You can sign up for marathons just about anywhere, but we think the West Coast’s spectacular scenery lends an awfully inspiring backdrop to help you push yourself to the limit.
What better way to see all of Disneyland than via a costume-filled, flat-course run? Hit your stride alongside the requisite Stormtroopers, Sith Lords, and Wookiees in the Star Wars Half Marathon at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. The upcoming marathon is set for January 15, 2017. The course goes through Disney California Adventure Park for the first few miles, past Disneyland Park, then onto the streets of Anaheim. There are also 5K and 10K options on different days, along with kid-friendly races.
Bonus benefit: A chance to get your geek on!
While many opt to drink through wine country — why not run through it? At the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon, you can join 3,000 others in Calistoga, California as they dine and dash… well, maybe not in that order. The track takes you through the rolling hills, past wineries, and ends in downtown Napa. While it isn’t very spectator-friendly, the no-headphones rule means you can enjoy the company of other racers as you move along the Silverado Trail.
Bonus benefit: Visit some wineries after the race!
Join about 25,000 other fitness fiends for the San Francisco Marathon in July. Enjoy views of the water as the course takes you through picturesque neighborhoods, historic landmarks, the sprawling Golden Gate Park, and the Golden Gate Bridge. There is no shortage of hills along the way, but the colorful crowd cheering you on will motivate you to overcome them.
Bonus benefit: Tour all of San Francisco’s eclectic neighborhoods!
Move along the Pacific Coast from Big Sur up to Carmel, California as part of the Big Sur International Marathon on April 24, 2016. You’ll enjoy gorgeous scenes from historic Highway 1, which features some hills, and a climb up to Hurricane Point. The race is one of the largest rural marathons in the world, weaving through inspirational woods, vistas, and beaches. There are also 3K, 5K, and relay events available.
Bonus benefit: Instagram those Kerouacian views!
Enjoy the sights and sounds of Hollywood and Beverly Hills with 25,000 other runners as you set off from Dodger Stadium and wrap up 26.2 miles later at the famous Santa Monica Pier. You can also sign up for the Conqur LA Challenge bundle, which includes entry to the Santa Monica Classic 5K or 10K and the Pasadena Half Marathon at the Rose Bowl.
Bonus benefit: Play celebrity bingo as you run!
The Tacoma City Marathon might be small, with about 600 participants total, but it shows off some big time coastal views, with a full third of the race set along the water. Catch views of Puget Sound and Mount Rainier as you move along a 1-mile stretch on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. There are some tough hills, but it has a net downhill elevation — perfect if it’s your first time doing a marathon.
Bonus benefit: Enjoy the waterfront views!
TrackTown, USA is home to American distance running, where many legends have set foot, and the setting for the Eugene Marathon. Named a “perfect race” by “Runner’s World” magazine, the course is mostly flat except for a hill on the 8th mile, and includes a scenic tour of trails along the Willamette River. Stop by Pre’s Rock, named after the famous track star, Steve Prefontaine.
Bonus benefit: Take pride in some eco-friendly racing!
Race along Vancouver Island’s Wild Pacific Trail, one of British Columbia’s top natural attractions, starting from Long Beach in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and finishing at the Village Green in Ucluelet. You’ll run past ancient cedars — some over 800 years old — and enter sea lion territory at the Rocky Bluffs.
Bonus benefit: Get up close and personal with sea lions and seals!
With eight hours to finish, the Portland Marathon has a longer time frame compared to most marathons. Perfect if you want to walk part of the time. Enjoy the backdrop of this craft beer mecca with tons of personality. Live entertainment along the way will keep you motivated. Fall in Portland is unlike any other type of year, making it ideal for race day.
Bonus benefit: Lots of free swag!
In December, about 9,000 runners and walkers will join together for the California International Marathon in Sacramento. The flat path winds you through rural roads and small towns, before finishing in the midst of the city. There are lots of ups and downs, before a steady downhill incline helps you ramp up the speed until you breeze past the finish line near the California State Capitol building.
Bonus benefit: Get motivated by the cheering crowds!