Here Are the Most Iconic American Races to Add to Your Calendar

Legendary for their course, their history, or simply their name, these races should be on any runner’s bucket list.

runners at the ca international marathon on sunday, december 8, 2019
Ryan Young

Nothing beats the butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling of lining up with hundreds—and sometimes thousands—of other runners at an early-morning start, hearing the gun go off, and racing through a picturesque city, trail, or coastline with spirited spectators cheering you on along the way.

However, racing looks a little different right now due to the coronavirus pandemic—race directors have either changed how their races are set up or have turned their races virtual to help stop the spread of COVID-19. But with a new year ahead, you can still sign up for—and make the best of—some of the most popular American races and marathons.

We’ve gathered up the most iconic races in the country, from the prestigious Boston Marathon to the funky Bay to Breakers 12K in San Francisco. And when we say iconic, we mean that we’ve honed in on some of the longest-standing, most beautiful, and overall most popular races. So whether you’re looking for a 5K, marathon, or anything in between, there’s a race on the roads in here for you.

Mark your calendar, pin your race bib, and meet us at the starting line!

*Not all race dates are finalized and may change in 2021. Some races have put a pause on registration (or provide virtual options) for now as well. With any race that you sign up for, be sure to check the race websites before signing up, and as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

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1 Jackson Day Race
Nicole Muriithi

Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
When: January 10, 2021
*In the event of race cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, registrants will receive a full refund less service charges.

Why Run It: Billed as the oldest running race in the southeast, this 111-year-old event takes runners on a 9K (5.6-mile) jaunt through New Orleans, winding through Crescent City and finishing at historic Jackson Square in the French Quarter. In tribute to the route’s historic roots—it follows the same path that Pirate Jean Lafitte and his henchmen took to rescue Andrew Jackson before the Battle of New Orleans in 1815—reenactors dressed as soldiers from the 1800s start the race each year. The postrace bash at Natchez Dock overlooks both the Mississippi River and the city and features unlimited draft beer plus unique local eats, such as jambalaya, king cakes, and baked cheese curls.

2 Walt Disney World Marathon

Where: Orlando, Florida
When: January 10, 2021
*This race is now virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why Run It: “The Disney Marathon was really the first marathon to focus on the race as an experience,” says race director Jon Hughes. Years later, Walt Disney has that experience dialed. Before 20,000 runners pass through all four Walt Disney World parks, entertainers of all kinds—costumed characters, live bands, acrobats, comedians—post up at each half-mile. There’s no need to tote your smartphone: Every character station has a pro photographer assigned to it, but lines may form for midrace pics with the most popular personalities. Luckily, the course has a seven-hour time limit. (Each runner must maintain a 16:00 mile pace throughout the race.) Runners must be in their corrals a half hour before the 5:30 a.m. start time, so prepare for an early morning, and handle your bathroom needs beforehand—there are no porta-potties in the corrals.

3 Gasparilla Distance Classic
David Lubin

Where: Tampa, Florida
When: February 20-21, 2021
*If the cancellation of an in-person 2021 PGDC Race Weekend due to COVID-19 is deemed necessary, the Association will comply and convert all events to a virtual experience.

Why Run It: Pick your distance—15K, half, 8K, or 5K—for this spirited nonprofit series that benefits charitable youth organizations and running programs in the Tampa Bay area. The 5K—the most popular distance with more than 12,000 participants—is an out-and-back course along Bayshore Boulevard that borders the Tampa Bay and skirts alongside some of the neighborhood’s most beautiful homes. At the halfway turnaround point, runners are greeted by the Tampa Rough Riders, a crew of costumed cavalrymen in a decked out train trolley who dole out beads and a limited supply of donuts. After pivoting, runners will receive another treat: a view of the downtown Tampa skyline that lasts all the way to the finish line.

4 NYC Half Marathon

Where: New York City
When: 2021 date canceled
*The 2021 New York City Half Marathon has been canceled due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns—registered runners have the option to get a refund, defer their entry to 2022, or donate their registration fee to support NYRR’s free youth and community programs.

Why Run It: Led by a talent-packed roster of American and international elites, this televised event takes runners on a sightseeing tour of Brooklyn and Manhattan hotspots, with a stint through Times Square. Approximately 1,000 pint-sized athletes from schools across New York City partake in the festivities too, with the NYRR Times Square Youth Run, which is exactly as it sounds: a 1,500-meter sans-traffic jaunt through the Big Apple’s megawatt epicenter.

