The New Year is the perfect time to set new fitness goals, like running a 10k or half marathon. In fact, if you commit to a race that’s far away, you’ll be more motivated to stick to a training plan. To get you motivated, we’ve rounded up ten of the country’s finest races, from traditional to eccentric. We considered factors such as scenery, amount of downhill terrain, and of course—fun factor. So what are you waiting for? Lace up, and hit the road!
Krispy Kreme Challenge
When: February 6, 2016
Where: Raleigh, NC
Started in 2004 as a dare between NC State University Park Scholars, this unconventional race has grown into an annual charity event that tops many runners’ bucket lists. Participants run two and a half miles from the NC State campus to downtown Raleigh’s Krispy Kreme store where they must consume one dozen original glazed doughnuts and run back to campus in order to be eligible for an award. The return journey is the true challenge. Not into eating that many doughnuts? You can register as a Casual Runner, rather than a Challenger, and eat as few as you prefer.
Canyonlands Half Marathon
When: March 12, 2016
Where: Moab, UT
Set against the magnificent Colorado Rockies in a deep ravine with canyon walls towering above, it’s hard to get bored in this race. The rolling 13.1 mile course snakes along the Colorado River, finishing in downtown Moab. In years past, runners have enjoyed locally brewed beer at the finish—the perfect way to celebrate.
Cooper River Bridge Run
When: April 2, 2016
Where: Charleston, SC
The point-to-point, 6.2 mile course starts in Mt. Pleasant and culminates in historic downtown Charleston. A portion of the 10k race spans along the two and a half mile-long Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, giving incredible views of the river. (Many runners even claim to feel the bridge gently bouncing beneath them!)
Now in its 37th year, this 10-mile race down Philly’s iconic Broad Street is perfect for beginners or for those looking to set a new personal record. The Broad Street Run, with an overall net downhill, is considered one of the fastest courses in the country by Runner’s World. The straight-as-an-arrow course cuts through downtown, finishing in front of the Delaware River.
Zappos.com Bay to Breakers
When: May 15, 2016
Where: San Francisco
Undoubtedly San Francisco’s quirkiest road race, this longtime tradition, now in its 104th year, encourages runners to sport wacky costumes. Oddities often include a group known as “the salmon” that completes the course backwards in an attempt to swim upstream. The 12k point-to-point race starts just off of the Bay near the Embarcadero and finishes at the Great Highway where breaking Pacific waves crash onto the beach.
For those of us who value extraordinary food experiences while striving to maintain a healthy living balance, the Fit Foodie Race is a celebration of everything we believe. Cooking Light and sister brand Health host four race weekends across the country every year. The weekend is filled with sweating (running and yoga), dining (parties and cooking demonstrations), and engaging with your fellow fit foodies. This year, the race will stop in Fairfax, VA (May 20-22), Austin, TX (June 24-26), Tampa, FL (September 16-18), and San Diego, CA (October 21-23). When delicious food, working out, and good friends are all combined, it is a beautiful culmination of all that life has to offer.
With 60,000 participants (and 200,000 spectators!), the AJC Peachtree is the largest 10k road race in the world. Now in its 48th year, the race is a longtime Fourth of July tradition for those in the Atlanta area and beyond. The 6.2 mile point-to-point course starts at the Lenox Square shopping center, takes runners over a few tough hills along Peachtree Road, and finishes at scenic Piedmont Park.
New Balance 5th Avenue Mile
Where: New York City
Registration: Open soon
This lightning-fast one-mile sprint down New York’s famed 5th Avenue runs along Central Park, starting at East 80th Street and finishing at East 60th Street. The final heat of the day features world-class talent—so make sure to hang out around the finish line to snag an autograph (or even a selfie!) from your favorite professional athlete.
When: October 2, 2016
Where: Corning, NY
Named for New York State’s bountiful wineries in its Finger Lakes region, the Wineglass Marathon boasts one of the speediest courses in the country. Starting in Bath and ending in downtown Corning, the flat course is mostly downhill and winds along picturesque country roads. For Boston Marathon hopefuls, this is the perfect race.
Known as the “Marathon of the Monuments,” the MCM is a perfect way to tour the nation’s capital in just a few hours. The 26.2-mile, rolling hill course begins outside Arlington Cemetery, crosses the Potomac River into Georgetown, and promenades down the National Mall, passing the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and more.
FloTrack Beer Mile World Championships
Registration: Open Soon
Love running and beer? How about both at the same time? In the ultimate test of chugging and leg speed, participants must drink one 12-ounce beer as quickly as possible, run one lap around a 400-meter course, and repeat three times. The annual event pits the world’s fastest beer milers against each other—in years past, elite competitors have included Olympians and even a Cooking Light staffer!
*Please check back for updated information when official dates are announced.