A half-marathon is the perfect stepping stone race if your goal is to run a full marathon. It’s also the perfect tune-up race if you’re already a seasoned marathoner. Either way, it’s a staple of running weekends and festivals throughout the United States, and there are so many excellent ones to choose from. So here’s a list of the best half marathon races by state worthy of a bucket list
Here are the 50 state-by-state half marathons below. If you have any half marathons that might be worthy please share them in the comments at the bottom of this page. If you have a great one to add please use the format shown in each state. In the description field, please add the reason why the race you chose is worthy of a bucket list.
Name: Rocket City Half Marathon
Description: Have you ever wanted to run past a space rocket? Here’s your chance. This course takes you past some fantastic Alabama scenes, including the U.S. Space and Rocket Centre and gorgeous historic homes from the antebellum period.
Name: Anchorage Mayor’s Half Marathon
Description: This summer solstice run brings together hundreds of people worldwide to race around the beautiful scenery (and wildlife) around Anchorage. At this time of year, it’s light out 24/7, so prepare for some sun!
Name: RunSedona Half Marathon
Description: Run through Sedona’s splendid scenery, including the sight-to-behold rock formations of Coconino National Forest. The course is hilly, half paved, and half gravel/dirt.
Name: Little Rock Half Marathon
City: Little Rock
Description: The course will treat you to an Arkansas history lesson as you run past the State Capitol, the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, and the Governor’s mansion. This is a Boston qualifier with reasonably flat, highly runnable roads.
Name: Oakland Half Marathon
Description: This race has been going for over ten years, and you’ll get the chance to see many of Oakland’s historic neighborhoods. Running on the Bay Bridge will give you plenty of picture-perfect opportunities. The course has many flat stretches with a few hilly spots thrown in.
Name: Denver Colfax Half Marathon
Description: This race takes place on one of the largest running weekends in the Rockie Mountains. You’ll run beside lakes, rivers, and downtown Denver, with amazing views of the Rockies and over 5,000 feet of elevation.
Name: Nutmeg State Half Marathon
Description: Part of the famous New England Challenge race series, this race has you running six laps of Goodwin Park ; Golf Course. The path is a mostly paved asphalt course except for a brief stretch of gravel road.
Name: Coastal Delaware Running Festival
City: Dewey Beach
Description: The race has a beautiful start with fantastic ocean views at the starting line. You’ll then work your way through the paved trails of a state park and explore the neighborhoods of Dewey.
Name: Life Time Miami Marathon and Half
Description: You’ll be joining 15,000 runners from around the world and run through some of Maimi’s best-known locations, including Miami Beach. The mostly flat route is lined with entertainment stations to keep you motivated.
Name: Snickers Albany Half Marathon
Description: This race is consistently ranked one of the best in the country. With a relatively flat course and free tickets to the Rock n’ Roll Music Festival, as well as $12,000 in prize money for finishers, it’s an experience to be had.
Name: Hapalua Half Marathon
Description: Hapalua means ‘half’ in Hawaiian, and it is full of the ‘Aloha’ spirit. The course begins beside the beach in Waikiki, loops around Diamond Head, and finishes in Kapiolani Park with a festival, concerts, and fresh malasadas.
Name: Boise Half Marathon
Description: Previously known as Onward Shaw!, this Boston qualifier twists and turns through the lovely neighborhoods and greenbelts of Boise, Idaho. It’s a flat, fast course for any runner, no matter your level.
Name: Hoka Chicago Half Marathon
Description: Maybe it’s not as glamorous as the full Chicago Marathon, but the half is still a great way to see the Chicago skyline and run alongside Lake Michigan. The course is flat and stays clear of downtown, and the race itself is always well organized.
Name: CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon
Description: Run through historic Indianapolis and past some of the cities most exciting landmarks. The course is fast, flat, USATF certified, and one of the state’s most famous half marathons. Proceeds from the race are donated to public education.
Name: IMT Des Moines Half Marathon
City: Des Moines
Description: This race is a great way to see some of Des Moines’ sights, with views of downtown and its historical landmarks. The race is moderately difficult with a few medium-sized hills (no, Iowa isn’t always flat!). A great race to experience if you’re in the Midwest.
Name: Gobbler Grind Half Marathon
City: Kansas City
Description: The Gobbler Frind is a great fall race to get you ready for your Thanksgiving feast. The course is semi-flat and features a relatively easy route through local scenery, woods, and paved trails. The proceeds help fund the Kids Foundation.