5 Carlsbad 5000
Andrew McClanahan

Where: Carlsbad, California
When: TBD
*The date for the 2021 Carlsbad 5000 has not yet been confirmed due to the continuously evolving developments around COVID-19. Check their website for updates.

Why Run It: Sixteen world records—the most for any road race on the planet—have been set on this multiple loop seaside course that, fittingly, bills itself as the “World’s Fastest 5K.” The route kicks off in Carlsbad Village and brings runners south along the Carlsbad State Beach before doubling back north for a second mini loop past Magee Park. A staggered age-based start system puts elite runners last, which allows the everyday athlete a chance to watch history happen while basking in the Pacific Ocean breeze and sipping suds at the finish line beer garden. World record breakers are honored with a new brew specially crafted and named for them.

6 Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run
Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile

Where: Washington, D.C.
When: September 12, 2021

*If the cancellation of an in-person race due to COVID-19 is deemed necessary, it will become a virtual race. If registered runners do not want to run a virtual race, they have the option to get a refund, defer their entry to 2022, or donate their entry fee to the Children's Miracle Network.

Why Run It: The most iconic part of this 10-miler around the National Mall and the Monument Core? “It’s a tie between the cherry blossoms themselves when they’re out and the major national monuments,” says race director Phil Stewart.

Runners start at 15th Street alongside the Washington Monument where they’ll see the Lincoln Memorial to their right and the Capitol dome on their left. Cherry blossom trees dot the course throughout but are at their highest concentration around mile five as runners pass the Jefferson Memorial and then loop around Hains Point underneath a canopy of color (the race is always held in early April to coincide with peak cherry blossom season but of course the blooms aren’t guaranteed ). An out-and-back course means that back-of-the-pack runners can observe the elites, who in the past have included Olympic medalists like Meb Keflezighi and Joan Benoit Samuelson.

7 Statesman Cap10K (Virtual)
Ralph Barrera, Austin American-Statesman

Where: Austin, Texas
When: April 11-30, 2021

Why Run It: This looped 6.2-miler through downtown Austin is the largest 10K in Texas, and the seventh-largest in the U.S., but race director Jeff Simecek likes to keep the vibe close to home. “As Austin grows and changes, I work hard to make sure we keep the local flavor a big part of the event,” he says.

Case-in-point: a costume contest with six different categories, including “Spirit of Texas,” “The Armadillo,” and “Super & Everyday Heroes,” as well as live, local music at more than seven spots along the course, which begins on Congress Avenue Bridge and finishes in Vic Mathias Shores, an urban park overlooking downtown Austin. The Finish Line Festival features more live tunes, local food trucks, a beer and Bloody Mary garden, a dronie station (selfies, but taken with a drone), a massage tent, and photo booths.

8 Crescent City Classic (Virtual)

Where: New Orleans
When: March 2021
*This race is now virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why Run It: This 10K takes over New Orleans on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. The fast, point-to-point course starts in front of the Superdome, home of the Saints. Between miles 1 and 2, runners pass the historical Jackson Square then make their way through the French Quarter and up Esplanade Avenue to the stunning City Park. The postrace festival features local cuisine, drinks, and live music from some of the city’s most prominent bands.

9 Big Sur Marathon
Robert James Reese

Where: Monterey, California
When: 2021 date canceled
*The 2021 Big Sur Marathon has been canceled due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns. The next scheduled race date is April 24, 2022.

When you think bucket list races, Big Sur should be near the top of the list. This point-to-point course closes down Highway 1 in California. You will start among the giant Redwoods in Big Sur and work your way onto one of the most scenic marathon routes in the country. At the halfway point, you go over the iconic Bixby Bridge, where a piano player serenades you at the top of the giant uphill.

10 500 Festival Mini-Marathon (Virtual)
500 Festival

Where: Indianapolis, Indiana
When: May 8-23, 2021
*Check the website as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

Why Run It: More than 80 entertainment groups and spirit squads line the course of this fairly flat half marathon that ranks within the top 20 largest road races in the U.S. The route includes a full 2.5-mile lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, beginning right before mile six, where many runners follow the Indy 500 tradition of smooching the bricks at the speedway’s start and finish line.

Another highlight: “Victory Mile,” the final leg of the race. It starts as runners cross the White River at mile 12 and begin to spot the telltale black-and-white checkered flags and hear the roar of the crowds. Festivities continue at the postrace party in Military Park, which is open to runners and spectators and includes live tunes, a live video feed of the race, and food from local restaurants.

