fastest 5K courses in the nation. Besides a flat and fast course, the Silicon Valley 5K offers a unique experience to mingle with some of the nation's best 5K runners. The opportunity for a new personal best, mild temperatures and a heavy prize purse attract Olympians and professional runners from across the country to Silicon Valley.
8K2 of 6
The HCA Virginia 8K is a fast tour of historic downtown Richmond, Va. With wide-open roads and a final mile that is "falling off a cliff" downhill, the HCA Virginia 8K is the perfect place to run a quick time. Digital clocks at every mile will keep you on pace all the way through the finish and on to the fabulous Finish Line Festival on Brown's Island.Mid-November in Virginia generally calls for cool mornings and warmer afternoons, perfect for an early morning race like the HCA Virginia 8K.
10-Mile3 of 6
The Cherry Blossom 10-mile road race in Washington, D.C., is the perfect place for a fast marathon tune-up race or an all-out 10-mile race for a new personal best. Planned with the capital's Cherry Blossom Festival in mind, this early April event tours the city's best attractions and combines the patriotism of the nation's capital and its monuments with the natural beauty of the pink cherry blossom trees lining the route in full bloom. Pancake flat and in the mild weather that D.C. provides in the beginning of April, the Cherry Blossom 10-mile is definitely one of the fastest 10-mile races in the country.
Half Marathon4 of 6
The Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon is a charming point-to-point race that descends gently from a lonely road along Lake Michigan into the quaint industrial town of Duluth, Minn. With just a few gentle rollers about 8 miles into the race, the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon is the perfect venue to settle into a rhythmic pace and let the miles take care of themselves. The finish line awaits after a final 5K through the main city streets, winding down past a shipyard and into a hearty crowd of spectators cheering you on to the finish. Though the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon takes place in mid-June, the weather is generally mild, between 40 and 50 degrees at the start, often slightly foggy and overcast with a gentle breeze off the lake, and the course is well stocked with fuel stations.
Marathon5 of 6
The Tallahassee Marathon may seem an unlikely candidate for one of the country's fastest marathons, as it certainly doesn't hold the notoriety of a race like the Chicago Marathon or the California International Marathon. The field is small, an intimate crowd of a few hundred, but produces an unprecedented percentage of Boston qualifiers each year, finding its way into the top list of marathons in the United States. The weather in Tallahassee, Fla., in the late winter months is very runner friendly, so runner friendly in fact, that many professional runners from around the country choose to make Tallahassee their winter training home. The course starts and finishes at the Florida State University track and quickly merges onto the historic St. Mark's bike path, a flat asphalt path that is canvased by the tangled northern Florida wilderness and shrouded in Spanish moss.