We already told you about our 10 favorite marathons in the U.S.. But between vibrant foliage and superb weather, autumn qualifies as one of the best seasons of the year for running a race. Deciding which marathon to run in this fall shouldn’t be as difficult as training for one. Here are 8 top marathon’s in the nation, including Boston Qualifiers, off-the-beaten-path challenging courses, and gorgeous countryside traverses that will motivate runners (and some walkers) of all experience levels. (Feeling extra-inspired? We also put together our marathon bucket list around the world.)
Staying in a vacation rental before and after your race is a great idea, by the way. You can cook your own food and have complete control over everything before your race. You can sleep in a bed that is comfortable and wake up with a beautiful view. Trust us, it's one of the best ways to take the edge off when you're dealing with those pre-race jitters!
Explore Somewhere New At One Of These Fall Marathons In The U.S.!
Cost of Registration: $35-135
Where: Avalon, California
When: November 19th, 2016
Catalina Island is a secluded location off the coast of Long Beach, California. But the beauty of running through the island’s three unique eco-systems is not for the faint of heart. The Catalina Island Eco Marathon course is 22 miles of fairly challenging trails. The “Catalina Crush” earns it’s name by being a killer hill towards the end of the race. It’s a smaller race with only a few hundred participants and fewer bystanders, but runners who traverse the trek will be rewarded with sitings of natural wildlife like seals, bald eagles, and buffalo along the way.
Cost of Registration: $20-125
Where: Hartford, Connecticut
When: October 8th, 2016
This gorgeous race through charming Hartford, Connecticut falls in October, when the weather is cool and the leaves are changing. It’s a mostly flat course with a few countryside hills along the Connecticut River, and it ends with a selection of incredible food in downtown Hartford’s Bushnell Park. It’s also highly-rated and includes a 5k, relay, half marathon, and full marathon. Walkers welcome!
Cost of Registration: $105-165
When: October 7th-9th, 2016
This beautiful urban marathon gives you two big cities for the price of one! Every October before the harsh winter, Minneapolis and St. Paul host this fabulous event. Spanning from the Minnesota Vikings Stadium to the State Capitol, you’ll pass colorful trees, shimmering lakes, picturesque hills, and the banks of the Mississippi River. There is a 10-mile, 10k, and 5k to choose from.
Cost of Registration: $35-135
Where: Corning, New York
When: October 2nd, 2016
Corning, New York hosts the annual Winos, pardon, Wineglass Marathon for thousands of willing runners each October. It is a Boston Qualifier and traverses a flat course from Bath to Corning, passing the glassy Finger Lakes area along the way. Of course, there’s wine tasting and locally brewed beer to enjoy in post-race celebration.
Cost of Registration: $115-145
Where: Seattle, Washington
When: November 27th, 2016
Just in time to run off that Thanksgiving feast, this 10k race takes you through rolling hills in Seattle to Mercer Island in Lake Washington. It’s a temperate and scenic race along Puget Sound, a highlight of the entire Pacific Northwest. Like many races, there’s also a Kids Fun Run on the same day.
Cost of Registration: $150-250
Where: Portland, Oregon
When: October 9th, 2016
Portland has been offering top-rated full and half-marathon races for over 40 years. It’s another Boston Qualifier and gets a decent turnout. Cross St. John Suspension Bridge along the fairly flat loop from before you head back to Portland. You’ll get stunning glimpses of Mt. Hood, Helen, and Rainier from the track. It’s also walk-friendly and lined with plenty of musical entertainment along the way. You’ll win a rose and tree sapling at the finish line!
Cost of Registration: $20-375
Where: Detroit, Michigan
When: October 14th-16th, 2016
Did you know you could run across two countries in the same race? This fall, consider registering for the Detroit Free Press, which begins in Detroit and crosses the Ambassador Bridge into Windsor, Canada. The route then loops back to the US via the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. There’s also an option to participate in the half marathon on the same weekend. Enjoy incredible Mediterranean cuisine in Greektown after racing!
Cost of Registration: $67-167
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
When: November 12th-13th, 2016
November in Las Vegas isn’t just for nightlife. Hit the Strip, but this time in your running shoes, and possibly a headlamp. The flat run goes by…how else…live rock n’ roll bands. There are half and “half of half” portions of the race earlier in the day, but the main event starts at 4:30pm and stretches across 26.2 miles. Afterwards, marathoners celebrate in the way most fitting for Sin City…at the after-party.
This article was written by Julianne Aiello.