11 The Lilac Bloomsday Run (Virtual)

Where: Spokane, Washington
When: April 30-May 9, 2021
*Check the website as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

Why Run It: This historic 12K was born during the running boom in 1977 when local runner and 1976 Olympian Don Kardong suggested the city should have a downtown run of its own; 1,000 runners finished in the inaugural event. It’s since grown into the nation’s fourth-largest road race, attracting more than 42,000 runners. The hilly course features two tough inclines. While some consider Cemetery Hill between mile 2 and 3 the most challenging part of the course, most give that honor to Doomsday Hill, located between miles 4 and 5. To get you through those tough spots, there are over 25 bands playing tunes from almost every genre of music along the way.

12 Broad Street Run
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation

Where: Philadelphia
When: Fall 2021
*Check the website as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

Why Run It: This fast, slightly downhill 10-mile point-to-point course charts through Philly’s varied neighborhoods via Broad Street, beginning in North Philly’s Logan neighborhood row homes, passing through Temple University's campus, and then Center City, City Hall, and the Avenue of the Arts. Runners will also breeze by sports stadiums for the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, and the Sixers before finishing on the Marine Parade Grounds in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, where ships and cheering crowds await. Support is provided along the route as well in the form of music groups, high school bands, cheerleading squads, church choirs, and drill teams.

13 Bay to Breakers (Virtual)
Bay to Breakers

Where: San Francisco, California
When: May 16-June 2, 2021
*Should the 2021 race be forced to cancel due to COVID-19, all 2021 registrants will have the option to opt for their entire registration fee back in the form of race credit or to continue your run in the virtual 12K. Race credit earned due to a COVID-19 cancellation will not expire and can be applied to any Capstone Race.

Why Run It: “Purely San Francisco.” That’s how Chris Holmes, the General Manager of Bay to Breakers, describes the vibe of this 106-year-old 12K race, which bills itself as one of the oldest consecutively run annual footraces in the world. The hilly course (beware of Hayes Street Hill, a 0.69-mile, 5.5-percent grade stretch beginning at mile two) weaves west through the city and passes through nine different neighborhoods to finish at the Great Highway along the Pacific Coast’s Ocean Beach.

Approximately 200,000 spectators cheer on the field and take in the uber-creative, downright weird, and larger-than-life costumes that runners are known to wear.

14 Soldier Field 10 Mile
RAM Racing

Where: Chicago
When: May 29, 2021
*Check the website as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

Why Run It: This Memorial Day weekend race kicks off in the shadows of Soldier Field’s famed colonnades before taking runners on a vehicle-free jaunt down Lake Shore Drive. The turnaround at mile five provides a sweeping view of the city’s skyline and pivots runners back towards Chicago’s Museum Campus for the 50-yard-line stadium finish, complete with uniformed members of the U.S. Armed Forces hanging medals around each participant’s neck. Postrace tailgating on the nearby Stadium Green features food, beer, two hours of live music, and clear views of Lake Michigan.

15 BolderBOULDER

Where: Boulder, Colorado
When: May 31, 2021
*Check the website as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

Why Run It: As one of the largest road races in the U.S., everything about this event is big—from the lineup of 35-plus on-course entertainment groups to the roaring finish inside the University of Colorado’s Folsom Field in front of 70,000 spectators to the postrace Memorial Day tribute featuring an F-16 flyover and skydivers carrying flags for each branch of the military.

The course itself is a moderately hilly high-altitude journey starting alongside Boulder’s outdoor Twenty Ninth Street mall and weaving through tree-lined neighborhoods, where spectators are known for their enthusiastic (and often eccentric) cheering. Highlights include Elvis at mile two, belly dancers on Casey Hill at mile four, and “Ms. Tutu,” a cheerleader who has been a mainstay alongside the course since 1979. Runners can enjoy even more fresh-air Boulder festivities at the annual Creek Festival, a three-day extravaganza of local food, drink, vendors, carnival rides, and live music hosted that weekend.

16 Mount Marathon
Alaska's Focus Photography

Where: Seward, Alaska
When: July 7, 2021
*Check the website as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

Why Run It: This 104-year-old race—one of the oldest footraces in the U.S.—is an approximately three-mile climb and descent on Mount Marathon, complete with cliffs, scree fields, and waterfalls. Rookies beware: the steepness, measured from the base to the lip of the mountain just before the turnaround rock, averages 34 degrees, and runners are encouraged to wear gloves for the descent (described as more dangerous than the uphill), so that they can use their hands and feet to “crab walk” facing forward.

