The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, the temperatures are rising… what time of the year could possibly be better for testing your determination, lacing up, and finally running that famous 26.2 miles? For many of us, spring means slowly easing back into physical activity, but others tackle it head-on by participating in a marathon.
Here, we take you through some of the best marathons happening across the country this spring. And while a few of the most popular picks have already reached their quota of racers this year, it’s never too early to mark your calendar and start training for that perfect springtime marathon in 2016!
Where: Napa, CA
When: March 1, 2015
Napa Valley is known for its grapes, for sure, but the wine country also serves as a fabulous host for marathon hopefuls each spring. Registration is limited to a fairly small number of runners (about 3,000) so as not to impact the beautiful landscape surrounding the course. Take on the 26.2 miles of rolling scenery—no worries, it’s mostly downhill— and then celebrate with a delicious glass of pinot at a world-famous winery; you’ll have definitely earned it!
Where: Los Angeles, CA
When: March 15, 2015
And they’re off! Back for it’s 30th year, the ASICS LA Marathon takes runners from Dodger Stadium to a scenic finish near the Santa Monica Pier. Participants from all 50 states and 55 countries will set out for the finish line on March 15th in hopes of achieving a top prize, but everyone involved is sure to have a great time. This year, the course will feature more than 25 bands and four entertainment stations, with upbeat music and enthusiastic supporters lining every turn.
Where: Virginia Beach, VA
When: March 22, 2015
Most people associate St. Paddy’s Day weekend with drinking and excess, but for runners, there’s no such thing as a spring break! Virginia Beach has welcomed a clan of about 4,000 marathoners to its scenic, flat shoreline every Saint Patrick’s Day since 1973, and more than 20,000 other runners participate annually in the weekend’s other activities (including a half marathon, 8K, and appropriately named “Leprechaun Dash”). In keeping with the spirit of the holiday, the festivities conclude with a party that includes live entertainment, authentic Irish stew, and—most importantly—ice-cold pints of Yuengling.
When: April 4, 2015
Charlottesville is the home of the University of Virginia, one of the most beautiful college campuses in America. As such, the Charlottesville Marathon has long been touted as one of the most scenic marathons in the country. The race features a looped route that incorporates a mixture of flat land and rolling hills, all set against a beautiful, rural backdrop. Notable sights along the course include the campus’s famed Jefferson’s Rotunda and Piedmont horse farms←a wonderful change of pace from more typical urban marathon settings.
Where: St. Louis, MO
When: April 12, 2015
The GO! St. Louis Marathon and Family Fitness Weekend features a competitive marathon as well as other races for all ages and fitness levels, including a half marathon, 5K run/walk, children’s fun run, and a mature mile. The weekend is designed to promote community wellness and attracts more than 25,000 participants annually. Still not convinced? The event also includes Saint Louis-themed race food, including Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, Pasta House Toasted Ravioli, and Crown Candy Chocolate…. yum!
Where: Boston, MA
When: April 20, 2015
The oldest marathon in the United States, the Boston Marathon is reputed as the pinnacle springtime event for marathoners. Even in the aftermath of the horrific Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, Bostonians came back together last year with amped-up security and incredible strength and completed the course in the name of those lost and wounded in the tragedy. Now back for its 119th year, those fast and disciplined enough to qualify for the race will truly enter the big leagues, continuing a tradition that has defined the best of the best runners for generations.
Where: Nashville, TN
When: April 25, 2015
For runners who love country music, St. Jude’s Country Music Marathon in Nashville is definitely your best bet. The marathon always draws a huge crowd for a rockin’ good time that includes live musical performances throughout the course as well as a huge post-race concert. The performers for this year’s bash are still TBA, but last year the show was headlined by Charles Esten and Clare Bowen from ABC’s hit show Nashville.
Where: Big Sur, CA
When: April 26, 2015
When it comes to scenic marathons, you can’t do much better than Big Sur, which is set against Highway One’s sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and passes through grand Redwood forests. Runners come from all parts of the world to participate in this destination event, drawn both by the stunning course and the opportunity to face off with international competitors.
Where: Cincinnati, OH
When: May 3, 2015
The Flying Pig’s silly name alludes to its humble beginnings, which arose from a late-night drinking session among a group of runners and a potential route scribbled on a bar napkin. Now in its 17th year, the Flying Pig Marathon has become one of the largest marathons in the country. More than 30,000 runners participate in the race, which winds through the streets of Cincinnati and is lined with over 100,000 cheering spectators each year.