Name: Humana Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon
Description: This race is a longstanding tradition is part of the run-up to the Kentucky Derby so expect Louisville to be in a festive mood. In years past, runners have been able to pass through the Churchill Downs racecourse, but 2021’s route will take you along the Indiana Riverfront.
Name: Louisiana Half Marathon
City: Baton Rouge
Description: Part of the Louisiana Festival weekend, this fast and flat course takes you through the historic neighborhoods of Baton Rouge, the University Lakes, and Louisiana State University Campus.
Name: Gorham Savings Bank Half Marathon
Description: This moderately hilly race was named ‘Road Race of the Year’ by New England Runners Magazine and features a fantastic out-and-back course with views of Casco Bay, the Portland skyline, and all that lovely fall foliage.
Name: Potomac River Run Half Marathon
Description: This flat and fast half boasts of being one of the easiest half and full marathons in the U.S. You’ll run alongside the historic tree-lined Potomac Richer.
Name: BAA Half Marathon
Description: This well-organized race features plenty of hills along its course through sections of highway, Franklin Park, Boston’s Willow Pond, and the Franklin Park Zoo, with views of the animal enclosures before wrapping up in White Stadium.
Name: Detroit Free Press Half Marathon
Description: While the full Marathon will see you running to Canada and back, the half is U.S. only. You’ll still be treated to some fantastic views as you come out of downtown Detroit and along the waterfront.
Name: Half Fast Half Marathon
City: Vadnais Heights
Description: Bundle up for this mid-winter race full of gentling rolling hills and snowy scenery around Vadnais Heights.
Name: Mississippi Blues Half Marathon
Description: If your a fan of the blues, your sure to love this race as you’ll be treated to live music as you run your race through the City of Jackson, including Jackson State University Campus and the historical community of Belhaven.
Name: Go! St. Louis Half Marathon
City: St. Louis
Description: Run along the beautiful, paved Mississipi Greenway and follow the river along this USATF certified course. It’s a fairly flat trail that will take you to the finish line at Kiener Plaza and a great photo opp in front of the Gateway Arch.
Name: Montana Governor’s Cup Half Marathon
Description: Montana’s oldest half-marathon race will take you on mostly downhill routes, with some rolling hills through scenic back-country roads. You’ll finish in downtown Helena and enjoy an awards ceremony and expo at the finish line.
Name: Omaha Half Marathon
Description: Omaha’s marathons have been running for nearly 50 years, and there is a distance for everyone. With aid stations located every few miles, this extremely flat route is excellent for getting a good PR.
Name: Labor of Love Half Marathon
City: Lovell Canyon
Description: You’ll enjoy amazing views of Lovell Canyon as you run this high-elevation course. The route will take you through the rolling terrains full of desert vegetation. The shade of the canyon will keep you cool as you work your way through.
Name: New Hampshire Half Marathon
Description: Race this well-organized race with a small-town feel and get treated to some fantastic post-race entertainment. You’ll experience one of New Englands’ most beautiful races as you move through the natural beauty of Newfound Lake during peak foliage season.
Name: Novo Nordisk New Jersey Half Marathon
Description: This USATF-certified point-to-point course will take you through Oceanport, Long Branch, Loch Arbour, Asbury Park, and end at the oceanfront Promenade. It’s a flat and fast course that’s perfect for getting a new P.R.
Name: Duke City Half Marathon
Description: You’ll be running with thousands of others on this beginner-friendly, out-and-back course. Enjoy your victory with a huge post-race festival and experience one of the top-ranked half-marathons in the world!
Name: United Airlines NYC Half Marathon
City: New York City
Description: You’ll see many New York City landmarks on this challenging route that takes you from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Starting at Prospect Park, you’ll work your way over the Manhatten Bridge before finishing in Central Park.
Name: Ellerbe Spring Half Marathon
Description: Yes, there will be chicken and dumplings after you run 13.1 miles of paved country road. The course features a few steep climbs and some gentling rolling hills through Ellerbe’s secluded scenery.
Name: Stanford Fargo Half Marathon
Description: This is one of the best small town half marathons in the country. Featuring some sweet race swag, a weekend-long celebration of running, and 50+ bands, this is among the most significant running events in the U.S. The Fast and flat course is made for all experience levels.