Because these conditions are not for the average 5Ker, first-timers must complete the entire course prior to race day. But the treacherous trail is countered by stunning scenery along the route and at the peak. Think: vibrant green and snow-capped mountains, glacial cirques, and sparkling blue waters in the Gulf of Alaska.

17 Peachtree Road Race
Joaquin Lara/Atlanta Track Club

Where: Atlanta, Georgia
When: July 4, 2021
*Check the website as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

Why Run It: Upwards of 150,000 spectators plus four radio broadcasts along the course rally runners as they wind their way through Buckhead into midtown Atlanta in this 49-year-old Independence Day race, the largest 10K in the world. A recurring cheerleader is Dean Sam Candler, who sprinkles runners with “holy water” outside the Cathedral of St. Philip around mile two. The support is especially needed about half a mile later as runners tackle Cardiac Hill, which rises more than 120 feet in approximately 0.75 miles.

While conquering Cardiac, participants are cheered by patients at the Shepherd Center, which specializes in spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation. The race then wraps in Piedmont Park, Atlanta’s largest park and the site of the postrace party, where both finishers and spectators enjoy a DJ, awards show, and local food.

18 Liberty Mile
liberty mile
Courtesy of Liberty Mile

Where: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
When: July 23, 2021
*Check the website as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

Why Run It: The fastest race in Pittsburgh kicks off at 7 p.m., making it the city’s only nighttime downtown road race. With a variety of one-mile races for participants to choose from, such as the Youth One for Fun Mile and the Youth Pup Trot Mile, there is something for the entire family. The certified, looped course starts on Penn Avenue in the heart of the Cultural District. Racers then make a turn onto 11th Street, and another quick turn onto Liberty Street for the final stretch. The start and finish lines are only a block apart, so spectators can catch both the beginning and the end—if they move quickly. After the masses finish, runners and spectators can watch the pro athletes battle it out for a hefty purse.

19 Bix 7
© John Schultz/Quad-City Times via ZUMA Wire

Where: Davenport, Iowa
When: July 24, 2021
*Check the website as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

Why Run It: This out-and-back race through downtown Davenport is rife with seriously steep hills. “It’s only seven miles long, but feels more like you’re doing a marathon,” says Ed Froehlich, race director.

The challenge begins immediately with Brady Street Hill, the most severe and longest incline—a seven to nine percent grade for approximately a third of a mile—that’s stationed just after the starting line. Another doozy, McClellan Boulevard hill, arrives at the turnaround point. The event celebrates its 46th year in 2020, and owes much of its success—and popularity with elites—to distance runner Bill Rodgers who joined the race in 1980 in lieu of the boycotted Moscow Olympics. Since then, the race regularly draws top talent from around the globe, including Joan Benoit Samuelson and Meb Keflezighi, who compete yearly alongside Rodgers.

20 Beach to Beacon
Kevin Morris

Where: Cape Elizabeth, Maine
When: August 7, 2021
*Check the website as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

Why Run It: This fast, point-to-point seaside 10K—founded by Joan Benoit Samuelson, winner of the first-ever women’s marathon in the 1984 Olympics—kicks off near Crescent Beach State Park in Cape Elizabeth. The winding route takes runners along tree-lined roads with panoramic Atlantic Ocean vistas. A fire truck aerial ladder arch displaying the American flag marks the midway point, and a hairpin turn around mile six leads runners up a steep path before wrapping around into a homestretch that includes views of Casco Bay and the Portland Head Light, the nation’s first commissioned lighthouse and also the most photographed lighthouse in America. Samuelson herself greets runners at the finish line.

21 Falmouth Road Race
Richard Maclone

Where: Falmouth, Massachusetts
When: August 15, 2021
*Check the website as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

Why Run It: This 7-mile course is nearly completely seaside, beginning in Woods Hole with the first three miles on narrow, hilly, winding and tree-shaded roads. The most iconic part, according to the race’s general manager Jennifer Edwards, comes right after mile one when runners pass Nobska Light, a picturesque, historic lighthouse perched on the southwestern tip of Cape Cod and overlooking Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands.

The final four miles open up on the flat right alongside Martha’s Vineyard Sound, where a small steep hill indicates the final half-mile of the race. As runners crest the hill, they’ll see a giant American flag flying overhead, and they can see themselves cross the finish on the JumboTron. From there, the race is all downhill to the finish along Falmouth Heights Beach.

22 Cooper River Bridge Run
The Chart Group

Where: Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
When: September 25, 2021
*Check the website as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

Why Run It: This point-to-point 10K, which ranks as the third-largest 10K in the country and celebrates its 41st year in 2018, takes runners from Mount Pleasant to downtown Charleston via the 2.5-mile-long Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, the longest cable-stay bridge in North America. Enjoy iconic views of the Charleston low country as more than 20 live bands pack the course, playing everything from jazz to funk to rock to rockabilly, and this year’s event will feature a prerace “Battle of the Bands” contest to determine the group that jams out at the peak of the bridge. Young runners can get in the fun too with the kids run and festival held the day before at Hampton Park, the largest park in the Charleston peninsula.

23 Twin Cities Marathon
Competitive Image

Where: St. Paul, Minnesota
When: October 3, 2021
*The race will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will post updates on their website. They will have an update on what registration protections are available before opening up registration for the 2021 race, likely in spring of 2021.

Why Run It: In this point-to-point course, you’ll tour two cities for the price of one. The race starts in downtown Minneapolis, then crosses the Mississippi River into St. Paul, where you’ll finish at the State Capitol Grounds. The course bills itself as the most beautiful urban marathon in the country, and it might just live up to the hype—the route loops around four lakes and parallels the river, giving runners a nature fix in the middle of two big cities.

24 Boilermaker Road Race
Don Bray

Where: Utica, New York
When: October 10, 2021
*The race will monitor the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and heed the advice and guidelines put forth by government agencies, and will inform runners of these developments. Registration updates and instructions will be announced in the coming months.

Why Run It: Celebrating its 44th anniversary in 2020, this hilly course is billed as a big city event held in a small town. The 15K is the premier event of the weekend, attracting national-caliber elites. Along with panoramic views signature to upstate New York, the Boilermaker is known for its spectator support and challenging inclines. You’ll be in elite company as you wind through downtown Utica. Kathrine Switzer, Bill Rodgers, and 2017 Boston Marathon winner Edna Kipligat have shown up in past years.

25 Army 10 Miler (Virtual)
Army 10 Miler

Where: Washington D.C.
When: October 10, 2021
*Check the website as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

Why Run It: This 10-miler is staffed by more than 600 active-duty soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Regiment. The race starts and finishes at the Pentagon, and follows a scenic route through the Nation’s Capitol. Runners cross the Arlington Memorial Bridge, which features spectacular views of the Potomac River, then pass a handful of national monuments including the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Washington Monument. Roughly 35,000 military personnel, runners, and spectators mingle out front of the Pentagon at the postrace party.

26 Chicago Marathon
Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Where: Chicago, Illinois
When: October 10, 2021
*Event organizers are working closely with the City of Chicago, including the Chicago Department of Public Health, to safely produce a race weekend experience for event attendees and the Chicago community. Preparations for the October 2021 race will align with Chicago’s re-opening framework, including strict adherence to local and state coronavirus guidelines.

Why Run It: There’s not a single spot on the course without spectators, as 1.7 million of them line Chicago’s streets to encourage runners. The course winds through 29 neighborhoods, giving you a run-by tour of can’t-miss spots like Wrigley Field, Chinatown, and Lake Michigan. (Learn more about the Windy City’s best running locations.) Don’t forget to snap a photo in front of the famous Bean (a giant reflective sculpture shaped like a legume) after the postrace party, which takes place in the 319-acre Grant Park.

27 Boston Marathon
Bruce Wodder/Photorun

Where: Boston, Massachusetts
When: October 11, 2021

Why Run It: The world’s oldest annual marathon is also one of the toughest to get into. You will either need to clock a qualifying time or nab a highly coveted charity bib. But once you’ve secured a spot, you’ll tread over 26.2 miles of running history. On the point-to-point course from the suburb of Hopkinton to the Boylston Street finish line, thousands of spectators celebrating Patriots’ Day will guide you. You’ll especially need their support near mile 20, the start of the infamous half-mile long Heartbreak Hill.