Name: Cleveland Half Marathon
Description: Running Times listed this half marathon as “one of the most runner-friendly races in the country.” You’ll enjoy the scenic course that takes you through the Rock n’ Roll capital and along Lake Erie.
Name: Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon
City: Oklahoma City
Description: This event can get pretty crowded, with around 25,000 participants from all over the world. Commemorating the Oklahoma City bombing victims, the proceeds from this race go to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. It’s a relatively easy course with no steep inclines.
Name: Newport Half Marathon
Description: Running through Yaquina Bay State Park is the main draw of this fast-and-flat race. You’ll see some of Oregon’s most breathtaking landmarks scenery as you follow the Yaquina Bay and River estuary.
Name: Philadelphia Half Marathon
Description: Taking place over a weekend of racing fun, participants will run past many of Philly’s finest neighborhoods and landmarks in the company of runners from all over the world. It is one of the top-10 marathon weekends in the country, and all of Philly comes out to cheer the runners.
Name: Jamestown Half Marathon
Description: The event takes place on Conanicut Island, looking over the beautiful Narragansett Bay. You’ll be running past some amazing Rhod Island scenes, and while there are a few significant hills, most of the course is reasonably flat.
Name: Kiawah Island Golf Resort Half Marathon
City: Kiawah Island
Description: Starting in the picturesque West Beach Village, this half marathon features some breathtaking scenery, including maritime forests, marshes, and some large estates.
Name: Sioux Falls Half Marathon
City: Sioux Falls
Description: The route is mainly flat with some rolling hills. It’s a well-organized half marathon on a paved road that takes you through Downtown Sioux Falls and along the bike trails of Sioux Falls’ historical districts.
Name: Knoxville Half Marathon
Description: This is another perfect downtown half that takes you through many of Knoxville’s famous neighborhoods. Live music and a health and fitness expo cap this family-friendly race weekend off.
Name: BCS Half Marathon
City: College Station
Description: This is the highest-rated half marathon in Texas. You’ll be running a flat and fast course that takes you through neighborhoods, golf courses, and Texas A;M campus to feel some of the Aggie spirit. Firework shows cap the day off.
Name: Salt Lake City Half Marathon
City: Salt Lake City
Description: There are many hills in Salt Lake City, although the course is overall a downhill course. Utah is about 5000 feet above sea level, so keep that in mind if you’re used to training at sea level. You’ll run through two parks and be treated to tonnes of race-day activities.
Name: Half Marathon Unplugged
Description: This out-and-back course will take you along the Burlington Bike Path heading towards Waterfront Parch, with a two-mile loop through Colchester midway. This no-frill, early season race is a great way to start your running season in New England.
Name: Richmond Half Marathon
Description: You’ll get the chance to see historic Richmond locations along a course that will take you along the James River. The Richmond Marathon has been running for 44 years, and you’ll enjoy a great riverfront post-race party right after.
Name: Iron Horse Half Marathon
City: Washington State Parks
Description: Running on the remnants of an old railroad track (hence ‘Iron Horse’), this USATF certified race will take you through some fantastic scenery along the Palouse and Snoqualmie Valley Trail. Aside from a few flat sections, the course is almost entirely downhill.
Name: Morgantown Half Marathon
Description: This challenging course will take you through the seven wards of Morgantown with all its rolling hills and gorgeous views. Festivals and concerts will cap off the day, and proceeds go towards helping Veterans find full-time job placements.
Name: Wisconsin Half Marathon
Description: This race begins at the Kenosha Civil War Museum, proceeds along the beautiful Lake Michigan coastline and through downtown Kenosha. The course is a flat out-and-back style with a handful of gradual hills.
Name: Wyoming Half Marathon
Description: The route takes you through Medicine Bow National Forest on dirt and gravel roads. You’ll feel like your running in the old west as you take on these challenging hills and high elevation.
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6 thoughts on “A State-by-State Guide Of Half Marathons Worthy Of Your Bucket List”
Great list. One cool thing about the NYC Half Marathon. You get to run through Times Square. This half marathon and New Years Eve are the only two times during the year that Times Square is closed to automobile traffic. 🙂
Thanks, swosei12blog! It’s definitely on my half marathon bucket list!
Awesome! Hope to see you in the NYC Half Marathon once we get out of this pandemic.
The Detroit Free Press has a half that also goes into Canada. There are two courses to choose from.
Thank you so much for this info on the Detroit Free Press. I have yet to run a race in Canada or into Canada. It is definitely on my bucket list!