28 Marine Corps Marathon
Robert James Reese

Where: Arlington, Virginia
When: October 2021
*Check the website as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

Why Run It: Nicknamed the “Marathon of the Monuments,” the race offers a comprehensive tour of Washington, D.C.’s most iconic sites, including Georgetown, the Washington Monument, and the Jefferson Memorial. Starting and finishing in Arlington, Virginia, the route crosses over the Potomac River and winds its way through the nation’s capital, all while 150,000 spectators (including many servicemen and women) cheer you on. You won’t be alone if you’re a first-timer; more than a third of the field make their marathon debut here.

29 The Dipsea Race
Tina Humphrey courtesy of The Dipsea Race

Where: Mill Valley, California
When: November 7, 2021
*Check the website as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

Why Run It: This treacherous 7.4-mile cross-country competition—the oldest trail race in America—follows the historic Dispea Trail over hills, dales, and three flights of steep stairs to eventually climb to a peak elevation of 1,360 feet (the equivalent of a 50-story building). Runners continue through Muir Woods, Mount Tamalpais State Park, and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area before finishing at Stinson Beach where they can dip their toes in the Pacific Ocean. A staggered start system that awards runners “head start” minutes based on age and gender makes the race anyone’s game.

Registration is capped at 1,500, and there’s always a waiting list, sometimes up to 600 applicants. The trick to snagging a bib?

“We encourage applicants to write ‘sob stories’—personal reasons why they are inspired to compete in the Dipsea—when they apply,” says Dave Albee, communications director for the race.

30 New York City Marathon
Kevin Morris/PhotoRun

Where: New York, New York
When: November 7, 2021
*Check the website as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

Why Run It: The New York City Marathon is the largest in the world. The course provides a tour of all five boroughs, from the start on Staten Island to the finish in Manhattan’s Central Park—that is, if you can get in. (If you did, check out Bart Yasso’s course tour.) If you do secure a spot, expect more than a million spectators to cheer you through the finish.

31 Los Angeles Marathon
Getty Images

Where: Los Angeles, California
When: November 7, 2021
*COVID-19 safety precautions are being taken, such as limited field sizes, vaccinations and rapid testing for participants, mask use, and hygiene practices and procedures.

Why Run It: The route then takes a sightseeing tour through L.A. hotspots, including Hollywood and Chinatown, finishing by the beach in Santa Monica. Mixed in with the tens of thousands of runners and hundreds of thousands of spectators, you may spot a celeb or two. Chef Gordon Ramsay, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Lord of the Rings star Sean Astin have all crossed the finish line, and recently, James Corden made a pact to train for the 2020 race, too.

[Celebs You Didn’t Know Were Marathoners]

32 Philadelphia Marathon
Bas Slabbers

Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
When: November 21, 2021
*Check the website as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

Why Run It: Channel your inner Rocky as you run by many of the famous sites featured in the movie—including, of course, the iconic steps at the Philadelphia Art Museum, in view of where the race starts and finishes. The first half of the course winds through the city’s historic colonial downtown, before turning off on an extended out-and-back along the Schuylkill River. At mile 19 you’ll enter the small neighborhood of Manayunk—don’t be surprised if revelers at the bars lining the street offer beer to help power you through the final stretch back to the city.

33 Manchester Road Race
Manchester Road Race

Where: Manchester, Connecticut
When: November 2021 (exact date TDB)
*Check the website as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

Why Run It: This 4.75-mile looped Thanksgiving Day race through Manchester’s central streets will celebrate its 84th year in 2020, making it one of New England’s oldest road races. With that heritage comes hearty crowd support, as tens of thousands of cheering spectators line the route, and live bands play every third of a mile.

There’s also a race within a race: Midway through miles one and two, runners tackle a one-mile climb up Highland Street. The first male and female to conquer the incline are dubbed “King and Queen of the Hill” and receive a $1,000 bonus. Another reason to run: the race raises approximately $100,000 each year for a number of charities, including a large donation to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

34 California International Marathon
runners at the ca international marathon on sunday, december 8, 2019
Ryan Young

Where: Sacramento, California
When: December 5, 2021
*Check the website as race day gets closer for the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and information.

Why Run It: Runners begin their point-to-point tour of Sacramento near the Folsom Dam and finish in front of the state capitol building. While the course is net downhill and known for its speed—in 2018, 99 women and 53 men ran under the Olympic marathon trials qualifying standard—it’s no pancake. Rolling hills carry you through the first 18 miles before tapering out. The event sells out each year, but organizers save spots for runners who’ve come within five minutes of their Boston Marathon qualifying standard–they can register as late as October.

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